Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters


by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Fairy tales, it seems that there  are infinite numbers of them from different countries and different  cultures around the world. It also seems inevitable that Hollywood will,  at some point, turn a fairy tale into a motion picture to make a few  dollars off of it. From Hercules and Snow White and the Huntsman to Red Riding Hood and The Little Mermaid, these stories are brought to  life by live-action or animated avenues for audiences to experience  a new telling of the age old story. And so is the case with the Grimm  brother’s story, Hansel and Gretel. Did you ever wonder what happened  after the siblings pushed the witch into the fire and left? Well, worry  no more!

So this  is the part where I give you a synopsis. However, the film is kind of  all over the place and hard to describe on general terms without giving  much away…. but I’ll give it a shot. Young Hansel and Gretel are taken  out to the woods and left there by their father for no apparent reason.  He leaves and the children wander through the woods, eventually coming  upon a gingerbread home. Starving, they begin eating the home. The witch  who lives there captures them. She intends to bake them to eat, but  Hansel and Gretel aren’t going down without a fight. They eventually  push the witch into the oven, ending her life. But we all know the original  story…

Years later,  Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are renowned for  their witch-hunting skills. They travel around, killing witches and  saving children with a wide array of weapons, some not quite fit for  medieval times. They come across one village where eleven children have  been taken and decide it’s time to help these little ones out. However,  something bigger is going on. A red moon, one that happens once in a  very long time, is approaching; and is sacred to witches. On this night,  it’s possible for a witch to create a potion that will make them immune  to fire, thus they could never be burned to death. But they need certain  ingredients: Twelve children and the heart of a white witch (yes, there  are good witches). There’s also a look into the past of Hansel and Gretel’s  parents and why they put them in the forest, which is something I always  wanted to know personally. To say more about the plot would be to give  things away; and there has to be some surprise for you, right? Okay,  moving on!

I really  question why Jeremy Renner took this role on. After coming off of “successful”  films like Mission  Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Bourne Legacy and The Avengers, why would  he choose this? Maybe he needed a break from better films? Or maybe  it was his lifelong goal to play a version of Hansel since he wasn’t  cast as the role in his first grade play? Who knows? Though Renner performs  well enough, give the script he had to work with, it’s still odd he  chose such a project. Gemma Arterton, on the other hand, is built for  these types of roles after turns in Prince of  Persia and Clash of  the Titans. She, too,  is more than up to the task of playing Gretel but it isn’t a stretch  for her. She actually seems like she kicks more butt than Jeremy Renner,  and he’s a Bourne operative and an Avenger!  Go figure. Maybe these were just easy paychecks for the actors?

Hansel and  Gretel: Witch Hunters is, by  all account, a B-movie action flick. It is high on the action, as well  as the gore. I mean, this is about hunting and killing witches with  arrows, machine guns, blades, and grenades. Would you expect less? So,  should you pay attention to story or plot details, the film is going  to be a much worse experience for you. I’m guilty of this. There are  some nice special effects in the film, and there is an actual “touching”  aspect where Gretel befriends a troll. Yes, I said a troll. There are  also things you question like, why does Hansel all of a sudden need  to inject himself with some medicine randomly throughout the film after  obtaining the “sugar sickness” from eating the gingerbread house?  For me, it’s like he obtained Type 1 diabetes and is giving himself  insulin injections, but I digress. Also, for Hansel and Gretel to be  such gifted witch hunters, they sure get their butts kicked quite a  lot! This is a film you have to take for what it is: an action film  with little to no character growth and little in terms of story.

Are there  better films out there for you so spend your money on? Yes. Is Hansel and  Gretel: Witch Hunters worth spending  $12 to go see? No. Do I recommend you going out to see it? Not so much.  If you’ve seen everything else out there worth viewing right now and  you want to just rest your brain, and you are going to the matinee showing,  then Hansel and  Gretel: Witch Hunters may be  for you. Just don’t expect a lot of magic from this fairy tale.

Rating: 1.5  out of 5 stars


  1. CailinJanuary 28th, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I thought it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Sure, it was predictable and even silly at times, but the effects (especially in 3D IMAX) were fantastic and sometimes you just need to turn your brain off for a while and enjoy some mindless entertainment. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to look at Jeremy and Gemma!

  2. Sin City NerdJanuary 28th, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I think you covered all the bases with this one. I had a free ticket to see this movie. I’d like my free ticket back. It would have been better to have recycled it. On a more positive note, the popcorn was really good!

  3. JonJanuary 28th, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I’m pretty sure you missed the point on this one entirely. This movie was an inventive take on an old childhood fairy tale. It had excellent costume/prop/set design, and was well executed. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and felt it was well worth seeing. The entire cast and crew did fine jobs, and I didn’t feel like it wasn’t worth my time or theirs at all. Frankly, not all of us enjoy movies like Lincoln or Les Miz, to say nothing of films like Zero Dark Thirty. I’d think a website like this would strive to be more inclusive of properties its fans might enjoy. There are going to be enough reviewers tearing this movie down simply because it is a genre piece.

  4. MarshmahlowzJanuary 28th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    The movie isn’t all that bad. I think it’s kinda refreshing. The old boring Hansel and Gretel story was revived. It is so nice that producers are thinking of other ways to make a children’s story into something interesting for adults or young adults. But deciding on whether it’s worth your time? It depends on your preference. I think most of us in this site really are fantasy-fiction or sci-fi fans, so I guess, most probably, we’ll enjoy the action, the twist of the story, and most especially its effects.

  5. annie burdeosJanuary 31st, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    This review had me laughing more than I did in watching this highly derivative film. Which even at 88 minutes seemed long! When Aaron Cross oops I mean Hansel needed to take his insulin shots, I wanted to shout “Get that man his chems”!! As a friend remarked to me it was Dr. Jean Grey vs Hawkeye!

    An FYI: Renner filmed this in March of 2011 (before Avengers and Bourne Legacy) where it sat on the shelf for a year as its releasing studio was undecided as to when it would most likely be able to recoup production/marketing costs. It was determined January 2013 would be its actual date. However January is the dumping ground for films that are not considered to be very good. Every once in awhile that is debunked. The Grey, Unknown and especially Taken(Gee what is it about Liam Neeson?) performed above expectations in January. When Taken was released, Eastwood’s Gran Torino went wide and two fellows over 50 excelled; each film outgrossing Hansel/Gretel worldwide.

    While 19.69 million is a decent opening, the film seems on pace for 68-70ish million domestic with possibly doubling that overseas.

    So the question remains, can Renner open a film on his own and drive it to profitability? As a literary character said “Wait and See.”

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