Feb 27 2013 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Oh dear. It’s hard to imagine the Brothers Grimm being very pleased by the treatment their classic fairy tale gets here.
In writer and director Tommy Wirkola’s spin on the traditional story, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are now bounty hunters tracking and killing various creatures.
The movie is in a similar vein to 2004’s Van Helsing and last year’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but even they had Hugh Jackman in a cool hat, Kate Beckinsale in a corset and a creative take on what America’s sixteenth President got up to in his spare time.
Norwegian Wirkola directed the bizarre but entertaining Nazi zombie flick Dead Snow but his English language debut gets lost in translation.
An opening scene focuses on the old fable before the credits show drawings of Hansel and Gretel’s adventures, but these and future discussions about unseen monster battles sound much more interesting than the tale we’re told.
Wirkola can’t seem to settle on what type of film he wanted to make. On one hand, Hansel and Gretel casually curse here and there and blood spurts at the screen as body parts are severed and entrails drop to the floor.
But this mixes in with a cutesy CGI troll, Hansel and Gretel ‘super fan’ Ben (Thomas Mann) and half-hearted attempts at romance as he struggles to fill even the slight 80-minute running time.
Hansel is lumbered with love interest Mina (Pihla Viitala) in an underdeveloped shoehorned attempt to add the sexual sparks the brother/sister relationship between the leads was unable to offer.
Apart from the odd quip from Hansel and hi-jinks involving a typically manic Peter Stormare (Sheriff Berringer), it’s a humourless affair.
Wirkola’s action sequences don’t cut the mustard either, with a second battle between our lead duo and a witch virtually identical to the first and people lazily getting crushed repeatedly by a whole host of objects.
Both Arterton and Renner deserve better. Quality performances in The Disappearance of Alice Creed and Tamara Drewe prove Arterton shouldn’t be messing about in duds like this.
After the mediocre The Bourne Legacy, Renner needs to watch himself too or the goodwill created from ace turns in Avengers Assemble, The Town and The Hurt Locker could soon disappear faster than Usain Bolt in a 100-metre race.
Both are fine but that’s it, and Arterton’s constantly in trouble Gretel is no a**-kicking heroine.
Fanke Janssen’s villainess spends most of the film looking like a grown-up Linda Blair in The Exorcist, without the chilling menace.
Don’t be lured into the witch’s den by the eye candy of Arterton and Renner as you’ll be left wishing all involved in this production had been shoved into an oven.