FILM REVIEW: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
What kind of film is Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters? The kind featuring Hawkeye with a double-barrelled shotgun and a troll that acts like the Hulk. Mash-up doesn't even begin to cover this Middle Ages muddle, a movie filled with quaint gingerbread houses, horned witches and medieval machine guns. (This is what happens when the fixation with all things steampunk gets out of control).Hansel and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) grew up to be bounty hunters. (Paramount Pictures)
While the action is hectic to point of producing a headache (and in 3D natch), Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton rescue this film from total mediocrity with their game performances. If you're looking for period-appropriate diction, brother you've come to the wrong film. But, if you'd like to see what Jeremy Renner looks like when he's actually allowed to enjoy himself, get yourself a big bucket of popcorn and take a seat.
Freed of the bonds of training to be the next Captain Intensity to replace Tom Cruise, Renner is actually at ease here, playing Hansel with a lazy sort of charm. It's a refreshing change from the string of stern and serious parts he's been dealt recently. As his witch-hunting partner Gretel, Gemma Arterton proves a decent foil to Renner's shenanigans.
The plot isn't anything that will impress fairy tale fans. Hansel and Gretel lost their parents and grew up to be bounty hunters who save towns from anything that flies on a broom. The witches are a crude, skin-cracked lot, who look Hellraiser rejects.
Jeremy Renner seems to be enjoying himself as he cuts through witches. (Paramount Pictures)While there's no lack of disturbing visuals (in fact the candy house looks fantastic), director Tommy Wirkola favours firepower over fear. (The Norwegian made his name with Dead Snow, a movie featuring Zombified Nazis.) Matrix-style bullet-time slow mo, fireballs, and a terabyte of CGI blood are all that Wirkola has to offer. While Renner and Areterton keep the action fast and loose, there's not enough here to merit a sequel of the Grimm duo.
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