6.8 out of 10
"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" is best described as an enjoyable night out, but it is not the kind of film you will run out and tell your friends to go see. The movie has a nice blend of action, comedy and even some gore and decent special effects. The filmmakers do well with the concept and mix serious action with some cheesy fun. It is not a total parody of itself, but it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is exactly the right way to go with this type of film. But, these films are rarely memorable and are usually more of a fun gimmick. "‘Hansel & Gretel’" is no different.
"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" is the type of film you will never feel the need to watch again, but you will not feel like you wasted your time either.
Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.
"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" opens in Baltimore on Jan. 25, 2012.
It is always nice to see when filmmakers figure out the perfect way to deliver a particular script. This time director Tommy Wirkola picks the right blend of action, comedy and gore while splitting right down the middle of serious and campy. I think if you went all serious or all campy this material would fall very flat. But, by switching back and forth, the audience gets some nice action film elements and some funny parody pieces to laugh at and realize the movie should definitely not be taken seriously.
It was also a good decision to add some modern dialogue and colloquialisms to the much older setting. Many of the breaks from the seriousness revolve around the dialogue.
Surprisingly enough, the acting is actually very good all around. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are both excellent as the title characters. The supporting cast including Famke Janssen and Pihla Viitala are also very good. Pihla is from Finland and I would have no problem helping her Finnish.
The special effects and action sequences are also well done. I saw this in 3D and I do think it added some good depth and authenticity to some of the action, but it is tough to recommend the cost on a film like this. If you like 3D action films then go ahead and splurge on this one.
Once again, the biggest knock against this middle-of-the-road film is the fact that it is utterly forgettable. "‘Hansel & Gretel’" is the kind of film you will enjoy during the 90 minutes the film is playing, but after that you will go on with your life and probably never even think about the movie again.
There are a few times where the film drags a bit. In a 90-minute sci-fi/action film this cannot happen. There has to be something happening at every moment whether it be some action, a story element, or fun dialogue. To have slow, unnecessary character development or an emotional timeout is uncalled for. This ain’t no Oscar-worthy drama folks. We don’t need super deep characters or scenes to pull at our heartstrings. Just kill another witch already!
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for something to do on a night out "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" will be acceptable entertainment. If you are looking for something deep, meaningful or ground-breaking within its genre, look somewhere else. Enjoy the 90-minute ride full of action, comedy and gore. Appreciate the nice mix of serious action and self-mocking parody. Then, simply get on with your life and leave this one in the rear view mirror. "‘Hansel & Gretel'" is a tasty treat, but you couldn’t build a whole house out of it.