Despite the onslaught of bashing ensuing by the movie critics, “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” nabbed the top-spot at the box office over the weekend, pulling in $19 million domestically, and another $35 million in the foreign market to more than make up its production budget of $50 million, and, in the meantime, top rival’s films “Movie 43” and “Parker.”
The newest rendition of the age-old tale of Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) follows the same plotline of its predecessor, when Hansel and Gretel are abandoned in the woods by their father, only to encounter their first of many witches to come. Captured and nearly killed, Hansel and Gretel fight back, in turn killing the witch and simultaneously initiating what is to become a career of witch hunting.
After many years, the duo, in their prime, are hired by Mayor Englemann (Rainer Bock) to find several children who have been abducted by witches in the area.
In their quest, Hansel and Gretel come across the extremely powerful grand witch Muriel, who is leading the charge to perform the ritual known as the Blood Moon, in which six boys and girls are to be sacrificed and in turn immunizing witches from death by fire.
Adding to their troubles, Hansel and Gretel are continually harassed by Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare), who hopes to destroy the witches himself and in turn earn back the respect of the mayor.
Together, Hansel and Gretel must fend off the sheriff and his men while also preventing the completion of the Blood Moon, which would make their killing of witches nearly impossible. In order to succeed, they must use their wits – and their arsenal of weaponry – to destroy the hoard of witches who have gathered for the harvest.
In this very violent, gory twist of the dark-themed fairy tale, Renner and Arterton put together solid acting performances, their on-screen relationship as brother and sister made believable by seamless and authentic-feeling dialogue.
But, what truly makes this film worth watching, and certainly undeserving of the negative attention is receiving, is the gritty, fast-paced action. Combined with outstanding fight choreography and some impressive weaponry, there is enough room to forgive what critics are calling a thin story and lack of funny dialogue – the latter of which comes as a bit of a surprise considering Will Ferrell served as one of the film’s producers.
Sure, if you’re planning on going to see a film for its touching moments, this is probably not the one, nor will the language be gentle on the ears of young ones.
But nobody goes to a pizza place to order a cheeseburger. Fans going to this film will likely get exactly what they are expecting – a no holds barred, no nonsense, violent, bloody good time. Give this one a try, but don’t expect some huge sense of enlightenment. You won’t get it.