Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – It’s Not Shit
Well Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters doesn’t care what you want. You get what you goddamn get.
Luckily, that usually involves burst skulls.
TL;DR Swimming in gore and frivolity, this is a surprise treat that aims for nothing more than simple entertainment. And if “simple” isn’t a descriptor that fits me perfectly, then I don’t know what is. 3 out of 5 stars.
I think “don’t be pretentious” should be what all movies aspire to.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters features a mature brother/sister duo who have extended their resume since escaping ol’ gingerbread bitch as kiddies. The plot sees them bring their witch hunting services to some town where kids have been going missing. Famke Janssen is a big, bad witch who plans to something something give herself and all her witchy friends immunity to fire, which would be very handy. Hansel and Gretel must stop her. They’re also motivated by the revealed back story involving Famke having orchestrated their parents’, one of whom (mummy) was a white witch, deaths. Blood and guts ensue. Subplots include Hansel getting his dick wet in some local white witch; Gretel befriending a troll (because only Hansel gets to have a sexy subplot partner); an obstructive sheriff; and an obsessed fanboy who joins the team.
I honestly went into this expecting the worst. I mean, just look at that title. And I had seen Gemma Arterton using an American accent in the trailer, which should be a crime.
But what I got was a crapload of great beat ’em up fight scenes, endless headsplosions, holy-powered gatling guns, and a thankful abundance of practical effects.
Why I DON’T hate this movie:
The gore is easily what brings this movie alive. Here are some of my favourites:
A guy gets ripped limb from limb by magical trees.
Kiddie Gretel shanks the shit out of gingerbread witch.
The red-headed witch uses control magic to make a teenage boy shotgun his mother through a wall.
Famke makes a guy blow his head off (more “away” than “off,” really) with a shotgun.
When the troll is rescuing Gretel from the sheriff and his goons, he punches one goon’s head into goo, then stomps the sheriff’s head like a bag of tomato soup.
The massacre at the witch gathering is just a splatterfest.
Some of the fleeing witches are razor wired on their broomsticks.
Famke ends up decapitated by a shovel (not quite as juicy as this, but it’s not far off).
And a dude bloats and fucking explodes inside a pub.
Bonus points for Hansel pre-empting it by subtly moving Fanboy in front of him to catch the splash.
Gretel also gets best line after this. She gives us her opinion on that particular spell: “I fucking hate that one.” I can see why.
The fight scenes are fun and rough.
The broomstick flying appears to be done mostly with practical effects. God, it looks good.
Famke Janssen doesn’t get to queen around quite as much as she did in Hemlock Grove, but she’s still a camp, commanding presence. She’s yet to live up to her best villain performance, though. Maybe one day.
Both Hansel and Gretel are competent and valuable to the action scenes. It’s nice to see the female lead beating up bitches (and getting beat up) just the same as her male counterpart.
Hansel has magical diabetes from the gingerbread witch’s torture. Fucking lol.
Fanboy is Nerdy Guy from Fun Size. Dude’s having a very not-shitty run lately.
Famke and her 2 minions reminded me of Stardust. And I do like me some Stardust.
I found myself unable to tell what parts of the troll were CGI and what parts weren’t. It’s pretty great.
Jeremy Renner gets a shirtless, skinny dipping scene. That’s all I ask.
Famke’s plan against Hansel and Gretel’s parents is pretty devious. She needed the mum’s heart to do her mega spell, but she was too powerful. So she outed the mum as a witch solely to get her away from Gretel so she could take her heart instead. That’s cold. I approve.
She puts up a pretty hard fight against our heroes at the end, too, despite being injured and foiled.
Oh, and while she’s accosted by the sheriff, Gretel bites off part of his nose in defiance. Gorgeous.
Reasons to hate:
It’s still vapid and empty, so if that’s a major concern for you, then there’s that. I am vapid and empty myself, so IDGAF.
No, the only big issue I had with it was the accents. Gemma Arterton should never not be allowed to use her delicious British accent. It made Prince of Persia so endearing (that and Jake Gyllenhaal’s abs). Worse, the Eurocentric/fantasy setting didn’t call for American accents at all. So Gemma ends up a British actress with a superb British accent, in a setting that would traditionally use British accents, trying to sound convincing as an American. Maybe Jeremy couldn’t muster a British accent and Gemma had to compensate so they would be believable as siblings?
It’s kind of accent stew all over the place. Many of the townsfolk have European, non-British accents (I can’t pick them, but you know what I mean). Famke pulls a bit of an Elle McPherson by rolling between multiple accents, none of which are as amazing as her toffee-nosed glory in Hemlock Grove.
Famke spends too much time in ugly witch form. Devo.
The echinda-headed witch’s death is a bizarre exception to the gore in the rest of the movie. Hansel head shots her at point blank range, but the movie gives us a disappointingly out of place Gory Discretion Shot. What, did you have a limit on how many headsplosions you could use? What the actual fuck? At least Piranha 3DD did it for budgetary reasons.
The wand fight between Famke and Hansel’s love interest wasn’t as good as the one in Oz the Great and Powerful.
Oh, and Hansel and Gretel do this sassy gun-resting-over-the-shoulder thing several times. Most of the time it just looks way too try-hard. In the ending scene, though, Hansel happens to be doing it so his gun barrel points directly at Fanboy’s head. Fucking stupid.
Gore gore gore. How do you like it? A lot. It’s not shit. 3 out of 5 stars.