Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
One thing I love about going to see a moive with expectations is your odds of enjoyment can be hightened. Every piece of advertising for Hansel & Gretel that I saw made it look like a piece of dog filth. The reason why it came out in January was because that's the cemetary where studios bury their bloated corpses that they know are crap but they have to release them anyway. Why? Because it's cold and snowy in most of the country and people usually stay home. If you're anything like me, you're smart not to do that because this one is a fun ride.
We all know the classic fairytale about Hansel & Gretel; they were two children that were lost in the woods and found a house made of candy but when they went inside they were trapped by a witch who fattened them up for eating until they fought back and burned her alive. Well, our titular characters in this are those two kids all grown up and boy, do they hate witches. They travel the countryside working as badass witch bounty hunters and are esstentially 19th century paranormal superheros.
Not sure how they did it but they convinced Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) to star in this along with the stunning Gemma Arterton (Quantom of Solace, Prince of Persia). Don't expect any silly accents or time appropriate vocabulary because the entire film is done very tongue-in-cheek. That might be because the film is produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay...yeah, THOSE guys responsible for some of the funniest comedies out there. Is Hansel & Gretel a comedy? Not really but the whole movie screams for you to not take it seriously and just have fun.
If you're really into movies you might recognize the name of Norweigan director Tommy Wirkola. Hansel & Gretel was his first American film but prior to this he caught movie nerds' attention with a movie called Dead Snow, which was a film about college students who are terrorized by resurrected zombie nazis and they have to fight them off. It's the same situation as this in that you watch it with rock bottom expectations and you actually end up loving it. The two films are very similar in style, tone and expierence. Hansel & Gretel is obviously better though because of the budget they had.
I was lucky enough to have seen this at the Esquire IMAX theater in downtown Sacramento and I highly recommend duplicating that for yourself. Most of the film was shot in IMAX and it's also in 3D, with gags and action sequences that you'd expect to see at an amusement park. The make-up and CGI FX are all excellent and the grotesque looks chosen for the witches remind me of The Evil Dead and come to to think of it, so does the whole thing. It's a horror/action movie that's got ridiculous and soggy moments but overall shines as the kind of movie you want to see on the biggest, loudest screen possible and have a good time with friends. Just make sure you leave a trail of breadcrumbs so you can find your way home.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B