[Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters]
Synopsis:Follows the fairy-tale siblings 15 years after their traumatic gingerbread house incident, which provoked them to become a formidable team of bounty hunters, who track and kill witches all over the world.

Cast:Gemma Arterton, Jeremy Renner, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Derek Mears, Thomas Mann, Zoe Bell.

My Thoughts:Pretty damn good!

Review:"Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters" is a film from Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow), where the fairy-tale siblings we've all come to know and love. Have gone from becoming the hunted, to becoming the hunters. The films base plot is pretty cool and interesting. I mean think about all the victims in fairy-tales and if they one day decided to get revenge on their tormentors. What if Jack decided to get revenge on the giant from the Beanstalk? What if the three little pigs decided to burn down the Wolf's house in retaliation for him blowing down theirs? What if...ah, you get the point!

Revenge is indeed an American ideal, always has been always will be. And is as sweet as it can be sometimes bitter. With that being said, this movie delves into the throngs of the idea and nature of revenge. As Hansel (Renner), and Gretel (Arterton), are all grown up now. 15 years after an evil, old, hag witch caged them and then, tried to cook and eat them. They ended up "cooking" her instead. But that didn't stop them from making it their mission to kill witches. Now adults, they track and kill witches all across Europe. Their next target, is a witch who they have unfinished business with. Named Muriel (Janssen). She's got big plans for Gretel, who is the key to her and her fellow witches being able to achieve world domination and ruination.

And Hansel and Gretel must stop her before it's too late! A film of this nature is perfect for late January. It's about the only time a flick like this can have the movie-going audience to itself. Which is exactly what it needs! It opened in 1st place this weekend, and for a reason. It's late January! All the big films or Oscar-nod films have had their 3 or 4 week spotlight run. And a picture like this needs a stale and empty competition cache to crack that all-important $20 million barrier at the multiplex. I mean...it's called..."Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters".

You think a film like this stands a chance in the Spring time up against Jennifer Aniston's next romantic comedy? Or Ben Stiller's next comedy? Or in the Summer against those billion dollar or so special effects extravaganza flicks? Nah-uh. Not a chance. And it'd surely get creamed in October against the established "Paranormal Activity" franchises, and forget about November/December when all those kids movies flood the cinemas! See, this film needed a January 25th release slot. Which is probably why I enjoyed it so much! As the year gets older, it sort of grates on you. And by Summer, a film like this just looks annoying and absurd.

But in late January, when you really need a laugh and an escape. Because it's cold enough outside to make the devil himself blush..."Hansel and Gretel" is the perfect 3D ride! And I'm not just saying this because the film had Gemma Arterton and Famke Janssen in it, two extremely gorgeous actresses. But this was actually a pretty good flick when you consider the source material. The one thing it does well is keep the energy going. There's plenty of action in this film, ranging from gun play, fireball-flinging, hand-to-hand combat, you name it! I also liked that this movie didn't take itself one iota seriously. Everyone "got" the joke. And the movie plays out as fun, silly entertainment. With good fight choreography for actors who aren't really "heavy", resume wise in the "fight movie" genre.
But you can't help but get a "Hellboy" vibe from this movie. In fact, I felt "Hansel and Gretel" was trying to be the "new" Hellboy for this generation. Everything about the movie feels "Hellboy'ish". From the costuming, to the characters, and creatures involved. The movies plot isn't hampered down with unnecessary or overdone plot points either. Basically, they keep things simple. Hansel and Gretel are in town to take down a group of witches in order to get to Muriel who they have unfinished "biz" with, as well as the reverse. Muriel is played deliciously, and wickedly well by Janssen, who makes sure to keep the character reserved at key moments. Giving her almost a nonchalantly-violent manner and attitude. The character of Muriel only gets really "nasty", ironically enough when she "witches" out.

Which is a running theme in this movie. Muriel is the only witch who apparently can take human form when she chooses too, and "witch out" during battle. As opposed to the other witches who apparently are stuck on "ugly" permanently. Arterton is excellent as Gretel. She's a tough girl but still manages to keep the femininity quality very high. Even she she's bad-mouthing a witch, or dropping one with a blow to the face. Renner as Hansel does his best "King Arthur" impression, and manages to come off as a noble hero, who makes a few mistakes at times to prove that he isn't "absolutely perfect" at his job. There's also some well-known actors in this film who appear in costume that you probably won't recognize right away, if at all. Derek Mears (Friday The 13th 2009), appears as Edward The Troll.

Who works for Muriel, but later on ends up "crushing" on Gretel, and ends up eventually, playing a key role in the final outcome of things. And Zoe Bell (Death Proof), makes an appearance as a grotesque looking witch late in the picture. But overall, the film keeps most of its focus on three main players, Hansel, Gretel, and Muriel. With a few sidekicks to both sides thrown in for good measure. And Peter Stormare as the local "sheriff" who isn't too keen on Hansel and Gretel showing up to do his job for him. As he displays at the start of the movie when the sister and brother duo rescue an innocent woman who Stormare's character, Sheriff Berringer, was about to "burn at the stake". The 3D doesn't doo much to enhance the film in any particular spots? But there are moments where it gives a few layers of visual coolness to the events taking place on screen.

And the picture really brings things to an excellent conclusion with a strong, solid, and action-packed finale. Where Muriel has her final encounter with Hansel and Gretel, and a fight to the death ensues! Yeah, it sounds silly, looks silly, and as an idea...is pretty "wtf?"...but "Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters" is fun, and in my opinion...money well spent. It's been awhile since I've seen a movie at the multiplex that's just "fun", and entertaining, without any pretentiousness or stupid "haha I'm so clever" twists. But "Hansel and Gretel" is it! Bring on "Hansel and Gretel Ghost Hunters", or "Hansel and Gretel Vampire Hunters", or...what have you.

THE GOOD:Arterton and Renner give good performances as the title characters, Hansel and Gretel. Janssen is a good villainess as Muriel. Fight scenes were good visually, and entertaining. The film had a strong conclusion, and Edward The Troll kind of grows on you over time.

THE BAD:There's the death of a major character at the end of the movie which I thought called for some super-special visual effects. Instead, it was just a normal horror movie death. Minus the light show.

OVERALL:Three and a half stars out of four.

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