Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
There are some reasons why you would leap to it, after all Jeremy Renner and Peter Stromare star but it's really the female leads of Gemma Arterton and Famke Janssen that attract and give the most in this film, especially the wonderful Janssen. Honestly I don't mean to sound creepy but she is superb.
One of the big surprises was how adult the film is from the swearing to the blood, it may be based on a fairy tale but it's definitely not one for the younger kids.
I wasn't holding out any hope for the film as I'd made my judgement while watching the trailers, it looked like Van Helsing in terms of fighting monsters and the period look filled with modern weapons which the props and effects departments had tried their best to make look mediaeval. There was also the tone of the trailer which felt like a children's film and finally the fact that one of the main points of the advertising was that it was a 3D release. None of these were particularly good signs.
So it was a surprise when the titles appeared and looked so good, not just good as a normal title sequence but in terms of the quality and integration of the 3D as well. I was wondering if I could have misjudged the film and the technology considering how well those titles went. I hadn't.
The film starts off with the traditional story but quickly shows us that it's going to be a little darker and a little more adult, something that we see more of as the film goes on. Then we hit the title sequence which, to be fair, was very good in 3D and drew the audience into the film very early on. It not only tells the story from the introduction to where the film begins but it also shows off the promise of some strong effects.
The disappointing thing is that this is just about where the value of the 3D ends. There are some explosion scenes where debris flies directly at you and you'll find yourself flinching, but apart from that you more or less forget its even there and that it's in 3D. In fact it's totally superfluous to the film and apart from the end titles and under a minute's worth of flying debris, it's just a waste of everyone's time. Well, that's not true, it's not a waste of the accountant's times as the cost of the 3D ticket brings in a little more money.
Now the good thing is I'm not going to sit here and totally destroy the film like others have, it isn't rubbish. I have to admit that it was light hearted fun and entertaining even if it will wash right over you it's still fun. There are some good effects to be had with the witches demonstrating their power and the age level of the film does increase as it goes on - it doesn't enter full adult and gore territory, but the language does age and the menace and blood level with it, warming to the adult audience more and more.
While Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton were pretty much running on autopilot here and they didn't really have much to deliver, Famke Janssen and Peter Stormare seemed to be having a rather good time of it all leaping into their characters and going for it. It does help that both have characters with something more to them than everyone else - Stormare as the Sheriff who believes his job is being taken from him and is equally bungling as he is nasty and Janssen as the extremely evil witch who wants to destroy Hansel and Gretel and make all the evil witches that much more powerful. Both revel in their characters and their enjoyment comes through to the audience.
Still, even with these two providing some more enjoyment the majority of the film is pretty standard fare going exactly where you expect delivering cheesy, uninspiring entertainment which failed to engage with the flat 3D getting in the way of and detracting from every single action sequence.
There were a couple of story twists that on paper you could have thought would have brought a little life to the story but by the point they arrived I was pretty disengaged and it was just washing over me, plus they really don't have a huge bearing on the rest of the story. It felt that these moments came and went with the expected beats without having a great impact on the characters, the story, or the audience.
It is a shame as this is written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, the man who co-wrote and directed Dead Snow, which you may know is the film about a group of teenagers finding Nazi zombies on a snow filled vacation. After that you have to wonder how he came to this film.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D - that and the trailer tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the film and it will all live up to your expectations. It's a standard fare, light entertainment film that isn't designed to tax you so if you're looking for some action in the back row this is where to go.
Famke Janssen and Peter Stormare are the best parts of the film but that's really not saying much, if only they'd dropped the Van Helsing and maybe injected some more drama and a bit more character depth into the two leads we might have had something more, oh and dumped the post-production 3D as well.
Buy the Extended Cut, Region Free Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk, the Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D set from Amazon.co.uk, the DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D US Import from Amazon.co.uk or the the DVD, Blu-ray and UltraViolet Unrated Edition from Amazon.com
Rent or watch online at LOVEFiLM
UK IMDB Film Details