A very sweet fairy­tale gone sour

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

A YOUNG man tells the brother-and­sis­ter pro­tag­o­nists of the dis­mal Hansel and Gre­tel: Witch Hunters: ‘‘I’m really quite a fan of your work.’’ It’s a sen­ti­ment un­likely to be shared by au­di­ence mem­bers. The film, which opened in Aus­tralia to­day, ap­peared on screens in the US last month – a tra­di­tional dump­ing ground time for Hol­ly­wood stu­dio mis­takes. Hansel and Gre­tel: Witch Hunters is a real stinker that’s been moul­der­ing on the shelf at Para­mount af­ter a planned open­ing last March was post­poned. When a flick’s been whit­tled down to just 80 min­utes be­fore the end cred­its, it’s a sure sign of a dump job de­signed to suck up as many dol­lars as pos­si­ble be­fore lethal word-of-mouth spreads. Co-pro­duced by Will Fer­rell, this is an ex­ceed­ingly dull at­tempt to up­date the Brothers Grimm. In this mis­guided se­quel, the grown-up Hansel (Jeremy Ren­ner) and Gre­tel (lovely Gemma Arter­ton) have gone into the witch-hunt­ing busi­ness af­ter shov­ing one into an oven as kids. Armed with anachro­nis­tic ma­chine guns, grenades and tasers, the brother and sis­ter turn up in the Bavar­ian vil­lage of Aus­burg, where the lo­cals are about to burn a red­head they be­lieve is a witch re­spon­si­ble for the dis­ap­pear­ance of a num­ber of chil­dren. Much to the an­noy­ance of the sher­iff (Peter Stor­mare), they set the red­head free and set out to cap­ture the ac­tual cul­prit, the Great Witch (Famke Janssen) be­fore she can con­vene a witch con­ven­tion. Or some­thing like that. All sort of generic fan­tasy tropes and cheesy spe­cial ef­fects are bor­ingly trun­dled out by Nor­we­gian di­rec­tor Tommy Wirkola ( Dead Snow), whose screen­play could prob­a­bly fit on a nap­kin. Noth­ing makes a whole lot of sense in this in­co­her­ent movie, whose di­rec­tor’s phi­los­o­phy seems to be: when in doubt, cut some­body’s head off. Janssen, who wears some ghastly make-up, is on record as say­ing she did Hansel and Gre­tel: Witch Hunters to pay off her mort­gage. We can only won­der what ex­cuse Ren­ner, an Os­car nom­i­nee for The Hurt Locker and The Town, could pos­si­bly of­fer for his third thank­less (if highly re­mu­ner­a­tive) role in a row fol­low­ing Marvel’s the Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. Ren­ner looks vaguely em­bar­rassed through­out. When the Great Witch’s trail leads them back to that same house for the mind­lessly anti-cli­mac­tic cli­max of Hansel and Gre­tel: Witch Hunters, Hansel quips, ‘‘You’ve gotta be f---ing kid­ding me.’’

Our sen­ti­ments ex­actly.

opens to­day.

Gemma Arter­ton in a scene from

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