A very sweet fairytale gone sour
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.
Gemma Arterton in a scene from