Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — As animated films have certainly given moviegoers some of the most quirky or fun interpretations of classic fairytales over the past several years, it made sense that live action would not wait too long to capitalize on the opportunity. I’ve really never seen a problem with this concept and if our nation’s 16th president can go on a vampire killing spree, I see no reason why some of those beloved Brother’s Grimm characters can’t also be exploited for entertainment bucks.
Heck, even when these types of things are at their worst, you can at least be guaranteed a few laughs or a reason to thank the stars you don’t have to be reviewed by critics. That said, this actually ends up being somewhere around enjoyably terrible with a plot barely around B-Movie at best, but an exchange that may yet earn it cult support. “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” is perhaps watchable only to stick it to those who try to compare it to something great and a fun distraction for the dark comedy aficionados.
Set in all that area that eventually either became Germany or Austria, we meet the familiar childhood duo of Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton), who as we find out end up in the woods because their father (Thomas Scharff) is hiding them from something. After they are left there for quite a while they go through that whole eating and getting captured in the candy house in the woods ordeal, the survival of which inspires them to save any other future children from falling victim to the evil spell casters.
They pretty much become a celebrated bounty hunting super team, celebrated wherever they go, with no real resolution in sight until they come upon a German community called Augsburg that is caught up in a massive disappearance of children. Here our heroes eventually run into something like the queen of witches known as Muriel (Famke Janssen), who seems to know more about their parent’s than they do and why they’ve been so hard to bump off by their foes. The ensuing battle never really gets all that clever or well thought out, but hey, at one point we get to see some pretty sweet witch killing weapons like a steampunk version of a Gatling gun.
Perhaps the only flaw that came close to annoying was the failing that had to occur somewhere in the sound editing department since it’s darn near impossible to understand bits and pieces of the dialogue. The biggest victim for that falls on what we assume is a village girl babe they save from being burned as a witch named Mina (Pihla Viitala), who at first only seems to work as a getting laid delay from bringing the story to a quicker conclusion.
I suppose the best way to really enjoy it is to leave any sort of expectations behind and try not to think of a quality higher than some of the more enjoyable slasher/horror films what with the crushed head here or the blood spray there. I’ll likely not see it again save a few minutes on TV during random future afternoon, but the best target crowd here might be middle school and high school kids looking to either gross out their pals or girlfriends. That said, I’d give “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” two out of five curses.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.