Reel Reviews: Gory eye candy not for all tastes

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. - Paramount Pictures
Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
— image credit: Paramount Pictures

New twists on old tales are the flavour of the day and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters tackles this update with a bloody vengeance.

In this new treatment, not only do the delicious abandoned children defeat their captor and escape, they grow up to become professional bounty hunters of witches.

With the approach of the blood moon, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) will have their hands full, shooting, slicing and bashing through what seems to be every witch in the world.

We say, “This isn’t a fairy tale you’ll want your children to see.”

HOWE: A couple of years back we had a fairy tale twist in the shape of the Brothers Grimm, with Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger, which wasn’t that bad. This time around Hansel and Gretel gets an action movie makeover.

It wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was going to be, but there were a couple of things they could have done to make it better: Either eliminate the swearing and nudity to make it a 14A rating, or go all out with guns blazing, keep the blood splatter and create an even more adult story.

TAYLOR: I agree. This film doesn’t clearly cater to any particular audience. If I had to pick a niche it would be 14-year-old boys, who can’t go.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is basically an action movie that moves from one fight scene to the next. It isn’t funny enough to be a comedy, or scary enough to be a horror. I would have reigned the film in a bit, cut some swearing and pointless nudity, and gone for a younger audience. Discerning adults who don’t have a penchant for hack and slash films should avoid this one.

HOWE: On a positive note the witches looked pretty amazing. Gone are the days of a long pointy nose and a wart covered face. What director Tommy Wirola replaces them with are some of the most beautiful ugly hags going: bone white skin with hints of blue and black and cracked lines that look like a porcelain vase that has been put back together with a hot glue gun.

TAYLOR: The horror hags were well done, as was the cinematography and set design. It appeared to be taking place in Germany in the early 19th century, but you wouldn’t know that by the gadgets Hansel and Gretel are packing. I don’t think hypodermic needles, wristwatches, pump action blunderbusses or multi-arrow rotating crossbows existed at the time, but I’m no expert.

HOWE: Not as good as Brothers Grimm but far superior than that crock-load that came out last year, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

TAYLOR: If you’re a fan of action-packed, blood-soaked, non-stop fight sequences with buxom beauties busting out of bodices, this might be the film for you. This is a major motion picture worth $60 million. It’s pretty, but pointless.

— Howe gives Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2.5 flattened heads out of 5.

— Taylor gives it 2 impossible ambushes out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Peter Howe and Brian Taylor are movie reviewers living in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, runs every Friday and Sunday in The Morning Star.

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