At the Movies: Hansel and Gretel – Witch Hunters

As fairy tales go, “Hansel and Gretel” is arguably the grimmest.

Two young siblings abandoned in woods. Discover house made of candy. Seems like a good deal, but the owner is a cannibalistic witch who decides to cook and eat them. Kids turn the tables and fry the witch instead.

It’s the kind of experience that would leave a mark.

“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” offers an explanation as to what happened to the brother and sister when they grew up. It turns out, perhaps to no surprise, that they became obsessed with hunting down and killing witches.

Hey, it makes more sense than Abraham Lincoln growing up to hunt vampires.

hanselgretel1030As the story begins, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have been hired by the mayor (Rainer Bock) of a small village to take care of a witch problem. Several children have gone missing and the sheriff (Peter Stormare) is convinced the culprit is a young woman named Mina (Pihla Viitala). H&G determine that Mina isn’t a witch (mainly because she’s too pretty) and set her free, making an enemy of the sheriff in the process.

It turns out there is indeed a witch living in the nearby woods — a very powerful witch. This witch (Famke Janssen) needs twelve children and the heart of a good witch in order to cast a spell that will make her and her bad witch sisters invincible. This poses a problem for Hansel as he doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as a good witch.

“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” travels familiar ground for anyone who’s seen “Van Helsing,” “The Brothers Grimm” or the previously referred to “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” There’s action, humor, some fair special effects and makeup, and lots of blood and dismemberment.

I probably wouldn’t even have bothered to see a movie called “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” — especially on a cold January night — if not for Jeremy Renner. In just a few short years he’s become my favorite actor, and not just because he played Hawkeye. I have not yet seen a bad movie starring Renner. “H&G” definitely doesn’t belong in the same league with “The Hurt Locker,” “The Town,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” “The Avengers” or “The Bourne Legacy,” but it’s not terrible. I was expecting much worse. Not a glowing endorsement, I realize.

I saw this in IMAX 3D and if you’re willing to shell out IMAX 3D prices for a movie like “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” well, I can at least say it’s good 3D.





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