Actress Gemma Arterton as Gretel (left) and actor Jeremy Ranner as Hansel in a scene from Hansel & Gratel: Witch Hunters. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)
Have you ever wondered what happened after Hansel and Gretel burned that crazy witch who tried to fatten them up and eat them? Well, here’s your chance.
In the spirit of fairytale remakes of recent times (a-la Snow White and the Huntsman), writer and director Tommy Wirkola’s interpretation of the Brothers Grimm’ fable Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters focuses on the strength our main characters have gained from their folklore histories.
For his part, Wirkola (Snow Blood) seeks to move the characters away from the childhood story that warns us against eating too much candy and into the darkness of witches and truly treacherous forests. Fast-forward 15 years since killing the candy-tempting witch and Hansel, played by Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, Bourne Legacy and The Hurt Locker), and his sister Gretel, played by relative newcomer Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace), have made a new life for themselves as rogue bounty hunters.
With a new plague of kidnappings causing panic in their old town of Augsburg, Hansel and Gretel return for the cash reward and face off against Muriel (Famke Janssen) the highest black witch. As the Blood Moon approaches and more children disappear, Hansel and Gretel looks set for an all-out war of good versus evil.
Through Arterton’s performance, Gretel emerges a stronger, fiercer force than her brother. She has become a sassy, rough talking and altogether kick-ass vigilante following their childhood encounter with the witch. Her focus now is on finding the truth of what happened to their parents and making sure the burning of alleged witches is justified.
Hansel, on the other hand, has grown into much more of a “do first, ask questions later” type of a man who bares the scars of battle but refuses to dwell on them. Although Renner has made a name for himself as somewhat of an action star, the awkward social manners he gives Hansel and glib delivery is a much more refreshing element of his character.
As an amusing side note, look out for one of the side effects Hansel has developed from being forced to eat all that candy as a child. The need to inject himself every few hours with insulin is a quirky character trait. Again, heed the warning and don’t eat too much candy or you could develop diabetes and die.
The deep, rich tones of the set add to the cinematography and are what really bring this film to life, reflecting the eeriness of a haunted and sinister fairytale forest. In typical Wirkola style Hansel & Gretel gives audiences dark humor accompanied by blood-splattering deaths and action-packed fight scenes.
If you’re a little squeamish, don’t let that stop you as the film jumps through fight scenes to face each new foe before the last has even made a mark on the floor. Special-effects fans should also appreciate Muriel’s turn from seductive beauty to grotesque hell-seeker thanks to the incredible job done by the makeup artists and special effects team, not to mention the fast-flying witches on good old-fashioned broomsticks.
In the words of Hansel, you will really only learn two things from this movie: “One, never walk into a house made of candy. And two, if you’re going to kill a witch, set her ass on fire”. But for 90 minutes worth of dark, dry humor and reimagined action and adventure, why not give this film a go.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
(88 minutes, Paramount Pictures)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen and Pihla Viltala
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writer: Tommy Wirkola and Dante Harper
Producers: Will Ferrell, Christopher Fisser and Beau Flynn
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.
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