Released: Jan. 25
Is this the future of movies? As film progressively shifts from being a storytelling medium into a visual medium, “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” is at the forefront of being all visual and no story. The title alone doesn’t promise much. Only two types of people might want to watch this movie. Those people are fans of Jeremy Renner (who isn’t?) and people that have nothing better to do on a weekend. Audiences that choose to see this movie will regret it.
Everything about this movie is artificial. The costumes characters wear are cartoony. The guns they carry look like plastic props. The sets are laughably unbelievable. And the story is as simplistic as it gets. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are witch hunters. That is the plot. Sure, there is a sub-plot of why their parents abandoned them as children, but by the time it comes to fruition, audiences won’t care.
The ridiculous nature of this movie gets tiresome fast. There is a scene where one of the characters shoots down a horde of witches with a Gatling gun. The fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel was published in 1812, but The Gatling gun wasn’t patented until 1862. Sure, this could be forgivable if the movie wasn’t so blatant with this “it looks cool, so let’s have it” ideology. There are moments were it’s obvious the writing process began with “wouldn’t it be cool if—”.
The screenplay felt like it is written by a 13-year-old boy who thinks blood and swearing is “so cool”. “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” might have the most lenient PG-13 rating in the history of cinema. Characters get their limbs ripped apart, get their head smashed in and blown into pieces, and the movie shows every mutilation on screen without hesitation or fear. F-bombs are thrown in randomly without any purpose, which makes the dialogue noticeably contrived and just plain hokey. Why is there so much gore? Why is there so much swearing?
Well, the screenwriter/director, Tommy Wirkola, thought it would be “cool,” as if he had had a child’s mentality. But, it isn’t “cool” when there is no story underneath the blood and guts. Movies can be violent, visually appealing and still able to tell great stories. Filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino (with “Django Unchained”) and Nicolas Winding Refn (with “Drive”) recently were able to communicate a riveting narrative through the means of violence and profanity. There is no excuse for lack of plot in a film, especially given how much ticket prices cost these days.
And, for those that enter this film just wanting to see action, this movie doesn’t deliver the goods. The action scenes are gratuitous, needless and, worst of all, boring. They last too long and ruin the pacing of the film. So, if the action isn’t good and the story isn’t good, is there anything redeemable about this film? No. Don’t watch it.
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