I may as well admit that I was more excited about Hansel and Gretel than I should have been. Blame Jeremy Renner.
I didn’t even bother to keep my expectations in check. The trailer made it clear that Hansel and Gretel was going to be absolute nonsense and I went to the cinema comforted by this knowledge.
PLOT: After their parents abandon them in the middle of a wood Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are lured to a sweet covered house whereupon they are captured by a witch. Hansel and Gretel defeat the witch and grow up into fierce witch hunters. Twelve children go missing in the town of Augsburg which leads Hansel and Gretel to discover that the Grand Witch (Famke Janssen) is conjuring a spell that makes witches immune to fire. END PLOT
The opening scenes play out the traditional Grimm fairy tale however once Hansel and Gretel grow up we are introduced to a world where anachronistic errors and steampunk are living together in perfect harmony.
The plot is paper thin but its sole purpose is to string together a series of decent chase scenes through a picturesque forest. This isn’t a complaint. I didn’t go to see Hansel and Gretel expecting a dark psychological insight into sugar addiction and failed parenting.
The casting of Jeremy Renner was the main draw and he didn’t disappoint. Renner is his usual bored/angry self and gets the chance to throw in a couple of sarcastic quips. Hansel (who is so hot right now) is also a diabetic which caused much unintentional amusement when he almost slipped into a diabetic coma during the final battle.
Gemma Arterton is grand as Gretel and does a commendable America accent. One can only assume that Arterton's American accent was better than Renner's English but given the numerous accents that can apparently be found in the rural German countryside I doubt anyone would have noticed if she hadn't bothered.
Despite being a formidable duo Hansel and Gretel spent quite a lot of time apart and the film suffered for it as when they were together Renner and Arterton had chemistry. The final scene gave the obligatory sequel hints and I would expect to see a lot more brother/sister banter if this ever occurs.
The supporting cast of Famke Janssen and Thomas Mann, as a young hunter, are fine if unremarkable.
The action is good and all of the bloody deaths (and there were plenty) are played for laughs. Tommy Wirkola adopts a similar attitude towards gore as he did in Dead Snow and it suited the tone of the film perfectly.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters gave me exactly what I expected so I have no cause to complain. It gets 7.5/10. If you keep your expectations low and just enjoy the ridiculousness it is great fun.