The Hansel and Gretel story from the Brothers Grimm is familiar to American as well as German children. A poor woodcutter and his wife abandon the starving brother and sister in the woods, the children stumble upon a house made of sweets; the witch who lives there tries to eat them; they burn her alive in her own oven. Laden with the witch's treasure, they return home to their now-widowed father, with whom they live happily ever after.
"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" picks up the story 15 years later, when the two children are 20-something witch bounty hunters. You find 'em, we grind 'em, could be their motto -- they use all kinds of witch-killing weapons the Brothers Grimm could never have imagined. When H & G arrive in Augsburg, they find a town in an uproar over the number of missing children, a so-called witch about to be killed, and, naturally, a lot of witches.
"Hansel and Gretel" stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the brother and sister; Famke Janssen as an evil sorceress; and Pihla Viitala as the red-headed woman mistaken as a witch but saved by Hansel. It runs 88 minutes and is rated R.
Here's what the critics are saying:
"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" is more Gatling guns and grenades than The Brothers Grimm. It takes the kidnapped kiddies into adulthood, where they've parlayed their fame at cooking a witch's goose into a business. Got a witch problem? Call H & G — the extermination experts. High concept pitch or no, the movie doesn't really work. They were shooting for sort of a witch-hunting "Zombieland," an f-bomb-riddled "Van Helsing" packed with comical anachronisms — a Bavarian forest past with witch trials, pump shotguns and primitive tasers, where bottles of milk have woodcut pictures of "missing children" on the labels. Roger Moore, McClatchy Tribune News Service
Recent years have seen numerous attempts to reinvigorate fairytales for an adult audience fall on their faces with Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm and Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood both notable failures that will understandably make audiences wary of Hansel & Gretel. And while Renner's performance here is merely adequate -- Arterton fares way better -- the film's real strength is [Director Tommy] Wirkola and his commitment to embracing the period and fantasy setting, rather than smugly mocking it. After all, this is a story about witches, trolls, magic and houses made of candy, and yet somehow Wirkola interprets that as an R-rated splatter fest, packed full of exploding bodies, crushed skulls, decapitations and even nudity. James Marsh, Twitch Film
Actor Jeremy Renner has been on a roll ever since his Academy Award–nominated performances in The Hurt Locker and The Town, which have translated into roles in franchises like The Avengers, the Bourne movies and Mission: Impossible. There's no telling whether the upcoming horror comedy Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will be the next franchise for Renner, as audiences won't know until early next year whether the decision to delay the movie (twice!) was a red flag or savvy scheduling. Reelz TV about Movies