Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Wirkola, 2013)
In a desperate and somewhat depressing attempt to wring four hundred words out of a review for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, a film about which there is really not much more to say than, “its title is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” I shall now play a few rounds of “pitch that movie!”
From column one select a famous name (historical or fictional). From column two select a mythical creature. From column three select a verb that is in the thesaurus as a synonym for “kill.” Ready? Go.
Winnie the Pooh: Mummy Exterminator. Ronald Reagan: Unicorn Euthanizer. Johnny Unitas: Mermaid Slayer. Jack and Jill: Mothra Extinguisher. Congratulations, you’ve just green lit the 2014 winter movie season.
The first few months of the year are usually a dumping ground for where movies go to die and this January seems no exception. Hansel & Gretel has the distinction of being big and loud and mediocre in IMAX and while Jeremy Renner’s good-natured hamming makes the first five minutes fun in a “this is a cute idea” kind of way, eventually the movie proper has to start. There are witches and steampunk (which my friend tells me means modern stuff in the style of what was available in the Victorian age) and shots of projectiles flying at you in 3D and explosions and Renner yelling “Gretel!” and Arterton yelling “Hansel!” and a quick break for some non-incestuous skinny dipping and then some more of the same.
I was speaking to a police officer once who told me that he was trained on how to testify in court and that if he said he detected the smell of marijuana and a lawyer asked him “What does marijuana smell like?” the only acceptable answer to give was “It smells like marijuana.”
What is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters about? It is about Hansel. And Gretel. And witches. The former hunt the latter. Yes, but what it is like? It’s like you might expect a film to be if it were telling the story of Hansel and Gretel only instead of being young, they were grown up, and instead of running from witches, they hunted them. It won’t be the worst movie I see all year. Heck, it’s not even the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year. It’s probably, truthfully, the best Hansel & Gretel film I’ve ever seen. Well the best Gretel film, anyway. The best Hansel film is still probably Zoolander.