Paramount’s new version of the Hansel and Gretel legendary fairy tale, now titled “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” feels like the first segment of a future franchise.
However, judging by the ridiculous narrative and poor execution, which even gifted actors like Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner and Gemma Aterton cannot rescue, I doubt whether there would be a second chapter. Going into wide release, with negative reviews and word of mouth, “Hansel & Gretel” seems to be yet another bad movie released in January as a one-weekend fare.
In paper, considering the talent involved, the concept is workable. In tune with our times, the movie takes a darker, more twisted approach, turning the fable into a wannabe fast-paced actioner.
But even by its own measures, this Hansel and Gretel is too preposterous, too cynical, and uninvolving as a sly action adventure to deliver it’s the genre’s requisite thrill and frill for its primary target audience.
Paramount opted not to do advance screenings for the press, and the early public showing that we caught today shows hy and how.
As written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, the famous story picks up 15 years after the siblings Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) had escape from a child-snatching witch, who changed their lives by giving them, among other things, a real taste for gore and blood.
The first reel finds the protagonists as tough and fierce bounty hunters, dedicated to what they perceive as a justified mission, tracking and terminating witches in dark forests, in short seeking retribution. Using familiar elements from the original classic, we wait for the notorious Blood Moon to approaches, causing a small town to face a series of nightmare for its innocent children.
The Norwegian Wirkola, who had previously helmed the zombie comedy “Dead Snow,” claims that he has had an emotional affinity with the fairy tale ever since he was a young boy. And in theory, his vision of Hansel and Gretel, as grow up figures, living irreverently in a tough world, and functioning as vigilantes of the supernatural kind came into his mind, is not bad as a movie concept, but it’s the dramatic and technical execution that drags the picture down well below its intentions.