Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) Review


Ugh. What an absolute mess. Jumping on the (largely so far unsuccessful) Hollywood bandwagon of modernising fairy-tales comes “Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters”, a desperately uneven film that seems equally uncertain in both tone and execution.

With a premise designed to appeal to a family audience, the film nevertheless features gratuitous violence and gore and a completely unnecessary level of profanity. I’m no prude and certainly not squeamish but the jovial, jokey tone of the rest of this film sat uneasily alongside the cheap-looking gore spatter effects while the swearing was puerile and forced. The plot is nonsensical and nothing makes sense in a story where events seem to follow one and other arbitrarily. One of the most frustrating things for me was that Hansel and Gretel, the great and powerful witch hunters, were clearly terrible at fighting and hunting witches and inevitably the fight scenes ended with one or both of them captured, knocked out or otherwise incapacitated.

Hollywood’s go-to guy for generic second-string leading men, Jeremy Renner, basically reheats his performance from any of his films from the past few years while Gemma Arterton brings a bizarre choice of mid-Atlantic accent to her portrayal of Gretel. Ms Arterton deserves a modicum of credit for raising her performance to the degree that despite the fact much of the film takes place in various forests, you can often tell her apart from the other wooden objects. Famke Janssen as the main villain will no doubt be thankful she spends much of the film almost unrecognisable under the makeup.

The production design is actually great, and there are hints here and there that this could have been something pretty good if it could just make up its mind. The absurdly short running time (88 minutes) hints that it may have, at one point, been intended to be a very different animal. A dark, violent, uncompromisingly grim retelling of Hansel & Gretel would have worked. A more comic, jokey take on the whole story with increased family appeal might also have worked. This unappealing, awkward mish-mash of the two fails on almost every level.




  1. Sam August 2, 2013

    I agree – although I think I’d include some expletives, that’s just how I roll.
    It just wasn’t very good!! Not even the pretty faces of Gemma and Jeremy could save it for me…

  2. quaiacom August 2, 2013

    I don’t have a problem with swearing in general, and great profanity can make great dialogue – just ask Tarantino, but the swearing in this was done with all the finesse and stunted vocabulary of a sullen 14 year old!

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