Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is really just a Syfy movie on steroids. This is totally a Syfy original movie with a big enough budget to afford the necessary bells and whistles needed to help viewers somewhat overlook the fact that the plot and dialogue are senseless and the characters underdeveloped. It’s never the high energy, crazy cool genre-bending flick Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) so wants it to be. The action, the make-up, the visual effects, the kills: all competently done yet never dazzling and missing that extra oomph, the wow factor that elevates a movie of this nature to cult classic status.
The film sat on a shelf for a year, according to reports, because the studio was hoping Jeremy Renner would be a bigger box office draw after The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. I don’t know about that, but I have no problem pegging him as the weaker half of the titular duo here. Gemma Arterton outshines Renner in every way, even managing to put a sardonic spin on lame one-liners that rely more on vulgarity than wit. At least she does up until the point she’s made more of a damsel in distress in need of rescuing by Hansel.
Renner is so one-note I began to wonder if he was unaware the tone was shooting more towards lighthearted, Raimi-esque horror comedy. Not entirely his fault considering Hansel is only defined by his prowess with a medieval shotgun and a never adequately explained affliction brought on by poison witch candy he was forced to eat as a kid that now requires him to inject himself with some never adequately explained antidote every few hours or else he’ll die. He wears a wrist timer to remind him of when its time for another dose; not sure why he needs it since his collapsing in pain at roughly the exact moment it chimes should be a sufficient enough reminder.
Anachronism abound in this take on the Brothers Grimm classic fairly tale. High-powered firearms in a middle ages’ Bavarian forest. Crude newspaper-like clippings chronicling the exploits of our witch hunting heroes. The most uses of the f-bomb in a medieval fantasy setting this side of a Deathstalker flick. My personal favorite has to have been the drawings of missing children tied to the sides of milk bottles.