Sunday, October 2, 2022

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Movie Name:
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Year of Release: 2013
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Derek Mears, Robin Atkin Downes, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Joanna Kulig, Thomas Mann, Rainer Bock
Genre: Action, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Watch it on Amazon Prime

Synopsis and Review
Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola made a name for himself with "Dead Snow", a zombie film that had the peculiarity of introducing Nazi zombies, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to receive fairly good reviews. "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" which premiered in 2013, is an adaptation of the Grimm Brothers fairytale, and focuses its narrative on the adventures of the grown up siblings, who are now Witch hunters. They find themselves in the town of Augsburg since its Mayor has hired them to come rescue the town's children, who have been missing and presumedly taken by witches. As the siblings investigate what has happened, they are soon at odds with the town's sheriff, and also with the Grand witch Muriel, who is indeed procuring all the children from the town. As their investigation soldiers on, both Hansel and Gretel learn additional information about their own lives, which in turn explains why they're immune to black magic, and also why they were originally left by themselves in the forest as children. The siblings with the help of a local benevolent witch by the name of Mina, unite forces in order to derail the plans from Muriel. 
Tommy Wirkola adapted the Grimm Brothers fairytale into a decidedly more action packed version of the original fairytale, in the process losing much of the magic and darkness which the original fable actually had. The tone of the film is one of its main issues, since the director tries to modernize the narrative, empowering for instance its female characters, while still attempting to illustrate the sexist and misogynistic aspects of certain characters and society. These aspects clash very openly as do the fact that the majority of these characters feel very much like puppets without much dimension to them, simply going through the choreography of the action scenes. Even for a B-movie, which this film at times tries to be, it still lacks a strong point of view, married with enough motivation for the characters to go about what they're trying to solve for. In the end, there's quite a lot of noise, mixed with special effects, which ultimately can't hide the fact that the film simply doesn't have much to say. While Terry Gilliam's "The Brothers Grimm" was an interesting and flawed look at the genesis of these fairytales, marrying the brothers adventures with somewhat of a dark tale of magic, all distilled through his unique point of view, Tommy Wirkola sadly doesn't create enough of a distinct universe for the narrative and these characters to exist and be memorable. The cast tries its best with what they have, including Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton and the underrated Famke Janssen and Peter Stormare, both of which deserved better. A missed opportunity.