It took awhile to finally get a chance to see this film – part of the problem for me was the price of admission. I had a slight cringe when the initial marketing for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters splashed ‘3D’ right there along with the title. It’s the surcharge that I’m sure a lot of us just don’t want to pay anymore. Realistically for me after The Hobbit in HFR, what’s the point?
More so nowadays I find myself just wanting to watch a normal 2D movie in high quality.
Outside of the 3D I actually did have an overall apprehension towards Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. I had flashbacks to Van Helsing (2004) and The Brothers Grimm (2005) which had Peter Stormare starring in an almost identical role. Admittedly, I was also suffering from a little bit of Jeremy Renner fatigue, which I can blame the oversaturation of The Avengers (2012) but more so the lackluster The Bourne Legacy (2012). If any of you recall Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was supposed to release back in March 2012. It ended up being delayed 10 months to accommodate Renner’s filming schedule with both of the aforementioned films. I think the delay actually helped, as a moderate success has followed.
And I was happy to contribute my $6.75 towards that moderate success, once Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters finally hit my local cheap theatre (I’m hoping all/most of you have those in your neighboring areas). I still had to pay the 3D surcharge, but the cheap admission cost was something I could swallow. In the end, surprisingly, low expectation-ingly, Jeremy Renner unfatigue-ingly or cheap ticket price-ingly – I genuinely found myself enjoying Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. I know to date, it has received a great deal of negative criticism, but I concur more so with the horror genre critics. The film is ‘unpretentiously entertaining’ and I’d like to go even further with that statement that this is due to director Tommy Wirkola.
Wirkola loves the horror genre and it shows through with the detail he gives Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. The film itself is his first big box office movie, but you wouldn’t know outside of the obvious set pieces, costumes, effects, design, and high profile actors. He treats the film with the same amount of subtle care and attention to detail as his low budget Norwegian horror film, Dead Snow (2009), which follows a group of students being terrorized by Nazi zombies in the snowy mountains.
While that premise may sound crazy that has always been the point of horror films. Particularly ones done in a specific vain to both scare and amuse with a natural sense of dark humor. Which are the ones Wirkola clearly identifies with and of all the appropriate casting done for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. I think he was the perfect director for the job. It’s not a condescending remark just as it’s no coincidence the film bares subtle nods to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films. There is a cautious amount of balance with humor, the spoof, the gore and the scare. While at its core Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is an action film first and foremost, its elements like the sheer variety of witch designs, the film knowing not to take itself seriously and the tangibility of using practical effects that grounds the film.
You can tell on the offset as well, that Renner, Arterton, Stormare and the entire cast are on-board. And as result the film is fun. It’s definitely a genre movie, so looking for anything else beyond that will warrant negative connotations. But for films that warrant pure escapism, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters succeeds. For some viewers that might be enough and for others it’s not. Put me in the camp of the former. Frankly I’m glad I saved a potential $10 in respect to my viewing of the film. Because when Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters comes out on Blu-ray, I’ll be happy to contribute those unspent dollars towards the upcoming unrated/director’s ‘extreme version’ which Wirkola announced.
So for reviewing movies out of the cheap theatre, I’d give Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters a worth the price of $6.75. For the sake of rating it, 6.75/ 10.