Their latest gig is in the town of Augsburg, where a number of children have disappeared recently, presumably at the hands of witches. The hunters uncover a plot by a powerful dark magician named Muriel (Famke Janssen), who's trying to concoct a potion to take away witches's vulnerability to fire. Can they foil the plan before it's too late? And what will they uncover about their past in the process?
The End Result
Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that Norwegian writer-director Tommy Wirkola's first language isn't English, and there are some nuances of humor that didn't translate -- at least, nowhere near as effectively as in his cult zombie flick Dead Snow. Whatever the reason, once you get past the intriguing nature of the mashup concept, the story is bland, the characters are uninteresting, the humor (or lack thereof) falls flat and even the fast-paced action sequences -- the core of the film's draw -- fail to show any real originality. Because the witches' powers are useless against Hansel and Gretel, the action boils down to a bunch of generic gun fights and hand-to-hand fights that separate themselves from the bulk of Hollywood fare only due to their period trappings. The production design strives for a nifty medieval steam punk vibe, but, like most aspects of the film, it doesn't go far enough.
The only part of the movie that exudes the level of glee you might expect is its over-the-top gore -- which shouldn't come as a surprise to fans of Dead Snow. However, Hensel & Gretel has a breezy, Hollywood blockbuster look and feel (which Dead Snow lacked) that doesn't gel with the overt blood 'n guts.
- Acting: D+ (Stiff and unfunny, Renner feels miscast.)
- Direction: C+ (Well-shot, kinetic action sequences, but overall it feels sterile and lacking in emotion.)
- Script: D (Interesting concept, but boring characters and bland plot.)
- Gore/Effects: B- (High level of gore; good mix of practical makeup effects and CGI.)
- Overall: C- (Not terrible, but immediately forgettable.)
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is directed by Tommy Wirkola and is rated R by the MPAA for strong fantasy horror violence and gore, brief sexuality/nudity and language. Release date: January 25, 2013.