Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray)
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Get ready for a twisted take on the classic tale as Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have turned pro, coping with the trauma of their childhood captivity by slaying witches for hire. But when the seemingly unstoppable bounty hunters meet their match in an enemy so evil, it’ll take all their training, weapons and courage to survive.
The standard Blu-ray features the unrated version.
The 3D Blu-ray features the theatrical version.
There are too many body parts flying around Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters to single out the tongue that has nearly been gnawed off in the cheek of its clever premise that fairy-tale heroes have grown up into savage supernatural mercenaries. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton strut around like 18th-century Avengers in leather uniforms, cursing up a storm of modern vernacular and bearing an inventive array of historically and mechanically impossible weapons such as grenades, crossbows, tasers, machine guns, and other weapons of witch-killing mass destruction. It's all a big joke of course, and one that the movie wears boldly and without a shred of irony. To quibble with its gaps in narrative logic or be righteously indignant that the script is often a slapdash mess is to miss the point that it's all meant to be a pile of plain old silly fun. After their childhood trauma at the gingerbread house, the famous Teutonic siblings are now in the business of killing witches full time, hiring themselves out to villages plagued by ugly, evil women wearing loads of scary makeup (Famke Janssen being the evilest and scariest) who feed on the townsfolk's kids. They do their job well and the movie spares no opportunity to show the effect of their fantastical arsenal with profusions of firepower, explosions, viscera, and disgusting cartoon violence, decapitation being the most favoured method of killing by the movie and the title characters both. As the latest in the trend of revisionist fairy-tale telling, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters takes the low road whenever possible, but it does so with a blithe spirit, a foul mouth, and the above-mentioned gore galore to create a B-movie soul that pities any sort of critical over-analysing. It's also pretty funny. There are several inspired offhand moments, such as the missing-children notices slapped on the sides of farmers' milk cans or the way Hansel has to make time for insulin injections because of the gingerbread overdoses he endured at the hand of the proto witch he and Gretel encountered as children. The art direction, wardrobe, and anachronistically engineered props that propel the story all have a cool steampunk design theme and make the silliness pretty hard to resist. Renner, Arterton, and Janssen aren't really taking things too seriously, which is fine because neither are we. This is the American debut of Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola, who brings the same playful gross-out sensibility he did to his 2009 feature Dead Snow. That one was about long-dormant Nazi soldiers rising up as zombies. What fun! It was a lark and a goof, just like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. --Ted Fry
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The opening credits a reminiscent of ‘Lemony Snikett’ anf the fast driving music is likewise quirky. Instantly we know this is special. The entire story has been given that steam-punked edge with sleek costumes and snazzy weaponry. The special effects and make up are first class with good acting from all and a clear picture quality.
The single disc opens to language selection of English or Netherlands, selection takes you to main screen offering play, set up [basically subtitles or audio description], special features [a single making of documentery] and scene selection. Rated at 15 it has everything, nudity, gratuitous swearing, bloody gory deaths, burnings and head crushings and in many respects outdoes a lot of ‘dedicated horror’ movies, so this is definitely not one for the kiddies. If you like action with a comic twist -although the plot twists do seem rather obvious, and like the recent trend for giving everything a Victoriana steampunked edge, you’ll probably love this, but if you want the traditional fairytale approach look elsewhere.
The story was good (we all know it) with some real humour in it and moved along quite nicely. A very enjoyable and amusing film with very good effects throughout and a nice twist on the original story.
The 3D effects were stunning, the best I have yet seen with any 3D film I own. I knew I was in for something special when, during the opening credits, a fire arrow appeared to shoot out of the screen and disappear over my left shoulder! And so it carried on with bits and pieces "flying" out of the screen at regular intervals. Very clever use of 3D imagery to what was already a very enjoyable film. Cannot but highly recommend.
What happens next in the story may nowadays be considered suitable for kids. What happens next in this film version of it most definitely isn't.
Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters starts with the familiar opening. Then fast forwards to years later and shows us the siblings all grown up. And getting their own back on witches by having become bounty hunters who specialise in dealing with them.
Both have a tough no nonsense attitude. A reputation that precedes them. Weaponry that doesn't quite fit the time period. And American accents.
But when hired to deal with a witch who has taken children from a small town, they find there's a bit more to this job than meets the eye...
Horror meets Steampunk [something set centuries back involving fantastical technology in the style of the time. Like something written by Jules Vern] in a twisted take on the original tale. This tries to mix genres and succeeds at doing that pretty well. Horror fans will not be disappointed with the downright nasty witches. And the gory moments. The period setting and the more modern pop culture parodies - such as the duo having an admirer and being the subject of newspaper reports - go together quite well. All the steampunk stuff is pretty inspired also.
The two leads are pretty good. Jeremy Renner's character does remain stoic throughout but he does a good job of making him a tough action hero. Gemma Arterton does a decent American accent, and gets some good character development also.
It's an odd film directing wise though, as it's rather choppily edited. And you do wonder if it's been assembled from a far longer cut. It does tend to jump between scenes somewhat abruptly, with characters getting from place to place quickly and with no explanation.
So whilst it doesn't quite work all the time, when it does, it's pretty good. At being what it sets out to be. A fun twisted horror romp. If that's the kind of thing you're looking for, then this will more than suffice. And provides some pretty decent escapism.
The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:
Subtitles: English, Dutch.
There are no trailers on the disc and it will go straight into the menu once you load it up.
The only extra is an eight minute long featurette which primarily looks at how the witches and some of the set pieces in the film were created. As with most featurettes on dvds these days, it's short but quite decent viewing.
advances a year or two to when 'Hansel and Gretel' are now grown up.
they have become folk-lore heroes hunting down 'Witches' that have kidnapped
children from villages and towns.
their task....save the children if they can, and always kill the Witches.
the people of the town they have been asked to help by the mayor, listen
to the sheriff who has convinced them they don't need our heroes, little
do they know in truth.
the 'Black Witch' and her followers are waiting for the famous 'Witch-hunters'
with expectations as the night of the 'red' moon approaches.
a lively and action-packed blood-letting tale with some great visual effects
along the way. ( might feel the need to duck a few times if watching in 3-D )
the film has been made for 'entertainment' and to that end it's an enjoyable
ninety minutes viewing that is not a fairy-tale for kids.
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