"“Whatever you do, don't eat the f**kin' candy”"
If you’ve seen the trailer for this movie, or indeed any TV spots or posters you may have already made your mind up about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and you’d be forgiven for reserving judgement on what is a text book Hollywood strategy of taking a traditional and beloved concept, in this case a Brothers Grimm fairy tale and turning it into box office gold by slinging money and star power at it like it was going out of fashion!
While all those things may be true, in actual fact the end result isn’t half bad and the film is genuinely a lot of fun! This is partly down to the filmmaking team behind the film, produced by Will Ferrell and Adam Mckay’s Gary Sanchez production company which gives the film a certain amount of comedic kudos, but predominantly the film succeeds in it’s direction. Tommy Wirkola is the brain or should that be braaaaaain child of Norwegian horror comedy Dead Snow, about a group of Nazi zombies that terrorize a hapless bunch of tourists during their holiday. The film was tasteless, offensive, gory and pretty terrifying in parts, and thankfully Wirkola hasn’t had to compromise any of his warped sensibilities as he makes the potentially career damaging path from foreign language into English language.
So if you are going into Hansel and Gretel expecting a family friendly romp in the same vein as 2005's Brothers Grimm, you're in for a bit of shock. H&G is a gory, foul mouthed and darkly comic tale.. think Quentin Tarantino meets Shrek. The opening alone is a indication of the kind of film we can expect as our two young protagonists are left abandoned in the woods and stumble across the diabetic inducing gingerbread house only to encounter the hideous witch within who soon suffers at the hands of Hansel and Gretel after she’s burned alive inside her own oven, a truly twisted Wirkola moment and there are plenty more to come! From there the traditional story we all know takes a slight detour, as the siblings grow up to become mythical mercenaries, guns for hire in a world over run by witches and other nasty foes, what follows is a darkly comic romp featuring outlandish weaponry, gruesome deaths (If you’ve ever wondered what a giant troll stepping on a human might look like you’re in for a treat!) and a pleasing array of swearing!
In order to fill the shoes of fairy tales most famous brother and sister duo, we have an equally famous pair of young Hollywood upstarts in the form of man du jour Jeremy Renner and our very own Gemma Arteton. In any other situation this pair would make a decent on screen romance but for the sake of things getting a bit weird they’re definitely brother and sister..ok? Incestuous insinuation aside, the pair both bring a certain badass-ery to their respective roles, particularly Arterton who can deliver a deadly headbutt just as deftly as the next man, and she’s not averse to the occasional f-bomb either! Renner is proving himself to be more and more the leading man, but he’s also something of an underrated comedic actor (With Will Ferrell's company producing, maybe we could see a pairing with Renner in the near future) and here he gets a chance to try out his deadpan shtick, lines such as “Whatever you do, don't eat the f**kin' candy” is a particular crowd pleaser!
All in all, Hansel and Gretel is a satisfying action adventure, although it plays with iconic source material, Wirkola has created something distinctly unique and is a far superior film compared to the more recent fairy tale movie adaptations of late such as Mirror Mirror and Snow White And The Huntsman, but make no mistake this is definitely not one for the kiddiewinkles!