The UnPopular Opinion: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!


I clearly and unequivocably declare myself a snob when it comes to horror movies.  I love high caliber studio far like THE EXORCIST and THE SHINING while also loving grindhouse cinema of the 1970s, especially Italian giallo and zombie films.  I love a good scary movie (even though I rarely get scared).  But, I have almost no tolerance for the crap that passes itself off as horror these days.  The vast majority of horror movies are garbage simply due to the fact that they essentially have to be made on an independent budget with zero acting quality and even poorer special effects.  Now and then, you will find a good one, but nothing beats a well made horror flick.  Now, I will make an exception for a movie that may not be the best acted or executed if it is fun to watch.  HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS clearly falls into that category.

Tommy Wirkola, best known for the DEAD SNOW films, directed HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS with the same tone, style, and vicious gore.  This is a movie that should in no way be taken seriously.  Unlike recent big budget fairy tale reboots like SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS knows it is ridiculous and over the top.  But, instead of trying to pretend it is something it is not, Wirkola's film revels in it's insanity.  It is easy to write the film off as easily as Terry Gilliam's butchered THE BROTHERS GRIMM, which should have been as fun as this movie, but HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS has a much better comparison.

You found me pretty once.

Wirkola managed to direct a movie that is perfect for fans of Sam Raimi's ARMY OF DARKNESS.  How many of you out there watch Bruce Campbell in that film and take it seriously?  ARMY OF DARKNESS is the rare movie that is a comedy within a world of horror.  HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS is the perfect companion to watch with that movie as a Halloween double feature.  Both are mildly scary but ultimately very enjoyable comedies.  Forget the fact that the entire cast is a mish-mosh of various accents, this is a movie that takes the traditional fairy tale and condenses it into a ten minute opening sequence before establishing an entirely unique story with a fully fleshed out mythology.

HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS is the movie Stephen Sommers' VAN HELSING should have been. Bringing together a classic story that everyone is familiar with and turning it on it's ear is what all of these new franchises and fairy tale movies are attempting, but scale is getting in their way.  Tommy Wirkola manages to make moments in HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS feel as if they were created on a much bigger budget.  This doesn't look like a cheap movie and the special effects are very impressive.  Part of this also comes from the quality of the cast as well.

Someone farted.  Guess who?

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are a natural pairing on the big screen.  Usually, two attractive leading actors have a sexual chemistry on screen, but Renner and Arterton are a perfect match as killer siblings.  The two have a tangible connection as well as the typical brother-sister dynamic that is often hard to pull off on the big screen.  The two also have a great supporting cast including Peter Stormare who played a similar role in THE BROTHERS GRIMM and Famke Janssen as the evil witch Muriel.  Overall, the cast is unknowns outside of the aforementioned performers, but the highlight is Derek Mears and Robin Atkin Downes as the troll Edward.  A character that could have easily been the Jar-Jar Binks of the movie ends up not only as comic relief but a memorable special effects creation.

This movie, produced by Will Ferrell, does not hold any illusions that it wants to be funny.  The jokes here are intentional and can easily be misconstrued by viewers as being evidence of a low quality film rather than the tone the movie is going for.  HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS wants to take the best of B-movies, Quentin Tarantino, fairy tales, and the works of Sam Raimi to present a movie.  This is not a film and it doesn't pretend to be.  If you want to see Jeremy Renner in an Oscar-caliber performance, this is not the place for you.  This is a movie for people who like going for a short ride.  Will the movie stick with you for years to come?  Probably not.  You may not even find it very quotable, but it is not a movie you will come out of feeling you just wasted your time.


HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS is a strongly European film and does not feel like the product of a Hollywood studio.  That being the case, this is not a movie for the highbrow audiences looking for a movie that ponders the human condition.  This is a movie about goofy dialogue, accents that don't match, and unadulterated violence.  This is not a movie that will make you a better person, but it is the type of fun flick that you can sit back and smile about as you watch the carnage unfold.  This is the best movie Sam Raimi never made and that is high praise.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com



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