A Picture’s Worth #117: “Hansel And Gretel, Witch Hunters Is A House Of Visual Candy”
All contents ©2013 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2013 their respective owner(s).
From the moment I saw the previews for the new Tommy Wirkola written-and-directed flick HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, I knew I had to check it out. If for no reason than for the visuals, the fights, the bad jokes, and seeing Jeremy Renner act like a Dark Ages Hawkeye kicking witchy butt. You have to give the filmmakers credit for taking a five-minute fairy tale and making it into a two-hour action flick.
While not as much the thrill ride I’d hoped for, it was worth my time. From Renner’s opening narration about “burning a witch’s ass”, you know it doesn’t take itself seriously. (That and the use of non-period terms like “hillbillies” and lines like “are you f***ing kidding me?”) There are a few intentionally laugh-out-loud moments and dialog lines, and a few that may not have been.
It looked like everyone involved had a blast making it, perhaps a bit more than the viewers. But the effects were good, the story cohesive for what it was, and the candy sweet for the eye (one shirtless scene of Renner and one nude scene of his pseudo girlfriend; none for his sister, played by Gemma Arterton, although her tight-as-paint spandex certainly showcased her callipygian charms).
Action scenes were paced lightning-quick, with some potentially dizzying cuts; normal for those under 30 but may be jarring for those above middle age. Blink and you’ll miss some things. The witches all have heavy, cracked-face makeup. They looked cool, but for those like me weaned on the Graham Ingels and Bernie Wrightson EC “Old Witch” character, we’ve seen cooler and scarier.
One of the characters was a CG troll that was well rendered except for oddly fake-looking eyes. There’s a nice variety of witches, especially during the climax. Fans of the X-MEN films will quickly recognize former Phoenix Famke Janssen as the main villain, at least in her human form.
The stunts are the expected clever-but-defy-reality fun, as are a few creative medieval versions of contemporary items like a TASER that would make the Professor on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND jealous.
A decent amount of gore and only a couple intentionally-gross-out-the audience scenes that you can see coming (so if needed, you can look away and still enjoy your popcorn).
All in all, that’s what this was—filmic popcorn. (I like popcorn, just not for every meal.) So I rate it a “rent it”–no need to waste money seeing it in 3D, and you can enjoy it just as much on your home screen (larger the better, of course). But worth a Redbox rental or OnDemand freebie.
I also watched OnDemand the 2005 flick, KISS KISS BANG BANG!, starring a pre-IRON MAN Robert Downey Jr. and the talented Val Kilmer.
Written and directed by Shane Black, this was a slow-starting wild ride full of great, snappy dialog and plot twists. (I had to rewind several parts to make sure I got every delicious word and reference.) Downey is perfect as a down-graded version of Tony Stark (which is a version of himself). The narration breaks the fourth wall regularly and naturally; not an easy thing to pull off but I thought it was written very well. If you don’t mind heaping doses of the “F” word and frank sexual talk, you should enjoy it. Catch it if you can.