HANSEL AND GRETEL WITCH HUNTERS-Germany/United States-2013
Written and Directed by Tommy Wirkola
I purchased Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters 2 weeks ago and I just now got around to watching. There’s a simple reason for that in that my wife said the magic words, ‘I want to watch Hansel and Gretel with you.’ My wife and I keep different hours and therefore our schedules do not always merge as we desire. Alas, we watched the film and had agreeable but somewhat differing opinions about it. She liked the movie. However, she had to suspend her disbelief over some of the historical inaccuracies such as Hansel injecting himself with what appears to be insulin (technically not discovered until 1922); the sketches of missing village children on bottles of milk (Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979, was the child upon which that ‘honor’ was first bestowed); and the use (albeit strangely) of a phonograph recording (invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison). I liked the movie also, even though I found it to be completely ridiculous despite being able to suspend my disbelief. What I couldn’t understand was why the filmmakers had to lower themselves to such levels when there was some amazing action sequences and above average performances from its two stars Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) and Gemma Arterton, Prince of Persia, Quantum of Solace).
After being kidnapped, and subsequently, killing a witch young Hansel and his sister Gretel grow up to become renowned witch hunter/killers. For some unknown reason, which you just know is going to be revealed in the final act of the movie, the two of them are immune to witch magic; therefore making their jobs easier. They encounter witch Muriel (Famke Janssen, X-Men, Hemlock Grove), who’s preparing for the ritual of the Blood Moon by sacrificing the children in the village, six boys and five girls. One more girl is required for the ritual to work and therefore Hansel and Gretel must thwart her nefarious scheme. The siblings receive unlikely assistance; Hansel in the form of the wrongfully accused Mina (Pihla Viitala (Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre); and Gretel from Edward the Troll (Derek Mears, Friday the 13th, Hatchet III). Of course with great assistance comes great opposition and that comes in the form of Sheriff Berringer as played by the scenery chewing Peter Stormare (Pain & Gain, The Big Lebowski).
Despite its flaws Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters is a fun movie. Yes, it throws logic and historical accuracy out the window; I’m sure that’s one of the reasons it angered so many critics upon its release. Let it be said that the majority of critics, this one excluded, have never been party hat wearing, whoopee cushion planting, beer drinking excitable boys. Maybe they just need to get their thumbs out of their collective sphincters and lighten up. It’s okay to like a movie that doesn’t make any sense. It’s okay to like Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.
Diane Kruger, Eva Green and Noomi Rapace were considered to play Gretel, but Gemma Arterton eventually got cast.
In an interview with Famke Janssen at Cannes 2011, she stated that she took her role as the head witch because she had to pay off her mortgage. Janssen has stated multiple times that since 2007, she was prepping her writing/directorial debut “Bringing up Bobby”, where funding and distribution had gone through hard times, partly due to the 2008 economic crisis. She also had not done much acting in that period of time.
In the movie, Hansel is diabetic as a result of his experience in the gingerbread house as a child. In the original script, Gretel was also supposed to have an eating disorder as a result of her childhood trauma, but it was cut from the final version.
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