Film review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

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Jeremy Renner finds himself in a fairy tale nightmare and loaded for bear on a hunt for witches and dignity. Jeremy Renner finds himself in a fairy tale nightmare and loaded for bear on a hunt for witches and dignity.

Should I go? Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters provokes the flight instinct

Now that it seems the impossible has happened—Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a movie that was produced and released—there are questions. Why? is just the first.

For example, is this movie a comedy? Horror? A—gasp!—drama? Why does Jeremy Renner play Hansel for laughs? Why does Gemma Arterton play Gretel straight, but occasionally for laughs? Why is Famke Janssen so, so, so serious? For that matter, why is she covered in hideous make-up for the most of the movie when she has such an exquisite face?

When Renner says, “I think the real damage was to my dignity,” was he talking about appearing in this film? Why is a troll the only character with whom we identify? Why is Peter Stormare wasted in such a tiny part? Why do some actors have accents while others sound like Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Why do all movies with colons in the title suck? What’s with the lame recurring diabetes gag? Does anyone responsible for this script know what diabetes is?

Now the technical questions: Why is the 3D so bad? Why is the movie edited so fast-fast-fast when the 3D makes everything that much more difficult to see? Where is this movie’s color palette? Why is it so grimy? Why is every action scene exactly like the scene that precedes it?

Where did the guns come from? How is there a newspaper industry in this time and place? When is this time and where is this place? Why does this movie make rules just to break them? Why does a movie that’s 88 minutes long feel like 148 minutes?
I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for anyone—Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a terrible movie. It’s so bad, it’s kind of fun. Not this kind of fun: “Dude! Let’s get high and watch Hansel & Gretel!” It’s fun like having your small intestine pulled out your ear with tweezers is fun.

O.K. It’s not that bad. But—and I don’t mean to imply every child out there is gifted—any child who has ever lived and made up stories or an imaginary friend has done something more innovative, smart, and fun than Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Whew! That’s a whole heapin’ helpin’ of piss and vinegar I threw on poor Hansel and Gretel. Here’s the strangest thing about the whole H & G experience, though: This movie, by far, is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not even as bad as Les Miserables (no shit!).

But, my God, it’s bad. B-A-D. And what is its intended audience? It’s so incredibly bloody (not bad CGI blood, by the way) that it’s not for tweens, though they’ve seen worse. It can only possibly be for bored college students, but Hansel & Gretel can’t even be made fun of by the world’s best Mary Jane. (That’s a guess.) When it opens No. 1 at the box office, I’ll feel like an idiot. Until then, I hope Jeremy Renner’s fee bought him new dignity.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters/PG-13, 88 minutes/Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX

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