Monday, 1 July 2013


It wasn’t quite the ‘Happy Ever After’ fans had hoped for when Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters arrived on the big screen five months ago. Critics called it ‘a lurching misstep’, ‘hammy, boring, chronically unfunny’, and ‘an undernourished action-fantasy tale’. I kind of liked it. Of course, low expectations played a key role in my belated – and potentially misguided – judgement, but I found Tommy Wirkola’s (Dead Snow) English language debut grossly entertaining.

15 years after their traumatic gingerbread-house incident, siblings Hansel and Gretel have become a formidable team of leather-clad bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. That’s pretty much it as far as plot is concerned. I was expecting a fantasy adventure aimed at a family audience, so colour me happy when Hansel & Gretel turned out to be a foul-mouthed gore-fest overflowing with decapitations, exploding limbs and scenes of a head stomping nature.

The peculiar tone does take a little getting used to but Wirkola pushes the 15 certificate to its limit and embraces the red stuff at every turn. For better or worse, Janssen and Stormare take pantomime villainy to the next level, Renner (always good) is miscast as Hansel and Arterton’s Gretel gives good ass, providing Witch Hunters with a potty-mouthed femme fatale of the highest order. The plot is pretty much nonexistent, just an excuse for a series of high-paced chases, and Wirkola’s script isn’t as fresh as it ought to be, but there are times when the whole thing borders on insanity.

My advice; leave your expectations at the door and enjoy the ride because Hansel & Gretel isn’t the disaster some critics would have you believe. Wirkola’s Hollywood debut is far from perfect but follow the breadcrumbs and you will discover an action packed fantasy that takes tight leather pants, profanity and exploding limbs very seriously indeed. I’m going to climb inside an oven now, feel free to lock the door behind me. AW

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