“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” is a fairy tale remix that’s Grimm in all the wrong ways, a one-joke premise that’s stretched paper-thin before the end of the first reel. Its title will remind many of last year’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” a goofy comic-book actioner in which America’s 16th president was reimagined as an axe-wielding slayer of bloodsucking ghouls. A similar concept is explored here, with the eponymous siblings growing up to become killers of witch-folk, but with less fun to be had this time round: while it was kind of amusing watching Timur Bekmambetov’s 2012 effort put a supernatural spin on US history, it’s not so amusing watching this messily directed fantasy dud half-heartedly poke fun at a 200-year-old fairy tale.
It is the telling of this well-known tale that serves as the film’s opening. You know the drill. Abandoned by their father in the middle of the deep, dark woods, young brother and sister Hansel and Gretel happen upon a cottage made of candy. Within the cottage is a wicked old witch who enslaves them, fattens them up and plans on eating them. As the witch prepares to cook Hansel alive, Gretel breaks free from her chains, boots the bitch into the oven and roasts her on an open flame — as the narration usefully points out, fire is essentially a witch’s kryptonite. (Continue Reading…)