40. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (R) - Runtime: 88 minutes
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writer: Tommy Wirkola
I had this movie higher on my list for 2012, but when the movie got bumped back into the wasteland of January releases I couldn't push this any higher than 40. Especially after the ho-hum trailer was released. But you know what? I had a really fun time at the movies with Hansel & Gretel. It's a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously and has a lot of good action scenes.
The opening scene is one we're all familiar with: Hansel and Gretel are taken into the woods by their father and left to fend for themselves. They stumble upon the witch's house and kill her. Instead of finding their way back home, they decide to strike out on their own. And as the opening credits roll past, we see their fame start to rise as they become known throughout the world as celebrity brother and sister witch hunters. They find themselves in a town where children are kidnapped frequently and soon find out that there's more at stake than just kids dying. It's not a hard plot to follow, nor is it vastly deep. But what the movie lacks in the script, it makes up for in character and setting. I really dug the steam-punk type vibe Wirkola has created. Hansel uses a collapsible shotgun and Gretel uses this crazy mechanical bow. They have machine guns and other sorts of useful weapons - and yes, this is all taking place in a medieval-type Europe!
The characters are fun, too - Gretel is the no-questions asked kind of woman - she gets shit done. She's easily the one who wears the pants in their relationship. Hansel is a bit more subdued - but he has a nice story arc that involves a good witch (yes there are good witches in this world as well). There's a bit of a revelation that you could see coming a mile away, but the movie doesn't treat it any more special than the action breaking loose every 15 minutes. And the action is fun and a blast - the pacing is just right in this movie where nothing wears out its welcome.
And I have to mention the care taken to another character - the troll. Usually most of the time these movies just CGI in the character, but Wirkola used actual puppeteers. The troll is a giant monster and his character felt straight out of an 80s fantasy flick - and this was a good thing. I'm pretty sure they used CGI for some action scenes, but for the most part, the troll was a real thing and it was awesome!
If you're looking for a deep and smart action flick, this is not it. Instead you get a fun and over-the-top fantasy action flick that feels at times like it belongs in the 80s. A fast-paced movie and some great R-rated action (and nudity!) help to make this a fun time at the theater.
Rating: See It!