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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D IMAX | Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D IMAX | Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen | Review

Stop feeling sorry for these two. They’ve stopped being victims long ago, and now roam the country as professional witch hunters, equipped with anachronistic weapons and modern speech. Street cred, indeed, but unpaved and muddy.

As a result of his childhood indulgence at the first witch’s candy house, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) requires injections to stabilize his blood sugar. That’s one of the more amusing touches in this otherwise bland shrug of a film, interrupted by blitzes of rapid action, hand to hand combat, weapon blasts and explosions. Another is missing children pictures on old-fashioned milk bottles; some things never change.

Now, about Gretel (Gemma Arterton). She’s deadly with a multi-directional crossbow, likes to head-butt her enemies, both human and otherwise, and rarely wears a gown. She has abandonment issues and wonders about her parents’ whereabouts and the reason they put her and her brother out of the house on that cold, dark night long-ago.

Since that time, Hansel and Gretel have achieved fame throughout the region as a pair of deadly, orphaned siblings, capable of dispatching witches as if they were mere bales of hay. Burning, they say, is the surest way to get rid of a witch forever.

It just so happens that mega-witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) and two equally hideous minions are stealing lots of children – an even dozen, in fact – necessary to perform a black magic ritual. The stoked-up sibs spring into action, learning about their past along the way, and picking up a few companions to aid them in their mission.

There are a few trivial subplots to discover amid the resulting carnage as well.

Jeremy Renner, a two-time Oscar nominee, seems out of place in this hack-‘em-up venture. British actress Gemma Arterton does a decent job of Americanizing her accent, but could be interchangeable with a dozen other young actresses. Famke Janssen brings the evil and the ugly in equal measure, but suffers in bad makeup like a housewife who has left her facial treatment on too long until it cracks.

Director/screenwriter Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) strings together dizzying action sequences and is not shy about squashing, popping, and chopping heads off of bodies, but the lackluster script fizzles between adrenalin-filled shots (insulin-filled shots, too, but I’ve already mentioned that).

The 3D effect ensures that all of the resulting gore and shrapnel flies effectively at your head; IMAX ensures that it’s really huge pieces. The film is stylishly shot and includes slow-motion shots (some reminiscent of The Matrix).

Dialogue sometimes pays homage to other fairy tales (like porridge being not too hot, not too cold, but just right). The liberal dose of modern expletives that the two protagonists spout is jarring and distracting, breaking whatever mood can be created by production designer Stephen Scott’s (Hellboy) atmospheric visuals. Wisecracks fall flat and do not satisfy. Non-action sequences suffer as a result, and the numerous brawl sequences find combatants punching each other in the face in any gender and combination. You’d think that the use of magic, coupled with weapons that should not exist in the Middle Ages, would preclude that sort of thing.

And you’d think a house made of candy would go down a whole lot better than it actually does.

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