Tommy Wirkola's HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Hansel and Gretel is a train wreck of a movie. You know something awful is happening but it’s hard to look away.
The occasionally recognizable Famke Janssen
It starts auspiciously with wonderful animated credits and all the basic elements from the classic fairytale lovingly reproduced — the children abandoned in the forest, the house of candy, the evil witch burned up — but from there it morphs into a dramatic mess where it’s impossible to tell what the hell the filmmaker is really trying to accomplish.
Things I liked about the movie:
- The credits are some of the best I’ve seen and establish a devilish and playful tone.
- Photography is colorful and at times just plain lovely especially the views of the forest from above or below.
- The physical sets — the town, the rooms, the plethora of cells and other devices use for trapping and holding the many victims — are beautifully realized.
- The costumes of the heroes, the townspeople, and the many witches are excellent. Hansel and Gretel have just the right touch of that black leather S&M thing going on, you know what I mean?
- Makeup is very well done. This is some of the best “troll” I’ve ever seen and it’s mostly physical not cgi.
- The weapons — rifle and crossbow — that Hansel and Gretel use are ridiculous, far-fetched, and really cool.
Unfortunately the “meh” factors outweigh the good:
- Attempts to balance “edgy” with “playful” are awkward and unconvincing.
- There’s little character development, where the main characters appear capable of emoting but they don’t seem to have been given any real dramatic direction.
- Injection of modern foul language especially from the main characters is distracting not ha ha funny.
- Character development is nonexistent. Who are these people and why are we supposed to care about them?
- The “children in danger” angle, critical to the overall story arc, is so gingerly and delicately handled that we find yourself not really engaging with the movie’s final confrontation. It’s as if the producers are being schizophrenic about where to really push the envelope. Splatter Gore? Okay. F bombs? Okay. Minor out of place nudity? Decapitation? Okay. Kids in danger? Hmm.
- Famke Janssen whom I always enjoy watching make a splendid bad witch but spends most of her time behind beautifully designed but unrecognizable make up. I would have preferred a more subtle make up design that made better use of her native beauty and sensuality.
In summary, I have to put this movie into the “missed opportunities, hard to pay too much attention to, but often fun to watch” category.
Copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald