Conventional wisdom suggests that Jeremy Renner is too diminutive in stature to be taken seriously as an action film megastar, and yet, he continues to succeed despite the obvious obstacle of being relatively puny. Gemma Arteton possessed a voice that would melt polar ice caps. It is sweet, sonorous and seductive, the three S's of oratorical alliteration! Renner and Arteton work well together. They make a formidable team of witch hunters. Renner (Hansel) radiates an uncanny toughness while Arteton (Gretel) exudes beauty and brains. Hansel and Gretel are professional witch hunters for hire, and they have a new client.
Hansel and Gretel may make a formidable brother-sister team of mythical monster slayers but they seem to absorb enough punishment to break the back of even a demigod and yet they continue to push forward. The much maligned witch dedicated to practicing the dark arts is Muriel (Famke Jennsen). Muriel has a history with the two siblings that intertwines the past, the present and the near future. She is fixated on kidnapping 12 children and on utilizing the heart of a white witch in order to wreak havoc at the time of the Blood Moon. Muriel and her disciples are on the attack. Despite opposition from the bombastic sheriff (Peter Stormare) Hansel and Gretel are able to help defend their employer's city and to plot a counterattack. They are not without help however. Local witch hunter wannabe Ben (Thomas Mann) goes on a thrill ride. He is simultaneously in love with Gretel and desires nothing more than to become a witch slaying warrior. Meanwhile, Hansel finds a love interest as well in the white witch (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal). Together they make a steamy couple, at least for a little while.
Writer/director Tommy Wirkola constructed an elaborate set perfect for filming the witch hunt in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Viewers will feel dazzled by the infamous witch's candy house written about in the original Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. In fact, Wirkola's script holds true in concept and structure to the original tale. What is missing however is quality dialogue. The script is generic and it feels like a spoiled leftover that was optioned for lack of anything better. Renner and Arteton deliver the simpleton words assigned to them with a sense of joyfulness, but that does not deflect the obvious odiousness of the writing. The script is jejune and insipid at best. There is too much profanity, and the purported comedy spots fall flatter than a pancake dropped from the apex of the Empire State Building. If it were not for the flotsam of meats and body parts hurled at our faces at warp speed (and in glorious IMAX 3D), the failure of the dialogue might be unforgivable. Nevertheless, the action is interminable and there is enough gratuitous nudity and slaughter to keep even the biggest of cynics happily glued to his seat. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a movie that serves two important purposes; it proves that films based on witches are big time moneymakers, and it effortlessly entertains moviegoers. Two enthusiastic broomsticks up.
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