Anyone who has been following me on Twitter, or for anyone unfortunate enough to have encountered me personally today, will know that I have spent the day in a ridiculous state of excitement about the release of a certain movie. Almost from the moment I opened my eyes this morning I was counting down the hours till the 6.50pm screening of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
I dutifully went along to the cinema this evening to see…well, mostly to see Jeremy Renner but let’s not dwell on that. I’ve been raving about going to see this movie for weeks now, so I fully expected people to ask me what may seem like a very reasonable question – ‘was it good?’
Well, it depends on your definition of good.
Whenever I go to see a silly movie – and there is no getting around the fact that this is a very silly movie – one of my favourite things is later reading all the terrible reviews. The best ones are from people who not only thought the movie was silly, but were surprised by this. It’s called Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – the clue is in the title.
It's very much a movie of the Ronseal variety. The story catches up with the now-adult siblings who have grown into leather-clad, gun-toting Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, saving the world with dubious one-liners and inexplicably American accents. They are drafted in by the mayor of a village tormented by some witches with a sinister plan of some kind but honestly by the time you get to that kind of exposition you’re probably not listening any more.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
The action is suitably bloody, if a bit repetitive, and thanks to the 3D most of it seems to be hurled in the general direction of the audience. There’s a decent amount of humour – mostly snickers as opposed to laugh out loud moments – and there’s some enjoyment to be had from the fact that the leads do seem like they’re in on the joke. No one seems to be taking themselves too seriously.
It’s not without faults (clue’s in the title, remember?) – with a premise like this there’s scope for it to be funnier, more outrageous and generally more chaotic, and I would argue it could have benefited from an 18 certificate instead of 15. It is also seriously lacking in the bad guy department – Hansel and Gretel seem so capable in their roles as hunters that Famke Janssen’s Grand Witch never feels like a match for them and they never seem to be in any real danger.
With a movie like this, it’s all in the expectations (see also: Drive Angry, Battleship, Snakes On A Plane) - before seeing this movie, I expected to see Hansel, Gretel and witches. I expected to enjoy the performances of the two leads, to laugh a little bit, to be entertained for a couple of hours and to come out of it thinking it might be cool to be a witch hunter. All boxes ticked.
Anyone expecting more than that, remember, it’s called Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.