Saturday, 5 April 2014

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Van Helsing was a real disappointment to me. I'd hoped it would bring the gonzo fun of The Mummy, and expected that it would at least be on a par with The Mummy Returns, but I sorely over-estimated the film in both hope and expectation.

All of which meant that I was a little wary of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, as it seemed to function on a pretty similar premise (up to and including having a funky crossbow). Fortunately, where Van Helsing didn't seem to know what to do with its premise, and suffered from the vortex of suck that was Kate Beckinsale's performance, this film knows exactly what it is doing. This is not to say that there aren't things I would quibble with. It's a little tiresome that it is Gretel who gets captured and needs to be rescued, for instance (particularly since it happens twice), but the film mostly does a good job of making both protagonists equally competent and dangerous.

The basic plot outline is pretty straightforward: kid-H&G get left in the forest by their father, find the house made of candy, and get captured by a witch. She intends to fatten them up for eating, but when the kids fight back, her spells mysteriously don't affect them, and she's the one who ends up in the oven. The movie then skips on a decade or so, to a point where the grown-up H&G are famous witch hunters, equipped with all manner of goofy weaponry. My favorite of these is the world's most over-engineered crossbow. They're called to an area where witches have stolen nearly a dozen children, and find themselves facing off with an entire coven of hags. Lots of action and violence (with a leavening of comedy) ensues.

This film definitely feels like 'Van Helsing done better'. It's not perfect, but it's a fun bit of over the top action. There's apparently a sequel on the way, and I'll be sure to take a look at that.

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