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‘Hansel & Gretel’ should have stuck with the original plot

Movie Review
By: By Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger
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“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”

Directed by Tommy Wirkola

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton and Famke Janssen

Rating: One out of five stars

One year after we learned that Abraham Lincoln had a predilection for staking vampires through the heart, now comes a new twist on Hansel & Gretel that posits them as witch hunters.

What next, Red Riding Hood: Werewolf Wrangler?

The film follows the events of the classic children’s fable, which finds a young Hansel and his sister Gretel munching on the candy exterior of a witch’s hut and becoming the main course in her dinner plans.

The two escape their imprisonment and grow up to become de facto bounty hunters of the magical beings.

The siblings come across a town where children are being abducted and they lend their services in the search for the missing kids.

Along the way, they uncover a gobbledy-gook plot that has something to do with blood moons and eating children and … well, let’s just say that it’ll be hard to concentrate on the story while fighting off tears of boredom.

Or perhaps those tears will come from unintentional laughter.

The film is filled with bad performances, terrible dialogue and cheap special effects.

If this were played with a wink, as a parody, the filmmakers might have had something special on their hands.

Instead, it’s played painfully straight with humor that is meant to serve the story instead of subvert it. The result is a collection of head-scratching decisions that don’t add anything to the narrative.

For instance, Hansel has to take a form of insulin to keep him alive because of all the candy he was forced to eat as a kid. It’s just an extraneous detail that seems like someone’s over-cooked script note.

In fact, the whole film comes off as an exercise in thinking too hard and going too far.

The title alone elicits fits of laughter. If only those behind the film cooked up something as irreverent and goofy to go with it.

 

Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.