What?! Hansel and Gretel are all grows up and ready to take out some witches. Called to action in the town of Augsburg, it soon becomes clear that this isn’t just a case of missing children; a witch gathering is afoot and spells doom if it comes to fruition. Can Hansel and Gretel stop the witches’ dastardly plan before it’s too late? Find out in… Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters!
Why?! Cue The Flintstone’s garbage disposal pterodactyl looking into the camera and declaring, “it’s a living.” Cause that’s what this is to Hansel & Gretel. They are employed as witch hunters and that is what they will goddamn do whether or not the local sheriff approves. This motivation doesn’t change much even when the witches’ scheme grows grander and scarier. They are simply looking to rescue some kids and take out some witches. As for the antagonists of the story (witches, if you hadn’t pick up on that yet), they’re motivations are more complex. They hope to perform a ritual known as the Blood Moon Sabbath where they sacrifice 12 children, take the heart of a white witch, and create powerful magic to make witches immune to fire (and thus immune to Hansel & Gretel’s skillz). In order to do this they must lure Hansel & Gretel to town and capture Gretel, as they are aware that [SPOILER ALERT] Gretel is actually a white witch herself! Oh my GAAAWWWWD:
How?! The first half of the film plays out pretty linearly. Hansel & Gretel are there to save the day and they run around killing witches and unveiling the secrets of the Blood Moon Sabbath. Just as they realize the role they play in the plan (after they find out that their mother was a uber white witch herself and so Gretel is as well), Gretel is kidnapped and Hansel must save her. Using their mother’s extra strong white magic power he creates super weapons that make it all but futile for any witch to oppose him… which is exactly what happens. Seriously, the climax is him just systematically mowing down a hundred witches who stand no chance. In the end Hansel & Gretel both survive and walk the Earth evermore hunting witches in numerous sequels to come… wait, they didn’t make like eight sequels to this a la Fast and the Furious? Oh well.
Who?! Planchet alert! This is one of the best Planchets we’ve had in awhile. He is so Planchet that if we had watched this film before The Three Musketeers the trope would be called a Walser. Ben Walser is a Hansel & Gretel superfan who is basically just dismissed and made fun by his heroes for the entire movie. Only at the end, when Hansel needs anyone he can find to help save Gretel, does he finally allow this lame weirdo to join in the fun. He is a Planchet. A Planchet is he.
Where?! It is very clearly set in Augsburg, which I can assume is in Germany since that’s the name of one of the oldest cities in the country. If I can’t assume that then we don’t know where it is since it’s never mentioned. Pretty typical “meh” setting you sometimes get with a fantasy film. C
When?! This is a solid F. There is no indication of time other than an implication that it is probably somewhere in the 1350-1650 range (when witch hunts were the rage)… belied by the fact that Hansel & Gretel carry advanced weaponry and even play a record on a record player at one point. But that’s steampunk for you… and steampunk is an F temporal setting type of genre.
Wow, I breezed through that. Now let’s get an idea of how BMT the film was. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters? More like Hansel & Gretel: Niche Blunders! You’ll get it in a second. Hansel and Gretel are a steampunk set of buddy cops in the wild west of Grimm’s Germany … it was probably a better idea than that gives it credit for. Let’s get into it.
- The Good – There are bits and pieces throughout which are arguably the best the steampunk genre has to offer. Three Musketeers and Wild Wild West are two of the notorious examples of steampunk. Snow White and the Huntsman and Red Riding Hood are the same kind of dreary fairy tale film. This is better than all four of those. It is at times fun, Renner is very funny, the makeup and effects are great (even if the accompanying soundtrack isn’t my cup of tea), especially Edward the Troll, who I insist looks like a hulking Aaron Eckhart:Even if you don’t quite see it I was so convinced when I was watching the film that I had to look it up on IMDb. Like “wait … maybe Aaron Eckhart did play Edward the Troll” … he didn’t. Great stuff.
- The Bad – The storyline is a mess. More of a mess than you could ever really describe. The film is a comedy … and yet there is literally heads exploding left and right. There is a sex scene which is literally just there for the sake of a sex scene. There is a full blown rape scene. And if all of that doesn’t turn you off, then the third act should be enough to turn you off. It is weak.
- The BMT – Huge BMT film. Easily in the 75th percentile and only because this film is so fun to watch in a perplexed fashion, and has enough to like that you’d probably grow to like it a bit more than you feel comfortable with (like a Underworld or Resident Evil, a real cult film). It has steampunk, it has the second best Planchet in BMT history, it rocks random sex scenes, ultra violence, and a heavy metal soundtrack. It has a ton to love and is real dumb to boot. This is what I meant by niche blunders, it goes wrong in all of the best BMT ways. It makes me proud to say this albatross of a film followed through so well. I’m looking at you now 10,000 BC, it is time to deliver.
And naturally I think this is a prime Sequel territory. The problem with doing a prequel is it would be pre-combinatorial gang explosion (by the end of the first film their witch hunting posse was up to four people, I guarantee with me at the helm I’ll have that number up to twenty hilarious characters hanging around) so it is Hansel, Gretel, Planchet, and Edward the Troll globetrotting and witch hunting. I think what the series needed was a sense of the world, so let’s take them to China (dat sweet Chinese box office bucks too, oooo that is nice). I’m thinking Jackie Chan maybe as a Chinese witch hunter, and the investigation concerns a pair of ninja witches attempting to steal a McGuffin from the Forbidden City. Turns out the Imperial Guard has been systematically infiltrated by a coven and Hansel and Gretel have only mere days to stop the ninja-witches before they get the treasure and take control of the Chinese Kingdom. Hansel & Gretel 2: The Forbidden Coven. Honestly I could just dump Hansel and Gretel and go with Jackie Chan, sounds rad (natch).