“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” could be a poster-movie for the exact type of gratuitously gun-heavy Hollywood flick that is being blamed for planting seeds of violence in young viewers. Bearing no resemblance to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale alluded to in its title, the R-rated movie is nothing more than an excuse for a series of barely connected fight and battle scenes than include numerous decapitations, exploding bodies, and plenty of guns being fired in the name of killing witches. Yawn. Writer-director Tommy Wirkola’s pitiful excuse for a script frequently makes continuity-breaking leaps that show no regard for the audience. Not even the least amount of disbelief suspension is maintained.
Most disconcerting is Jeremy Renner’s participation in a movie that sends his rising-star-career crashing down to a subterranean depth. Although set in medieval times, the movie is besieged with silly modern slang and weapons more befitting a 19th century spaghetti western. The Steampunk presentation is a travesty of clashing styles.
Renner and co-star Gemma Arterton play grown-up versions of the fabled kids that killed their candy-house captor, an evil witch who intended on eating them. Immune to witch spells for some mumbled reason, the bloodthirsty siblings travel between “shitty little towns” saving falsely accused witches, and killing off actual female practitioners of the dark arts.
A friendly CGI troll named Edward comes to Gretel’s rescue during a period when she is inexplicably separated from her badass brother. One-dimensional supporting efforts from Peter Stormare — as a slimy sheriff, and Famke Janssen — as the biggest and baddest witch of them all, just add insult to this awful film.
Rated R. 100 mins. (D-) (Zero Stars - out of five/no halves)