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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters(2013)
Fifteen years after the gingerbread-house incident, siblings Hansel and Gretel are bounty hunters looking for revenge.
For more about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and the Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray release, see Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare, Famke Janssen, Zoë Bell, Thomas Mann
Director: Tommy Wirkola
» See full cast & crew
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray Review
Wait, they had machine guns, tasers, phonographs, and insulin back then?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 23, 2013
If you're going to kill a witch, set her ass on fire.
Oh, but there are many more ways to kill a witch, most of which are significantly more ridiculous in the abysmal Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Gatling guns, shotguns, repeating crossbows, grenades, tasers, and many more varieties of more modern weaponry -- sprinkled with some kind of anti-black witch holy water -- that's made to look on the cutting edge of antique do the deed quite nicely, and to significantly gory result. And it's really about as lame as it sounds. If a movie ever had "disaster" written all over it, it's this. Sure, don't judge a book by its cover or a movie by its poster or premise, but this a pretty clear-cut classic case of the new Hollywood, a movie that's so transparent in exactly what it's going to be that one need not even watch -- or catch a glimpse of the trailer, for that matter -- to know there's going to be bad dialogue, over-the-top action, and even a "bullet time" shot in which Hansel bends over backwards, out of the way just in the nick of time of an incoming arrow. It's the poster child for the criticism that Hollywood has completely given up on making good movies, now fully embracing the mocking "lame stream" monicker and going for broke in junk cinema-for-profit ventures. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters proves mindlessly entertaining, generally, but expect to lose a significant number of braincells and come to dislike these sorts of recycled garbage in-garbage out movies all the more after watching.
Two young children are abandoned in the woods and stumble upon a unique home made of delicious candy. Unfortunately, a snack on the wall and a knock on the door leads them into hell on Earth. A witch aims to fatten them up for food, but the children get the best of her, tossing her in her own oven and escaping her hungry clutches. They grow into locally renowned witch hunters. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have been hired by the mayor of a mid-sized village to track down several missing children. The mayor is at odds with the short-tempered local sheriff (Peter Stormare) who would rather his own posse find the children and who prefers to burn witches -- or those simply accused of witchcraft -- at the stake first and ask questions later. Hansel and Gretel soon piece together the case. The "Blood Moon" is fast approaching; it's a rare astrological event that's a powerful night for black witches, and it's only three days away. With the chase underway, Hansel and Gretel soon learn the identity of their foe, a particularly powerful witch named Muriel (Famke Janssen) who has developed a spell to make her and her minions invincible. With the fate of a dozen children -- and perhaps even the world -- at stake, Hansel and Gretel must team up with several unlikely allies to stop the witches at all costs and before the Blood Moon passes overhead.
If Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters gets anything absolutely right -- aside from some pretty high quality makeup work on the nasty, crusty witches and a good bit of gore that looks more practical realistic than it does digital phony -- it's the opening sequence that captures the terrible, grisly spirit of the fairy tale with an energy and palpable dark fear hanging over the entire thing. Unfortunately, the downfall begins with a cliché, har-har, no-thought line from Gretel once the witch is tossed in the oven, and there begins the real movie, a movie that's all about cheap thrills and trying to find the most crowd pleasing pieces in a sea of utter junk bad movie stock. The picture aims for a silly-yet-straight, humorous-but-grisly style that commands less attention than it takes to munch on popcorn and slurp up a soda. With an arsenal of anachronistic weapons, thinly developed characters on both sides, plenty of gore, and hackneyed dialogue ("the only good witch is a dead witch!"), it's easy to see that creativity abounds in the movie. Sarcasm aside, it really is difficult to sit through the movie without resorting to self-preservation techniques. It's not really the sort of movie one can take seriously, nor is it a movie that can be taken seriously. There's just way too much over-the-top junk and low-down, low-brow humor even in a movie that probably couldn't escape the clutches of modern convention even if it tried.
Indeed, it's terribly lame in every way, but at least it's in no way pretentious; it gleefully embraces its no-thought structure and all of the recycled pieces that make this one of the worst movies of the year. It's a film that succumbs to the folly of predictability with every new piece, each new character, any and every line of dialogue. Every piece plays a purpose, but those purposes are transparent in the worst way. Think the "she's not a witch" redhead from the beginning will simply fade away? Does anyone believe that the notion that "all witches display certain signs" credo will come back to haunt the heroes? Does anyone not believe that Hansel & Gretel's biggest fan (yes, they have their very own fanboy, a terribly pathetic "I wanna be a witch hunter when I grow up!" young lad who collects all things Hansel & Gretel and who falls to jelly when he finally meets them) will play a crucial role in taking down Muriel? Ah, Muriel, herself a not-so-shining example of villainy, a character with minimal motivation, little style, and no real reason to remember her once the movie's over. Oh, and don't forget her brainless Beebop and Rocksteady sidekicks. Villains always find the dumbest sidekicks. But at least all their makeup looks good. And yes, the entire movie is all about the superficial; anyone looking for even a smidgen of depth -- figurative depth, not 3D depth -- will be sorely disappointed. But then again common sense says ain't none of that here, no way, no how just from a glance at the poster or a peek at the premise. In this case, judging by its cover yields the correct analysis.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray, Video Quality
Awful though the movie may be, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters' 1080p presentation is most certainly anything but. Paramount's latest transfer is wonderful. The digital source material translates almost flawlessly to Blu-ray. There's a beautifully balanced and adequately vibrant array of colors making up the candied home exterior, and they stand out even considering the darkness behind and beyond. Inside, the palette is infused with the glow of the burning fire. As the action moves on an undisclosed number of years later, audiences are treated to a nice contrast, on one hand the vibrant green woodland foliage and on the other the cold, dreary, gray and blue-infused town exterior. Many subsequent interiors are almost impenetrably dark, but those daylight scenes really dazzle not so much in how vibrant they appear, but in how natural all the shades are. Details are just as impressive. The digital source nearly passes for film quality. It's never at all pasty, smooth, glossy, or any other negative attributable to lower end HD video. This is pristine all the way, revealing every slight costume (Hansel's leathery jacket), face (that amazing witch makeup), and background (foliage and stonework) nuance to 1080p perfection. Clarity is off the charts excellent and the image is razor-sharp throughout. Black levels are generally pristine, though perhaps a hair more absorbing than they should be in a couple of shots. Flesh tones are balanced. One shot appears to digitally crumble, albeit slightly; blocking lightly distorts a shot of Hansel in the "healing waters" at about the 55:25 mark. Otherwise, this one's fantastic.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters scares up a high quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. It finds a perfect middle ground between subtle and excess, slightly favoring the latter but not so much as to shatter eardrums or blow out speakers. The opening music proves nice and wide, yielding seamless lossless clarity and just the right touch of surround support. A positive, hefty, but not overbearing low end support gives it body and texture, solidifying the music and showcasing the track's ability to nuance even the low end. The track also provides plenty of wonderful atmospheric effects that effortlessly fill the stage and immerse the listener in the film's world. Whether woodland accents or a throng of bystanders breaking up after a standoff involving the heroes and the sheriff, the listening audience will appreciate the detailed, pinpoint effects that play all over the stage. Action scenes are suitably robust. Explosions, gunfire, and plenty of swoops and multidirectional effects litter the stage to pleasing effect. Dialogue is a strength; it commands the stage with every syllable, whether Edward's booming voice or cackling witch screeches. All around, a fine, top-tier effort from Paramount and Dolby.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This extended cut of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters features only three extras. DVD and digital copies are also included.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters plays just as expected. It's pure fantasy, over-the-top goofy, don't-take-me-seriously in action and dialogue both. It's also hugely predictable, largely unimaginative in execution, and a perfect example of everything that's wrong with modern mainstream cinema. But it's still technically well made and offers serviceable, albeit mindlessly serviceable, entertainment. Suffice it to say, the highbrow crowd should stay far away, but chances are audiences who expect only basic, time killing entertainment will find enough value to give it a watch. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is surprisingly thin on extras. However, video and audio qualities are fantastic. Rent it.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: Other Editions
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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway - Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray - June 6, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters prize pack. Each winner will receive a Blu-ray copy of the film and a themed "Lost Children" milk carton, and one grand prize winner will ...
• Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray - March 26, 2013
Paramount Home Media Distribution has officially announced that it will release Blu-ray/DVD and three-disc 3D/Blu-ray/DVD combo packs of Tommy Wirkola's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, and Peter Stormare. The two ...
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