Movie review: gory story falls flat in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Fairytale horror: the official trailer for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, in cinemas now.
LAST year there was Snow White and the Huntsman, the year before that there was Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight-esque take on Little Red Riding Hood and now Hollywood has mined fairytales again, for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Perhaps if it were released before the others, the idea of a darker take on a childhood fable wouldn't feel so tired.
Instead this blood-soaked retelling of Hansel and Gretel, starring Jeremy Renner and British actress Gemma Arterton, ditches much of the sappy romance of other tales, but is still altogether forgettable, bar a few spurts of violence.
Renner and Arterton star as the brother and sister duo, who as children were abandoned by their parents and lured into a candy house by an evil witch.
She obviously met her doom and 15 years later, the brave kiddies have grown up to become bounty hunters, who make a living tracking and killing the crones with a Van Helsing-style arsenal of weaponry.
Set in a fantasy ye olde America, Hansel and Gretel will need all the rapid-fire crossbows and machine-guns they can get, when they're hired to find an evil witch (X-Men's Famke Janssen) who has kidnapped almost a dozen children for a dangerous spell.
A kind of horror/comedy mash-up that doesn't succeed in being scary or very funny, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is co-written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, who made the Nazi zombie film Dead Snow in 2009.
More surprising is that some of the film's producers include comedy greats such ase Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers, The Other Guys).
It means there are a few humorous moments such as the olden-day milk bottles adorned with parchment illustrations of missing children.
But the tone is overly serious instead of fun and doesn't mesh well with comedy.
While scares and suspense are also lacking, there is a bucketload of blood and violence to distract you from the predictable plot, although you will still probably guess every twist.
Witches and baddies are burnt, shot, sliced, decapitated and cursed one poor fella explodes with maggots and another has his head squashed.
Also taking a beating are the two main stars (particularly poor Gretel), but while Hansel has a red-haired damsel ready to save him, Gretel's dashing knight in shining armour is a fake-looking troll named Edward.
As much as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not a good movie, you can see loads of late teens lapping this one up, and its recent run at the top of the US box office suggests people don't mind sitting in for some mindless, gory, popcorn cinema.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (MA15+) is out in Australian cinemas now.
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Watch out witches: Gemma Atherton stars as Gretel in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.