Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters kicks off like the age old tale that we all know - brother and sister abandoned by their father in the woods find a house made of candy, get captured by a witch who tries to fatten them up, but they end up shoving her in an oven. While this action-thriller is significantly better than last year's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, it still suffers from a lack of fun.
Now all grown up, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are professional witch hunters, hired by a town's mayor to find the coven that has snatched eleven local children. This upsets the town's head of law enforcement (Peter Stormare), who doesn't take kindly to justice being outsourced. But once everyone has been made privy to some silly business involving a lunar eclipse, and we meet the big baddie (Famke Janssen), all that's left to do is put things like plot and character development aside and just cut to the violence.
And oh, what violence! Director Tommy Wirkola - of cult hit Dead Snow - does not shy away from the red stuff; decapitations, stabbings, shootings with guns and arrows, explosions, dicings, smashings… people die in pretty much every way you can imagine here. The fight sequences between the super-powered, super-agile witches and the very human H&G are fantastically choreographed, but unfortunately there are not nearly enough of them, and whenever the movie stops to discuss the plot, everything grinds to a halt.
Acting wise, Renner and Arterton are serviceable, although they take the entire film far too seriously, and there is a creepy incest vibe to their relationship which no amount of alternative love interests can shake. Famke Janssen seems to be the only person aware of how ridiculous the movie is, hamming up her Witch-with-a-capital-B while caked out in make-up that makes her look like a burnt cigarette. Produced by Will Ferrell, this movie should have been a lot more enjoyable, but the po-faced approach to the plot will mark it as nothing more than a mild misstep in the career of everyone involved.