I don't read reviews of films that I'm going to write about, so I had little idea what to expect from Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. I saw that Jeremy Renner was in it, and given his acting calibre I was vaguely optimistic. I shouldn't have been.
The film begins with a quick recap of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale -- father leaves them in the woods, they get lost, they find a house made of sweets, a witch lives there and kidnaps them with the intent to eat them, they kill the witch. So far so good, apart from some serious over-acting by the witch (and the fact that she survived for a disturbingly long time in the oven).
The credits were quite interesting, following the story of Hansel and Gretel as they gained a reputation for detecting and killing witches. Then we catch up with them as adults, and Hansel and Gretel have grown up to become American.
It seems trivial, I know, but the accents of Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton (which is strange, because she is British) completely destroyed any suspension of disbelief I might have had, especially since most of the other characters had a sort of "generic European" accent and references were made to Antwerp and Belsen. It even turns out that Hansel and Gretel seem to have been walking around the same area of woods for their entire lives (the important settings all appear to be within a day's walk of each other).
The basic story itself isn't completely awful, but the execution is just terrible. There are several fairly pointless characters - one is just there to be a decoy antagonist and is killed in the third or fourth scene that he's in - and an annoying lack of character development. It's difficult to care about them when their dialogue is bland and most of their time is spent being knocked out or knocking other people out.
There were so many things that could have been darkly funny in a different film - for example, Hansel has diabetes from being forcefed sweets and has to use some sort of medieval insulin syringe (which in no way is relevant in the final big battle), which could have worked. But instead it's just ridiculous, as are the grenades and machine gun that apparently were developed at whatever point in history this is meant to be.
Also there is a troll called Edward.
This film is just badly thought out, badly written, with an often inappropriate soundtrack and a main villain that isn't visually frightening or really threatening at all. It's as if someone wrote a half-arsed children's film but included too much swearing and blood.
It's probably quite good gory fun if you can turn your brain off and ignore all the inconsistencies, but if you can't, don't bother. 3/10
Watch the trailer here if you still want to see it: