It doesn’t take a genius to know that Hollywood’s running out of ideas. Lately not even children’s fairy tales are safe. Take Hansel and Gretel, the beloved Brothers Grimm fable about the brother and sister who defeat a witch when she lures them to her candy house. While everyone and their mother know that story, what they don’t know is what comes after.
“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” for all its faults, does at least have an interesting premise, if not an original one. The titular siblings’ childhood encounter spurs them into devoting their lives to witch hunting, something they become highly skilled at. When an extremely powerful witch (“X-Men’s” Famke Janssen) hatches a plot to make her kind invincible, Hansel and Gretel become entangled in a conspiracy that ties into their childhood experience.
Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are a likable duo of action heroes, and with their past roles in films such as “Mission Impossible IV,” “The Avengers” and “Prince of Persia,” they handle the action pretty well. It’s unfortunate that the action is the only redeemable thing about this film. The candy witch incident is supposed to have traumatized the siblings, but it’s never really explored. Hansel and Gretel don’t act as a brother and sister, and their dialogue makes them sound more like modern action stars than characters from Grimm’s fables.
The action is engaging, and there’s an over-the-top amount of blood and gore that’ll please the easily entertained filmgoer, but in the end this is simply another generic action movie. It’s completely harmless, and a good way to spend an hour and a half, but there’s nothing remotely memorable by the time the credits roll. “Hansel and Gretel” is entertaining, sure, but ultimately the experience is bitter sweet.