Clearly straining to distant itself from its children’s story origins, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters layers on the ultra-bloody violence, nudity, and even jarringly out-of-place F-bombs.
After a quick prologue re-imagining the familiar fairytale about two kids taken prisoner by a witch who lives in a house made of candy, the story jumps ahead many years to find Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have gone pro with their evil-slaying talents. They’re hired to dispatch the nasty creatures who stole a dozen children from a medieval village, and they come to learn a secret about their own past (a secret the screenplay telegraphs well in advance) in the process.
It’s slightly amusing to see H&G employ such anachronistic devices as a primitive record player, a hand-cranked heart defibrillator, and insulin shots (Hansel is diabetic thanks to all the candy the evil witch forced him to eat as a kid) in the course of their quest. But when the big showdown comes, and our heroes are simply able to mow down a coven of witches with a Gatling gun, where’s the magic in that?