Has anyone ever read the original stories published by the Brothers Grimm? They were actually a lot like this movie; very little character development, lots of basic plot and even more gore!
Let me say one thing here, I don’t usually have the stomach for excessive bloodshed, but here I was laughing out loud. The blood may have looked realistic but I haven’t seen maulings that fake since I saw The Wolf Man and Tropic Thunder. Seeing it in 3D made it more laughable, although I will admit to ducking every time something was “thrown” at the audience. So the gore wasn’t too terrible, but what about the rest of the movie?
Like I said earlier, there was barely any character development. In fact, I’d say once the basis for the film (the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale) was out of the way, the movie didn’t have to be about Hansel and Gretel. You could have given them completely different names and it wouldn’t affect the story at all. It’s possible that writer and director, Tommy Wirkola, was relying on the original fairy tale to do the character development for him, but fairy tales as a genre are blank slates in terms of characters. They only focus on the story and the moral, leaving character traits up to the readers’ imaginations. True, there are many hints about character throughout the movie, but I think the actors had very little to go on and it shows in their performance.
Points to Gemma Arterton (Gretel) she’s actually trying to give her character some emotional depth, but I feel that Jeremy Renner (Hansel) just played his character as he was written in the script. The only time I saw him show any kind of emotion was when he was fighting witches . Even in a scene with Arterton when she’s trying to talk about their parents, he just says his one line like an actor reading a line would say it. “We don’t talk about our parents, you know that.”
I will also give credit to Famke Janssen. She looked like she was having a lot of fun playing the wicked witch, even if her biggest purpose in this film was to provide exposition and backstory for the orphans.
The rest of the cast is pretty two-dimensional. There’s a sheriff with ambiguous motives – why doesn’t he want witch-hunters to help them hunt witches? – a fan boy with pervy intentions, a “good” witch whose function in this story is to provide Hansel with a love interest and to show him that not all witches are evil, and finally a troll named Edward. Am I the only one who found that funny?
Surprisingly, I am ok with these aspects of the film – I guess I just had really low expectations after everything I’d heard. The only thing I can’t quite get my head around are the weapons. There is no suitable explanation for why they have a taser in what I’m supposed to assume is the Middle Ages. Their weapons may make the fights scenes more awesome, but I constantly kept getting distracted by the fact that none of them make sense! And why does Hansel have insulin shots in the Middle Ages? I’ve done some research; the process wasn’t invented until 1922. If technology was really essential to this plot then don’t set it during the Witch Trials. If the Witch Trials are essential to the plot, make the technology appropriate. Or better yet, explain where they got it from. Are we just supposed to assume that Hansel and Gretel made them?
Ok, rant over. I’d say if you have an appreciation for bad movies you would probably get a kick out of this one. If not, save your money (and your sanity). On the whole, I actually enjoyed it. Every time I saw a review telling me how bad this movie was I wanted to see it even more. It lives up to its reputation, but it’s not the worst film I’ve seen.
Next week (if I can afford it): Oz: The Great and Powerful