Friday, 8 March 2013

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS 3D - a review by Paul Worts

"Whatever you do, don't eat the f*cking candy".

Having dispatched the wicked witch into the intended infanticide inferno, (so far so Grimm), little Hansel and Gretel grow up to be professional witch slaughterers.

As far as plots go, director Tommy ('Dead Snow') Wirkola's US debut feature isn't exactly candy-coated in complexity or character. Instead we are treated to oodles of weaponry and witch offal flying into our faces in spirited 3D. Gemma Arterton's Gretel firstly headbutts and then later on bites a lump out of the Sheriff's nose. Jeremy Renner's Hansel wisely steps back to avoid the fall-out from a vomit-exploding witch and gets to canoodle in a forest pool straight out of an advert for Timotei shampoo with a strikingly statuesque white-witch. 

Acting honours go to the giant troll 'Edward'. It says a lot about a film when the only character to illicit any real emotion or sympathy is essentially a huge animatronic head with Derek ('Jason Voorhees) Mears inside it. Then again, it shouldn't really be a surprise when the head bad-witch 'Muriel' played by Famke Janssen, admitted in a press-conference that she only took the role to pay off her mortgage!  

The action sequences are often confusingly edited to the point where it's hard to make out who's doing what to who. And the grand finale involving massed ranks of witches flying in to gather on a mountain top (resembling the Devil's Tower landing strip from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind')  is thrown away almost before it's started.  

But ultimately H&G:WH's is just pure undemanding (make that very undermanding) popcorn fun. It certainly can't be accused of outstaying its welcome, and it certainly delivers enough eye-blinking 3D fodder to just about justify wearing the specs (even though this makes the darkened forest scenes almost indiscernible.) I could have done with some genuine humour instead of lazy 'F-bomb' expletives, but I guess one only finds true Shakespearean witches in 'Macbeth'.