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The Independent Critic

Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare
Tommy Wirkola
Tommy Wirkola, D.W. Harper
Rated R
88 Mins.
Paramount Pictures

  • Unrated version of the film
  • “Reinventing Hansel & Gretel”
  • “The Witching Hours”
  • “Meet Edward the Troll”

 "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" a Grim Film Tale 
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All is quiet on the cinematic front.

As a film critic, there's nothing quite as hectic as the end of the year with awards season, top 10 lists, and all the catching up one must do to make sure every relevant film is season for the end of the movie season.

January is a welcome gift. If you're not in a top tier market, you typically find yourself having the films arrive in your town that you've already reviewed for awards season. Otherwise, January is Hollywood's dumping ground - it's the place where bad films go to die. Sure, there are always exceptions but, for the most part, January is a quiet month on the cinematic front.

It's perfect for a film critic like myself. I get caught up, get rested and end up getting a good start on the Razzie Awards season.

Welcome to Razzie awards season, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

I can understand why an actor the quality of Jeremy Renner was attracted to a project like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a film that picks up 15 years after the fairy tale's famed gingerbread house incident. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are now bounty hunters who hunt witches.

The idea has some decent ingredients. It's a familiar tale. Clever idea. Heck, it's even a decent opportunity for an action comedy in a fun period piece.

So, I understand attraction to the project.

How disappointing.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is definitely a grim fairy tale, a genre mishmash so filled with one-joke misfires and badly choreographed blood-spilling that you'll likely leave the experience either dizzy from all the chaotic CGI or hoping the film somehow makes it to midnight movie cult status.

Writer/Director Tommy Wirkola (2009's far more satisfying Dead Snow) has created one of 2013's first Razzie candidates, a film so bad it's not even good. Razzie has a special fondness for taking down critically acclaimed actors, and with Renner front-and-center here it's difficult to imagine that his performance won't be "recognized" unless 2013 ends up being a really awful year for Hollywood. If you're dumb enough to pay for an IMAX experience of this film, be prepared that the film's special effects are murky, muddled and darn near M. Night awful (as in his ridiculously bad The Last Airbender).

The film is co-produced by Will Ferrell, who likely saw the film's comic potential and is probably sitting back shaking his head and thinking "I really need to become a director."

Indeed, Will. If this is the kind of dreck you're going to produce then you should at least have the decency to show up and try to bring it to life.

There's no life to be found in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, and you get the sense that both Renner and Arterton realized the fact fairly quickly in production as their performances quickly become throwaway efforts with no life or spark to be found. The same is true for Famke Janssen, who seems completely unable to discern between decent and dreadful film projects. Janssen is saddled with playing the Great Witch, the film's baddie though the film's real baddies may be its writer, director and producers.

On a lighter note, Janssen has actually gone on record saying that her appearance in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was to pay off her mortgage.  I'm not sure how she explains the rest of her filmography.

The film ends where the fairy tale really begins, back at the scene of the crime. Unfortunately, you'll likely need your own shot of insulin if you've actually made it this far with a film that is incoherent, inconsistent and almost inconceivably bad. After a couple of well deserved Oscar nominations, Jeremy Renner needs to either fire the agent who is signing him up for his recent slew of ill-conceived projects or accept that he's headed towards the land of Cuba Gooding Jr. Hollywood irrelevance.

Wouldn't it be cool if Hollywood made a film out of Humpty Dumpty? Admit it - You can hear "The Humpty Dance" already.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic