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Once upon a time as children they were in deadly danger from a witch. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and his sister Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have grown up to be bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.

Review by Louise Keller:
A sorry witches' brew of tedium that burns all too slowly, despite its brisk 88 minute running time, there's no trail of enticement (or even breadcrumbs) to lead us into the forest with Hansel and Gretel. Writer and director Tommy Wirkola's re-imagining of this fairy tale carries the weight of too much self-importance to be dark and funny, which as a self-acclaimed fan of visually intense and boldly playful cinema, is no doubt his intention. With its medieval setting countered by contemporary sensibilities and expletives, the accent is on the destruction of witches every way possible, including shooting, stabbing, head butting, hand combat, punching, squishing, hitting, biting and burning to name a few, albeit the violence is depicted in comic-book fashion.

One of the problems with Wirkola's screenplay is that at no time do we engage with the characters. Perhaps the fact that the relationship between Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) is never properly addressed is in part to blame. Surprisingly, the most interesting character interactions are between Hansel and Mina (nicely played by Pihla Viitala) and Gretel and Edward the Troll (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes). After Hansel rescues Mina from an angry crowd of townsfolk eager to burn her at the stake for allegedly being a witch, the scene is set for their naked dip in the healing waters, which predictably turns into burning passion. The Troll is an ungainly Shrek-like character without the green skin, humour or charm, who rescues Gretel. An interesting addition is Ben (Thomas Mann), the young fan obsessed with Gretel, who keeps a scrapbook of all the couple's witch-hunting exploits since their days in the old gingerbread house; he dreams of being a witch hunter one day.

The plot involving the local Sheriff (Peter Stormare), missing children and the night of the Blood Moon, when all the witches will gather together seeking everlasting power is all too dull. A yawn is perhaps the best way to describe the repetitive violent demise of a string of witches. Famke Janssen plays Muriel, a most unpleasant witch with a grudge; it is disconcerting to see Janssen's attractive features morph from the ugly embodiment of the witch's form, complete with white skin, black hair, lips and veins that cover her face.

The wonderfully named Michael Bonvillain is the film's cinematographer, who makes the forest visuals sing. While Janssen is unconvincing, Renner looks as though he is bored to tears, it is Arterton who has the spark and energy to keep the story alive - albeit for an audience that has lost all interest in this misfire.

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(US, 2012)

CAST: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitale, Derek Mears, Robin Atkin Downes, Ingrid Bolso BerdalJoanna Kulig, Thomas Mann,

PRODUCER: Will Ferrell, Beau Flynn, Chris Henchy, Adam McKay, Kevin Messick

DIRECTOR: Tommy Wirkola

SCRIPT: Tommy Wirkola, Dante Harper

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Bonvillain

EDITOR: Jim Page

MUSIC: Atli Örvarsson


RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 7, 2013

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