Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bread, Apples, Very Small Rocks, or Thoughts on Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

 Sometimes you encounter genius titles that tell the viewer exactly what to expect before they buy the tickets or even see the poster.  Movies like Night of the Living Dead (1968), Attack of The 50-Foot Woman (1958) or Sharknado (2013) don’t have to be explained; everyone will make a snap decision based upon the information supplied and for once, you can judge a book by its cover.  Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) is a welcome addition to that questionably exclusive club, more fun than it has any right to be and written and directed by Tommy Wirkola from DeadSnow/ Død snø (2009). 
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a steampunk fairytale inhabits that same anachronistic parallel universe as Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) and The Man With The Iron Fists (2012), where magic exists alongside with the tools to fight it, including Gatling guns and  fancy, non-historically accurate rapid firing double-crossbows.
In a style we can now refer to as Tim Burton-esque, candy gothic whimsy matched by unapologetic hard R-rated gore, Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton from Byzantium (2012) play the grown-up witch hunters in black leather, with 21st century snark and unexplained American accents even though they’re somewhere in old timey, olde worlde Bavaria.
There’s a plague of witches snatching children because as you know, witches eat kids, and the radiant Famke Janssen portrays Muriel, the Grand Witch.  The witches have a unique look with scaly tree bark skin and the CGI witchcraft magic is effective without being distracting.  A horror comedy featuring buckets of blood, exploding people and the odd random decapitation by troll head stomp, it’s an updated Hammer Movie with Matrix-y (1999) fight scenes in the forest.
The original Brothers Grimm tales were brutal, and Tommy Wirkola has no problem depicting violence against children onscreen.  The movie’s not for kids, and in fact you could argue that it’s for single people who hate kids (like witches), or at least have no interest in raising any.  The witches are a welcome alternative to the quirky and eccentric Harry Potter universe, and the movie is everything Blade Trinity (2004) and Van Helsing (2004) aspired to be; a supernatural action movie that effectively balances horror and humor.
Famke Janssen, who you know as Jean Grey in X-men (2000) also played Bond Girl and KGB agent Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye (1995).  Hansel and Gretel also features an unrecognizable Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Armistice from Westworld Season 1, as Horned Witch and Zoë Bell from Death Proof (2008) and The Hateful Eight (2015) as Tall Witch.  Zoë Bell gets strung upside down but not before she gets to show off her stellar martial arts skills.  In fact, all of the witches in this movie seem to have studied at the same dojo that the vampires from Buffy the Vampire Slayer attended. 

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).