Imagine just how this movie was pitched. "Hey, I have an idea for a film. We'll take a beloved children's story and adapt it for modern times! It's never been done before... except in Snow White and the Huntsmen, Mirror Mirror, Red Riding Hood, etc. We'll have Jeremy Renner with rapid-fire arrow steampunk weapons, and Gemma Arterton's ass in tight leather spandex as the co-star! Then, we will spend no time on the special effects! It's a guaranteed hit!" So yes, despite all it had going for it (lol), Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is one of the most hilariously awful, woefully misguided, and truly so-bad-it's-awesome movies of 2013. This is a movie that revels in its own stupidity even more than a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from the 80s. And I have to give it points for that, because there's something pure about a movie that is this idiotic, and yet completely understands it. At least it wasn't trying to be something it wasn't (cough cough, Inception is not a thought-provoking movie, cough cough). Still, that doesn't make it good.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is, as you probably guessed, about the two fairytale siblings who, in this version, have built careers hunting down practitioners of the dark arts. This premise would probably have worked as a fake trailer, a College Humor video, or something to that effect, but as a feature-length film? Please. It's pathetic. Even the charisma of Jeremy Renner can't help it overcome just how stupid this premise is. Then we find out that Hansel and Gretel's mother was a witch, and that they are now impervious to witchcraft. And then they use gatling guns with magical spells put on them. And then... okay, if I listed all the stupid shit in this movie, I would be doing this all day. Suffice it to say that this film is fucking retarded as fuck.
Even the fight scenes are really choppily edited. It's not quite on the level of Getaway, in which there was a cut every 1/4th of a second during some sequences (yes, I counted), but it still annoyed the crap out of me. When will directors learn that shaky cam, jump cuts, and sudden zooms are not valid substitutes for actual cinematography? Never, I suppose. Also, there are scenes where Gretel will be knocked out, then Hansel will grab onto a witch's broom and be dragged along with her for a good mile or so at breakneck speed. Then the witch falls off, Hansel stands up, and Gretel is suddenly right next to him. Where the fuck did she come from? This is not the only example, trust me-- there are many, many, MANY moments like this throughout the movie. It's not just bad editing at that point, it's bad scriptwriting.
The witches themselves look pretty cool, and the weapons that are used to kill them are awesome. That's pretty much the only good things I can say about this movie, and are the only reasons why anyone liked it. Also, it accidentally vindicates witch trials by revealing that the girl who is going to be burned at the stake is actually a witch indeed later on in the movie. Sure, it's not like there are any actual witches who will take offense at this (fuck you Wiccans, you are not actual witches. You are just a bunch of bitchy teenagers on your periods who are mad that the girls on the pep squad are picking on you. Try casting a spell and see where that gets you), but it's still an uncomfortable and unfortunate turn of events.
However, the reason I'm not giving this the Anus of the Year award is because of two things: Firstly, even when he is given literally nothing to work with other than expository dialogue, Jeremy Renner is still great. It's disappointing that he would make the mistake of being in a movie like this, but hell, who cares. He's one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood, and his performance here is the one thing that kept me going throughout the lunacy of the story. And secondly, as inane as this movie was, it was still a good time. It fills a niche for audiences who want to see people use steampunk-inspired weapons to massacre hordes of devil-spawn witches. And as small as that niche may be, I give this movie credit for sticking to its guns and never giving up on its original vision... even though its original vision is retarded. It is the dumbest of dumb fun, but at least it's still fun, unlike other movies of its ilk.
Final Score for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: 2/10 stars. This is not a film out to win any awards, but it's still one of the most hilariously godawful and entertaining movies of the year. It's not quite a masterpiece of atrocious cinema like The Host or The Wicker Man (because it actually has moments of merit), but it's still a fun evening rental for when you have nothing better to do. And let me stress this: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO. Because otherwise, this will be a massive waste of your time. The only reason I checked it out is because I wanted to shit on a movie, especially one beloved by the late great JW (may coyotes devour his corpse, amen). It's not the worst movie ever made... but it's certainly up there.