Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Movie Review

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Witches, they have been known for centuries. They are powerful and experts in spells and other sorts of witchcraft. There are good witches and bad witches, wherein the bad ones are the threat and needed to be stopped. Getting rid of black witches can be tough, but it seems easy for these witch hunter siblings on the next movie I will be writing about—Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.


(image source: IMDb)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is an action, fantasy, horror film directed and written by Tommy Wirkola, and produced by Will Ferrell, Beau Flynn, Adam McKay, and Kevin Messick. The film was released on the 25th of January 2013 and distributed by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. It is Rated R by the MPAA due to violence, horror, gore, nudity, and language.

The film stars Jeremy Renner (Hansel), Gemma Arterton (Gretel), Famke Janssen (Muriel), Pihla Vitala (Mina), Thomas Mann (Ben), Derek Mears (Edward), and Robin Atkin Downes (Edward's voice). It has a film budget estimating to $50 million and earned a worldwide gross of $226,349,749.

In 2013, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters won as the "Best 3D Feature - Live Action" at the 3D Creative Arts Awards, "Best Voice Over TV Spot" at the Golden Trailer Awards, and "3D Feature - Live Action" at the International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society's Creative Arts Awards. In 2014, the film received nominations in the categories "Best Makeup/Creature FX" at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, "Best Special Makeup Effects - Feature Films" at the Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards, "Favorite Horror Movie" at the People's Choice Awards, and "Best Overall Stunt by a Stunt Woman" at the World Stunt Awards.


(video source: Tommy_Wirkola via bitLanders)

One night, the young Hansel and Gretel was abandoned by their father in the middle of the forest. Since then, the siblings never saw their father and mother ever again. Wandering around the forest, the two children reached a gingerbread house where a cannibalistic witch lives. The witch caught the siblings and forced Hansel to eat sweets to become the witch's food later on, but Gretel was able to free herself and untie her brother, and the two defeated the witch by incinerating her.

After many years, Hansel and Gretel became famous witch hunters. Black magic and curses never worked on them but Hansel got diabetic due to being fed with too much sweets by the cannibalistic witch when they were young. He needed to inject himself with insulin every few hours.   

(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

Hansel and Gretel was hired by Mayor Englemann of Augsburg to rescue several missing children which were thought to be abducted by witches. Arriving at the town of Augsburg, they stopped the persecution of a lady named Mina, whom the townspeople assumed to be a witch. Mina was freed after being checked by the witch hunters but left Sheriff Berringer mad with the sibling for interrupting his plan and shaming him in front of people.

The sheriff then gathered his own men to rescue the children before Hansel and Gretel could. He sent his men into the forest during the night where they were murdered by the grand witch, Muriel. She, however, kept one man alive whom she sent back to Augsburg to relay a message before his body exploded, splattering blood and worms to the twin and the rest of people in the tavern.

(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

Along with Jackson, a mayor deputy, Hansel and Gretel set up a trap to capture a witch. They successfully captured the horned witch and she was held captive on Sheriff Berringer's office for interrogation. They found out that the witches will be gathering for a sabbath on the coming blood moon where twelve children will be sacrificed on the ritual in order for witches to become immune with fire.

(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

The siblings learned that the witches only have captured eleven children and still needed one. The horned witch, however, told that it was too late. The grand witch arrived at Augsburg and set some parts of the town on fire. A child was captured and carried by a troll named Edward while the red-haired witch battled with Hansel. The grand witch Muriel fought Gretel and successfully freed the horned witch. Gretel was knocked out and was helped by Ben, a fan of the sibling and an aspiring witch hunter. Meanwhile, Hansel was left hanging and unconscious on a tree branch after hanging on the red-haired witch's broom.

Mina saw Hansel and brought him to a spring which can heal wounds. Gretel then went out to the forest alone to search for her brother but was tracked by the sheriff. While Gretel was punished, Edward barged into the scene and killed the sheriff and his men. Edward carried Gretel and brought her to a spring and tended to her wounds, but left shortly after Gretel woke up.

Hansel and Gretel unexpectedly met at an abandoned witch lair, which turned out to be their family's home. While reminiscing the memories they had in their home, Muriel suddenly appeared in front of them and revealed their parents' true identity and reason for missing. According to the grand witch, their father was a farmer and their mother, Adrianna, was a grand white witch. Muriel told that she needed the grand white witch's heart for a ritual but she was too strong so she would rather have Gretel's heart. She told the townspeople that Adrianna was a witch and so the townspeople immediately attacked their home, burned Adrianna and hanged their father. The enraged siblings attacked Muriel causing Hansel to be stabbed and Gretel to be abducted by Muriel.   

(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

Hansel was healed by Mina and found out that she was, too, a witch. Mina then explained that she is a white witch and she could help him fight the black witches during the sabbath. With a grimoire, Mina blessed their weapons. Together with Ben, Hansel and Mina went deep in the forest to stop the sabbath and rescue Gretel and the children. Ben was left on guard near the trap they set up, while Hansel and Mina went to the rendezvous of the witches. Mina poured bullets at the witches with a gatling gun while Hansel killed the other witches in close combat. Edward freed Gretel, and with all the commotion going on, Muriel was able to escape. However, she was unable to go beyond the trap Hansel and the others had set up earlier, and Ben was able to shoot her. Searching for Muriel, the three reached the gingerbread house where Hansel and his sister encountered the cannibalistic witch. On the other hand, Gretel found Edward and revived him.

(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

Muriel took Ben as hostage but Hansel was able to set Ben free. She attacked Hansel next but was interfered by Mina, who was then killed later. Hansel shot Muriel and was sent inside the gingerbread house. Before dying, Mina asked Hansel a favor to kill Muriel. Hansel followed inside the gingerbread to eliminate the grand witch.

(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

Gretel arrived later and the siblings was able to pin down Muriel. They decapitated Muriel's head with a shovel and incinerated her just like what they did to the witch they killed when they first came to the house. Hansel and Gretel received their reward and continued being witch hunters, now with new members, Ben and Edward.   



Seriously, the close up shots of the witches were scary. I could hardly look on the screen at first but I slowly got used to it as the film rolled. The wide shots of the forest and the town was beautiful but with a tinge of eeriness. I like the camera motion at the beginning of the film where it ran above the trees then going on a wide shot to Hansel and Gretel's home while showing their father arriving. I also like their creative shot of using the water to reflect Mina and Hansel on the spring.


(video source: Mike Elizalde via Youtube)

The animation during the storytelling at the beginning of the film was beautiful. I like the medieval art style, sepia color tone, and flame visual effects used the entire run of animation. Meanwhile, they also used CGI and visual effects for the other special effects and witches' transformations. The witches flying looked very amazing as well. Did you know that they used wires to have the witches fly in their brooms? (Check these videos, Part 1 and Part 2, for the behind the scenes of the film!)

(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

Special makeup effects like prosthetic makeup has been lavishly used in the film. According to an interview with Famke Janssen, it took three hours to put on prosthetic makeup and one hour to remove it. The makeup effects looked very amazing and frightening. Children who would watch this film will definitely get nightmares after. 

On the other hand, they used an animatronic by Spectral Motion for the troll Edward. I was surprised that they actually physically made Edward and not just only a CGI. See the video above and see how smooth the movements of Edward are. He can also do various facial expressions. Wow, isn't that awesome! Mike Elizalde of Spectral Motion also prepared the effects for Muriel and other main character witches. The efforts were worth it because they got nominated at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards for "Best Makeup/Creature Fx" and at the Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards for "Best Special Makeup Effects - Feature Films". 


(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

The cast did great on their roles and I honestly thought the character Muriel was played by Gal Gadot. Famke Janssen looked similar to her in the movie. Famke didn't use any doubles for the film because of her makeup but it was alright because she had experiences with action stunts on her previous films. Meanwhile, Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton was trained for a month for their stunts and fight scenes. Jeremy did all his stunts by himself while Gemma had a double. Gemma is a beautiful actress and I love her eyes so much. Honestly, I just stare at her eyes whenever the camera focuses on her. (Here's an exclusive interview of Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner for the film!) 



I'm pretty sure we know that we should not trespass other people's properties because it's unlawful and we don't know what is there. Hansel and Gretel ate some candies of the gingerbread house and walked inside the house where they got captured by the cannibalistic witch. If they haven't gotten near the house then they could have saved themselves from trouble and Hansel wouldn't be diabetic. This teaches us not to trespass other people's properties especially unknown places to avoid harm and danger.


The film lets us know that not all witches are bad. We usually think of witches as scary, mean, and evil, but not all of them are alike. There are good ones too, and they are called white witches. A white witch is someone who uses witchcraft only for good purposes. Their goal is to heal and help people, not to bring harm. They can also fight black witches.


People usually judge or accuse someone with only rumors as their basis, just like what happened to Mina.  She could have been killed by the sheriff if the witch hunters haven't arrived. The film tells us not to be easy with judging and accusing people. It will not only harm innocent people but bring us to shame as well.


"Revenge doesn't change the past. It won't bring our parents back. But it sure as hell feels good."
- Hansel

Just like what Hansel says, revenge doesn't bring anything good for it cannot fix what occurred in the past. Sure, getting back on the person who caused you pain can make you feel better and triumphant, but always remember that hate cannot be fixed with hate. You shouldn't correct violence with violence, and a wrongdoing with another wrongdoing.


Hansel and Gretel were immune to black spells and curses making them perfect witch hunters. They used their immunity to their advantage and made witch hunting their source of living. People ask for their service to get rid of witches on their area. Hansel and Gretel shows us that we could use our special skills and strengths to our advantage, like making use of it to help people and probably even earn money from it.


(image source: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters via Facebook)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is an action-packed and gore film with a touch of comedy. I was engrossed with the action scenes and Gemma Arterton's beauty, then disgusted with the bloody murder scenes, then found myself chuckling at some point. I find it hilarious when the horned witch was trying to connect with the red-haired witch while being interrogated. Of course, the witches accidentally slamming on the trunks of the trees surely brings us a good laugh. The film's story was alright, the fight scenes were awesome, and nothing but praises for the makeup effects and animatronic. The costumes and weapons also looked very cool. For me, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is surely a film that celebrates women empowerment for it shows Gretel's and the witches' strength and terrifying powers.

Thanks for reading!

✧ Katsanslimites

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