What do you get when you take the director of Dead Snow and give him free reign over Grimm’s Fairy Tales and a liberal amount of fake blood? Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. It’s been universally panned by critics for being a gory mess of a parody but well-liked enough by moviegoers to take No. 1 at the box office. Analysts chalk up its inexplicable win to a lackluster roster of films to choose from, but they’re obviously underestimating the appeal of a black comedy full of absurdity, expletives, and excessive gore.
This film delivers campy perfection, living up to the incredibly high low expectations.
(Thank you to Paramount for the exclusive set photos!)
1. Why did I just pay money to watch a sequel to a Grimm’s Fairy Tale as told by MTV?
Short answer: Oh, right, because I don’t hate fun.
Long answer: During Oscar season, theaters are fraught with movies that require things like “thought” and “paying attention.” Summer is the time for popcorn movies. But no more! It is time to unshackle society from the movie dichotomy! What do we want? Mindless fun! When do we want it? All year round!
2. Are Hansel and Gretel going to give off a weird incest vibe?
Short answer: Shockingly, no.
Long answer: Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner managed to pull the off the hardest trick in the Hollywood book by having platonic chemistry. Painfully attractive adult actors of the opposite sex having an awesome bromance? Unpossible! Until now.
3. Where do they get all those wonderful toys?
Short answer: The prop department.
Long answer: This movie is riddled with anachronistic steampunk weapons. From an unfolding sniper rifle with exploding ammo to a charmed minigun with everything you can imagine in between, Hansel and Gretel do not wish for expedient means of witchy death. They seem to be well-paid for their work, which is good since there is probably one weaponsmith in all of fictional Germany with the necessary skills.
4. So how does witch biology work, exactly?
Short answer: This is no time to wonder about witch evolution.
Long answer: No, really. Each witch is lovingly rendered by the makeup department. Even the nameless background witches have distinct looks. However, it is shown that witches are born, not made, though “bad” witches start to look a little gnarly from convening with dark forces. What determines that? Do they take on the properties of the magic they use? Does it depend on their geographical location? How are baby witches made? It’s implied they frown upon fraternizing with humans, but there are no boy witches? Are they like praying mantises? ANSWER ME, POPCORN FLICK!
5. Was all that gore necessary?
Short answer: And they say there are no stupid questions.
Long answer: If you’re going to make a movie with over-the-top camp, you’re doing it wrong if half your SFX budget isn’t designated for gallons of fake blood. The slapstick murder of witches and townsfolk alike is reminiscent of Army of Darkness. In fact, the lack of a throwaway “This is my boomstick!” line should be one of the filmmaker’s few regrets.
6. Did Gemma Arterton just say “fucking hillbillies”?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Bless this movie and its dirty mouth. Expletives fly free, unhindered by things like historical accuracy or pearl-clutching moms.
7. Does Hansel have diabetes?
Short answer: Paging Wilford Brimley.
Long answer: The lesson here is to never gorge on candy houses you find in the woods after your parents abandoned you or you’ll gain a lifelong plot device.
8. Did the screenwriters just troll us with a troll named Edward?
Short answer: I hope so.
Long answer: In defiance of the CGI trend, Hansel and Gretel opted for old-fashioned practical effects when it came to their witch minion, controlled by no less than five puppeteers. When Edward declares his life is to serve, maybe it was just my showing, but a series of laughs at the expense of another chivalrous Edward rippled throughout the theater.