With not much story to tell after the team sets out, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters relies on extended action scenes to move things along. The approach is tiresome. So little actually happens that the film’s 88-minute running time feels sorely stretched by the time the witches and witch hunters end up at the same home Hansel and Gretel wandered into as youngsters.

The actors look tired, too. Renner, given jokey, sarcastic dialogue early in the film, doesn’t have much to do besides look tough and aim his weapons at various ghouls. Arterton is even given even less to do. Only Famke Janssen (Taken 2) looks like she might be having a little fun as the chief villain, morphing from a deceptively peaceful looking human being into a white-faced witch with seeming superpowers. She’s a formidable foe for the gun-toting, arrow-shooting Hansel and Gretel, but we never doubt who will come out victorious at the end of the film.

Along the way, Hansel and Gretel accept assistance not only from Ben but also from a 'good witch,' Mina (Pihla Viitala). She also provides the film with a completely unnecessary love interest for Hansel, and a completely gratuitous nude scene.

If fractured fairy tales are your thing, stick to Rocky and Bullwinkle or PG-rated family fare like Hoodwinked! Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters isn’t clever, it isn’t fun and it isn’t worth any of your time or money.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; the “f”-word; various obscenities
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Hansel asks if there’s anywhere he can get a drink
  • Sex/Nudity: A young man wipes dirt from a woman’s cleavage; a man’s bare chest; a woman’s bare breast and full backside; kissing
  • Violence/Crime: Children left in the woods alone; a witch attacks the children, but they fight back and burn the witch; cut-out figures are shown hanged, burned; pervasive witch-chasing mayhem; guns and gunfire; decapitations; splattering of blood and body parts; Hansel injects himself with insulin; a witch forces a boy to shoot his own mother, and a man to shoot himself; a troll eats a boar; Gretel bites the sheriff’s face; men are squashed by a troll; a hanging and a burning of human flesh
  • Religion: A witch says there’s no use in praying, "God knows better than to come here;" a gate to hell is said to have once been opened; witches have a “dark Sabbath”

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.

Publication date: January 25, 2013