This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Hansel & Gretel is definitely a very classic story that I’m sure just about everyone has heard of at one point or another. Doing a modern action film based on that premise could be a lot of fun. So on one hand they do succeed in adding a ton of action and it has a very Resident Evil/Underworld feel to it. Everyone’s wearing leather jackets and there is a lot of loud music as everyone just starts attacking. I always like the vibe but the film also decides to be quite over the top violent the whole time which ends up weakening it entirely. It’s a shame since otherwise I think this could have ended up being a whole lot of fun but instead it ends up being rather underwhelming.
The movie starts off with the origin story as Hansel and Gretel are abandoned by their father and a witch invites them to her house. For a long while she has them captured but eventually they destroy her and escape. They then decide to become witch hunters and are very good at it. They’ve slain so many over the years it’s almost like they are superhuman or something. Hansel’s one weakness is that he has magical diabetes so he has to take a shot every few hours or else he can’t move. One day they save an innocent civilian from being executed by a bunch of crazy townsfolk and prepare to stop the true enemy Muriel. The tough part about this is that she is one of the strongest witches in existence. Defeating her will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination.
It is hard to picture how the heroes lasted this long against the witches though because they just aren’t very impressive in a fight. Sure they have the gun and the crossbow not to mention that magical bolts don’t affect them directly (Strange isn’t it?) but that’s it. They still only have human level stats so you’d think the witches could overwhelm them with speed or manipulating the environment to choke them or something. They don’t end up doing any of that and every time they are defeated you have to shake your head a bit.
This gets even more drastic once Muriel steps in because she’s much stronger as I mentioned before. She moves so fast that it’s like she is teleporting and her energy blasts have a wide range to them. I get that she can’t use her mind control on the heroes but there are still so many ways to beat them. This is definitely an example of a movie where they made the difference between the heroes and villains way too drastic. You always gotta keep it at least a bit equal or the plot armor starts to show off too much. At least Muriel does make for a decently good villain though. She has a very concrete goal and takes steps to achieve it. Her plan wasn’t even bad so she put in a whole lot of work here.
Then we have Mina as the girl who was nearly executed. She gets a fairly big role in the film but ultimately ends up being very underwhelming. For the first half I actually just thought she was going to be a really powerful villain that the heroes had to worry about but as the film went on you started to realize that this might not be in the cards. She’s a character whose concept is a lot cooler than the execution. You got the feeling that she could end up being really cool but then the climax happens and that was it.
Likewise there is a white witch in the flashback who looks really bad. Basically like in Final Fantasy a white witch has healing powers while the dark witches use your classic attack spells. The problem is that the white witches are such pacifists that they literally refuse to lift up a hand to fight back even when they are being absolutely crushed. Not a good look if you ask me. There has to be a point where you are going to defend yourself because if you just let people murder you like that then I’m not going to like the character. It’s as simple as that.
Now there is a sidekick character named Ben who wants to help the main duo but he’s just annoying. For starters he lost any single shred of decency he might have had when he tries to take advantage of Gretel while she was asleep. I mean that’s case closed in one fell swoop. You just don’t come back from a blow like that, no shot! He mainly just exists to be the comic relief and doesn’t add anything to the film so you could absolutely cut him out and nothing would really change.
The heroes run into a troll named Edward later on who is nice enough. He helps out Gretel quite a bit which is always good and he means well. He may not be the smartest character out there but he knows enough to be of help when it counts. The guy has the physical strength needed to win almost any one on one fight and he seems like he would be a very loyal ally to have around so there’s no problem with him watching your back.
Then we have Hansel who is a good main character. He has quite the grudge against witches but who wouldn’t in his position right? The witch basically ruined his life and he will never be fully better again so after that it is really hard to forget such a moment. He can fight well which is the important part and is always looking out for Gretel. Likewise Gretel has Hansel’s back and they make a good team. She’s very confident and is always ready to press on in the fight. Their sibling dynamic worked well and isn’t one you see very often in the movies so that was fun. It’s why you could cut out Ben and just keep the dynamic duo banter intact.
Of course the film still has to squeeze in some romance which is why Mina steps in. This whole plot is very rushed and there just isn’t time for romance when you’re trying to take down witches. Lives are at stake and they also have to watch out for the corrupt townsfolk who are everywhere. So instead of pairing up and all of that maybe they should be focused on winning the fight ahead of them. That would have made way more sense at least and it could give them time to develop as friends instead. Yeah the romance should have been cut out.
As mentioned earlier the violence also could have been toned down a whole lot. Characters are being blown up and sliced and diced left and right. The film also goes for some downright gross imagery at different points as well like with Muriel forcing some guys to eat a bunch of bugs. Like did we really need to go there? Sure it shows how superior she is as a mage but cmon now. Then the film has to get edgy with all the townsfolk being brutes who go after Gretel at one point. The film is trying to be as extreme as possible at all moments and it works against the film.
Overall, Hansel & Gretel had some nice potential here. I liked some of the twists and the whole action angle was nice. I do think it could have ended up being a good film if it just showed some restraint. Instead it didn’t show any though and that’s what hurts the film a whole lot. There is no real replay value here and you’ll be cringing a whole lot. It’s time for another hard reboot to this series. You can still keep the witch hunter angle but the whole direction just needs to be changed. Hey, if you do that then you could have a winner on your side but in the meantime you should absolutely skip this one. At least the soundtrack is really good though.
I saw the movie recently and was underwhelmed. My expectations were high based on the classic story and two main stars. The stars were better than the actual movie. They were made to appear to weak against the witch. I would only give it a 4 myself.
Definitely, they fumbled this one when it should have been really good. Should have been more balanced and they could have toned down the edge in some of the scenes.