I love fairy tales.
I love classic fairy tales. In particular, though I mean no disrespect to Hans Christian Anderson, I have a special affection for the tales of the Brothers Grimm. Seriously, how can you not love their name? It's like a promise of truth in advertising, at least until the stories get homogenized and made into something safer for children. "Safer," by the way, means clean of potential nightmares. Sorry I tend to think nightmares serve a purpose and so do fairy tales. Like fables, the best of them offer lessons and warnings. Mind you, sometimes the warning can be a little vague: In the case of Hansel & Gretel it's either a warning not to take candy from strangers or just possibly not to let your dad marry a woman who thinks killing kids is a good way to go about avoiding being too hungry.
That said, I took one look at the trailer for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and chuckled. (And if you follow the link it's for the Red Band version of the trailer. That means language and violence not appropriate for children. Seriously.) My sister, a bit of a purist, did not agree. That's okay. I prefer people have their own minds and opinions. Listen, if you expect anything remotely like the original story, don't waste your time. There have been other versions that were far more true to the source material. What I wanted, what I got, was something entirely different. I wanted what the trailer offered: a tongue-in-cheel action adventure flick with creepy witches, a grown up set of siblings with a passion for killing those very witches and a hefty arsenal of steampunk inspired weapons to help them meet their goals.
Anyone whose read one of my reviews knows I hate giving away the important stuff. The surprises are for the people who see the movie, not for me to ruin in advance. That's why there are spoiler alerts and that's why I attempt to offer spoiler free commentaries. I will tell you this much: The original tale of Hansel and Gretel is taken care of in roughly the first three minutes of the movie, and I loved to watch it.
And from there the story gets more fun. It's over the top. No two ways about that. The laws of physics are not merely dented, they are warped into new shapes. That's okay, I didn't care. If I want reality, I'll catch a drama. This is a fusion of fairy tales, steampunk, comedy, horror and extreme action. It may not be high brow art, but damn I did enjoy it. I watched the unrated version on blu-ray. It has excessive language (multiple f-bombs), excessive gore, excessive and delightful violence and copious quantities of fun, in addition to witches, trolls, and my first ever encounter with Steampunk Brass Knuckles.
Highly recommended for a night of reckless, violent fun with a surprisingly good story. Also, Gemma Arterton is just darned sexy-cute and Jeremy Renner is a delight, too. And Famke Jansen as a witch? Wow.