Tuesday, January 29, 2013

‘Hansel and Gretel’ is no fairy tale

Review by James Colt Harrison

The new Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton )  from director Tommy Wirkola is no fairy tale, but it’s filmed in eye-popping 3D to give it a smattering of reality. If you are familiar with the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the brother-sister team who roam Germany’s Black Forest, then you will barely recognize this hyped-up ghoulish version. Mr. Wikola and his buddy D.W. Harper have conjured up a new, horror-inspired action film that bears no resemblance to the fairy tale whatsoever. Oh, yes, there are shreds of the original story scattered throughout this plot-free mess, but you will have to look closely to find them.

Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy, what has happened to your promising career? If this “B” picture doesn’t put the nail into your coffin, then nothing will. We’re referring, of course, to the star of Hansel and Gretel, Mr. Jeremy Renner. He began with his outstanding performance in the Oscar® winning war-action film The Hurt Locker  and followed soon after with the excellent spy adventure, The Bourne Legacy. Both were “A” pictures and both were smashes at the box office. This new picture couldn’t have been done for any other reason than to make money for Renner’s bank account. We suggest he buy rental property for his future financial security. Jeremy: the distance between starring in Hollywood films and plucking chickens on a farm in your native Modesto is not far.

The word “idiotic” comes to mind when describing this film. Only 12 year-old boys who love seeing heads being lopped off at breakneck speed or bodies spewing gallons of blood into the eyes of the 3D camera will enjoy this non-stop mayhem. The film is free of any reason, and the scenes are merely tied together with one battle scene after another. The carnage is relentless. Hansel and Gretel are allegedly trying to do away with all the bad witches (led by European star Famke Jansssen) who are stealing all the village’s children. The villagers don’t know how well off they are, so they insist on getting them back.

The Brother’s Grimm, on whose fairy tale this film is loosely based, must be spinning in their graves. Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859) were born in Hanau, Germany. As they grew up they became interested in folk tales and began collecting them into two volumes, published in 1812 and 1814. They wrote down oral stories told by old villagers and called the books “Household and Nursery Tales.” The books were big hits and made the Brother’s Grimm famous in many other countries.

The Brother’s Grimm fairy tales will survive, just as they have for the past 200 years. The new version of Hansel and Gretel is destined to end up in the remainder bin of the local discount video store in a few weeks. Even then, it will be overpriced. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/ Paramount Pictures.



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