Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (R)
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This came out in 2013, but I didn't see it until 2015. (I watched on the night "The Last Witch Hunter" opened. The two movies are unrelated, but I thought the similar titles were reason enough to choose that particular night to watch this on DVD.) Um... I guess the movie didn't do very well critically, but it did well financially (though better internationally than domestically). Anyway, I thought it was pretty good. Not great, by any means, but... pretty good. It's set in Bavaria, but I'm not sure when it takes place; probably a few centuries ago, at least, but it definitely has a more modern sensibility. This includes the way the characters talk, the way they fight, the kinds of weapons and homemade equipment they use, and the fact that Hansel needs to give himself an injection every day because of diabetes.
Anyway, at the start of the movie, Hansel and Gretel's father takes them out into the woods in the middle of the night, and leaves them there. They have no idea why he does this, but they'll learn many years later (near the end of the movie). Meanwhile, the two children eventually start wandering through the woods, until they come upon a house made of candy, and start eating it. They get captured by the witch who lives there, but eventually they manage to kill her and escape. That's where the familiar fairy tale usually ends, but here the end of the story is just the beginning. The opening credits are a sort of motion comic montage of their subsequent exploits, in which they become famous witch hunters. Then the main part of the movie takes place when Hansel and Gretel are adults (played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton).
The mayor of a town called Augsburg hires them to find some local children who have gone missing, apparently having been kidnapped by witches. But the first thing they do is stop the town sheriff from executing a woman he's accused of being a witch, but whom Hansel and Gretel believe is innocent. Her name is Mina, and throughout the film she'll get closer to Hansel, though he seems standoffish for quite awhile. Hansel and Gretel also meet a teenager named Ben, who is a big fan of their work, and hopes to become a witch hunter himself, someday. The witch hunters soon kill a witch, though she had nothing to do with the missing children, apparently. (But the scene where they fight her demonstrates that Hansel and Gretel are fairly badass, but also that witches are very strong, in addition to their magic. However, their magic doesn't affect the siblings, a fact we'd actually seen even earlier, when they were children. And that ties in to the mystery of what happened to their parents.)
Later, they manage to capture a witch, one of a trio who were responsible for kidnapping eleven children. From her, they learn that the witches need one more child, to perform a ritual during the upcoming blood moon, a ritual that would make witches invulnerable to their greatest weakness: fire. The head witch, Muriel (Famke Janssen), and the third witch, attack Augsburg, capture the final child they need, and free the witch that Hansel and Gretel had captured. We also learn from Muriel that one other "ingredient" is needed for the ritual, but I don't want to spoil that. Anyway, the witch hunters will end up receiving assistance from Mina and Ben, as well as a troll named Edward (who worked for Muriel and the others, but clearly wasn't happy about it). On the night of the blood moon, they have to face a ton of witches from all over the world, free the children, and prevent the ritual from taking place.
And that's all I want to say about the plot. But I definitely thought it was a fun movie, with great fights, decent special effects, a fair bit of humor, and a reasonably good (if somewhat predictable) story. Oh, also, I liked the song Bundy, by Animal Alpha, which played over the closing credits.