Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters

We are all guilty of it.  There are some movies that we go see that we know are bad, but we want to see them anyway.  Movie studios take advantage of this because it allows them to be lazy and go for the easy money grab.  This is particularly true for that high-school/college crowd that will see anything that is on the screen.  Like most people, I have found that I have grown out of that mentality for the most part.  That said, I still have moments of weakness.

Sunday afternoon found the rare occurrence of Rich and I both having the afternoon free and wanting to see a movie.  Usually I do not allow Rich to pick the movie because he always manages to pick bad movies.  This time around, however, I had intentionally saved this movie for him in case we did want to see something.  So off to Premier Cinemas we went.  Warning bells started going off in my head when I saw that it was produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.  Why would an action/fantasy flick have comedians as producers?  This could be bad…

H&G is basically the story of Hansel and Gretel after they escape the candy house.  They grow up, roaming the land and killing any witch they encounter…for a fee.  What follows is a fairly predictable story: town in trouble, H&G show up, witches attack, heroes give chase, heroes lose, then heroes plan glorious final battle.  There are no real plot twists, since the ones that might have been are telegraphed way too early.  The action sequences are what you would expect for this type of movie.  The casting of Jeremy Renner and Famke Janssen was done to ensure a decent-size box office; their roles could have been played by anyone.

Right about now, you are probably asking yourself if I liked any of it?

The answer is yes, quite a bit actually.

While the movie certainly had issues with being predictable to the point that I knew everything within the first 10 minutes, it was filmed in such a way as to give some credit to the audience.  By allowing images and visual sequences run without dialog that over-explains everything, the movie assumes the audience is smart enough to follow the story, understand the justifications, and, most importantly, understand the rules of the universe that govern this story.  Once I realized that, I could see the influence of Ferrell and McKay.  Improv and sketch comedy have one goal: to tell a story.  Often that story is predictable, but it is how the actors treat it that keep it from being boring.

The other feature I liked was the pacing.  In talking to Rich after the movie, I found myself using Van Helsing as a comparison tool for this movie.  Van Helsing tried to be serious and brooding, but even worse it was way too long at 2 hours/10 minutes.  H&G is treated like a roller-coaster: a thrill ride that you want to ride, but not spend all day on.  H&G’s pacing brought it in around 90 minutes, the perfect length for a movie like this.  It also allowed the jokes to occur at times and trusted the audience to know that this was simply a thrill ride with no substance.

While available in 3D, I watched it in 2D.  I would recommend not picking the 3D option, as half of the movie is at night and could be difficult to see with the glasses on.

My advice:  Worth seeing in the afternoon or at the dollar theater; go only if you want to enjoy the roller-coaster and do not care about predictability of it…

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