Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Thoughts on, and a place to discuss, the plot details we can't reveal in our review.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters isn’t the kind of movie that requires or rewards thought, but it’s hard not to walk out of it with questions, and to wonder whether it was hacked down to the all-important under-90-minutes mark from a longer cut that made more sense. So many plot points are introduced, only to be instantly dropped. For instance, Jeremy Renner’s “sugar sickness” from being force-fed witch-candy as a boy. (A sort of magical diabetes, apparently.) He gets fatally ill out of nowhere for a couple of seconds, gives himself a shot, and later gets sick again in combat for another couple of seconds, but that scenario is instantly resolved. The whole thing adds less than a minute of drama-free content to the film, and contributes nothing. Was there once more there?
Similarly, there’s the whole plot involving Edward the troll. It’s possible to mentally sketch out a history for him that would explain why he feels he has to serve the witches, why he rebels when he sees Arterton being bullied and abused, and why he decides to help her fight the witches in the end, but he’s a plot device rather than a character here, no matter how many times the camera pauses to look into his soulful eyes. Ditto Thomas Mann, whose plot arc amounts to: “I want to be like you guys!” “Meh.” [Hourlong pause.] “Want to come with us and fight witches?” “Yes!” “Okay, now sit over here for the rest of the film.”
And then there’s Famke Janssen’s three seconds of backstory. And the fact that she wants to use Gemma Arterton’s heart as a spell component because she’s a “grand white witch,” which—apparently Arterton is a witch because her mom was or something? Even though she never uses any magical abilities herself, and becoming a witch is apparently a conscious choice. And there’s poor Pihla Viitala as the love interest with no personality who dies basically so the film can have a hero body count, which it instantly forgets. This movie feels like all the story was pared out of a two-hour film that actually made sense, and that spaced out the action scenes enough that they didn’t feel so repetitive and dull.