Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters review (Blu-ray)

What we have here is a rather neat concept that's let down by pretty average execution. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a classic "what if" tale. It takes the classic Hansel and Gretel fairytale and explores what happened next, rejoining the sibblings as adults.

Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Arterton) survived their childhood ordeal and grew up to become witch hunters for hire. They're armed to the teeth, and immune to magic. And they hate witches with a passion. They've also become celebrities, with newspapers full of their amazing exploits. But they run into more trouble than they expected on their latest job. Hired by a village mayor to  investigate the disappearance of several local children (who they suspect have been taken by witches), H&G uncover a plot involving a red moon, ultimate power and a certain super-witch (Janssen).

The plot is simple, and so is the film. To be honest, it's an absolute mess, not really knowing if it wants to be a full-on, blood-filled actioner or a fairy-tale pisstake (it's certainly not a kids' film, that's for sure). Much of the dialogue is awful, and for most of the run-time. Renner looks as though he'd rather be anywhere else but on the set of this film.

On the plus side, though, it's stupidly entertaining – especially if you enjoy seeing bodies ripped apart and heads exploding, with blood spraying in all directions. The action, too, is well done, and Arterton proves to be adept at kicking arse. The humour is sparse, but there are a few nice touches – a troll named Edward for one, and Hansel being a diabetic due to his encounter with that witch when he was a child.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a one-and-a-half-star film that manages to score an extra two stars for sheer entertainment value alone, mainly thanks to all the gory bits.

EXTRAS ★★ Just three featurettes: Reinventing Hansel & Gretel (15:41); The Witching Hours (9:01); and Meet Edward The Troll (5:25).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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