Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fairytale Flipside

Never enter a house made of candy. And if you ever want to kill a witch, just set her butt on fire - these are the principles on which the heroes from the children's bedtime stories, who have now turned into hardened bounty hunters, killing witches around the world, operate. Tommy Wirkola's Hansel and Gretel - Witch Hunters, is a dark re-telling of one of the Grimm brothers' most celebrated fables.

In an inconsistent narrative which raises many a doubt about the period, the logic and reasoning behind the setting; this film makes a joke out of a great story, to say the least. Apart from a few elements like the fact that Hansel has diabetes due to excessive consumption of candy in a traumatic experience in his childhood, and a background story which builds a plot-centric past for the leads; the film brings nothing new to the table. Set in the same time period as the original tale, perhaps (it is not specified), there is no plausible explanation for the advanced arsenal that Hansel and Gretel carry (like in Van Helsing) and neither does the film elucidate as to why in the 14th century are people saying, "Whatever happens, stay cool."

The plot focuses on Hansel and Gretel, who have travelled in search of witches, destroyed many of them and saved villages, only to return to their old village, which is now plagued by witches. As the blood moon approaches, their task is to find the children kidnapped by the witch for a black magic ritual for eternal power. But this quest leads them deep into a web which will bring back some unresolved issues of the past. The dullness of the narrative snowballs gradually and you end up watching a mindless, bloody action film which fails to interest you in the fate of the characters.

With Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the lead roles, the first question that pops on to anybody's mind, nearly 20 minutes into the film, is - what are these two doing in this gratuitous film? However, Jeremy Renner's stone-cold looks and indifferent dialogue delivery seem to take your eyes off the epic ridicule that you are being subjected to. Infrequent punch-lines and irritably monotonous dialogues also put you off a lot.

Finally, the moral of this story is that a lot can go wrong from the time an idea for a film emerges to the time it is made. The shrewd storytelling of the Grimm brothers is lost in translation onto the screen and although the film is dark and spooky, it lacks the strength to build up the mystique and isn't the wicked flick everyone wanted to see.

Rating - 2.5 out of 5

Published in DNA After Hrs (Pune) on February 2, 2013

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