Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

In the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel, the titular children are lost in the woods and find a house made of candy. Starving, they devour the architecture with little regard for the occupant inside. The wicked witch who lives there lures them in and tries to eat them for supper. Any homeowner would sympathize. But they overpower the old crone and throw her into her own oven and burn her to death. The End. That’s just the prologue of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. As the title implies, Hansel and Gretel have grown up to become professional ass-kicking witch killers. And for 14th century Europe, that’s pretty impressive. This film is gleefully heavy on profanity, fistfights, gruesome slaughter, and implausible weaponry like rapid-fire crossbows, shotguns, tasers, and Gatling guns. This isn’t a movie that takes itself or anything else too seriously.

1013hansel.box.jpgThe 3D sports superb clarity and depth of field with only minute instances of halos or ghosting in the darker scenes. Foreground and background delineation is excellent, particularly in the forest sequences with hovering tree branches and foliage. It also makes appropriate use of the medium (or flagrant abuse of it, depending on your perspective) with heavy amounts of carnage, shrapnel, and splatter gore coming right at you. And if one full viewing in 3D isn’t enough to satiate your gluttony for punishment, you can bounce right over to the second disc, which contains a 2D unrated cut that runs 10 minutes longer. The HD picture on the 2D disc is equally exemplary. Colors and fleshtones are vibrant and even with no image fluctuation issues to speak of. Darker contrasts betray no grainy pixilation, either. Textures and detail are sharp and vivid. Predictably, the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio also performs exceptionally well. Relentless carnage and supernatural chaos never fails to excite the senses audibly while infused with the psychotically aggressive heavy-metal score that thunders away every chance it gets.

Extras are sparse and include three short featurettes covering the making of the film and the historical context of the original tale that inspired it. DVD and Digital Copy included.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters follows closely on the heels of Snow White and the Huntsman and Red Riding Hood (2011). If this trend of adapting fairy tales into high-octane action thrillers continues, I can’t wait to see what they do with Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Blu-Ray 3D
Studio: Paramount, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Length: Theatrical: 87 mins., Unrated: 97 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen