Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D review

Updated: 27 February 2013 14:59

The Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton-starring Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters arrives in Irish cinemas in 3D today, Wednesday February 27. Tadhg Peavoy finds out if this is an adventure worth having.

The Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton-starring Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters arrives in Irish cinemas in 3D today, Wednesday February 27. Tadhg Peavoy finds out if this is an adventure worth having.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is an attempt to reboot the classic 19th-century German folk tale of two children who escape the clutches of a cannibalistic witch.

Sadly, the reboot is far from a Duracell bunny, and more of a Yellow Pack brand.

We join the story after a synopsis of the well-known Brothers Grimm tale, as in just after Hansel and Gretel have been left to fend for themselves in a German wood, where they kill a witch attempting to eat them both for dinner.

Many years later the siblings have become bounty hunters and are hired to track down and exterminate witches who are threatening the good folk of rural Germany.

When on assignment in Augsburg they meet an adversary who possesses power and evil above and beyond their normal foes.

That adversary is the witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) who has concocted an "I'm going to take over the world" idea for which she is putting the last items in place as the Blood Moon approaches.

What ensues is H&G attempting to track down Muriel while also trying to find out clues to their own childhood, which remains shrouded in mystery.

The A-list duo of Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton fill the title roles and are therefore the driving force of the film.

The script is penned and directed by Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola.

And it is with this lead duo and auteur that the main problems with the film lie.

The script just doesn't engage: there are plot holes, overly convenient happenings and scenarios, and clichés peppered throughout; from the get-go it is apparent that this is the case.

Renner and Arterton attempt to get a hold of the script and breathe life into what could actually have been two very intriguing characters. But they don't manage it.

It's hard to criticise actors when working with such an average script - as there is only so much they can work with - but suffice it to say: Jennifer Lawrence won't be succeeded by Arterton as the Academy Award-winning Best Actress for this role; Renner won't get any gongs either.

The redeeming factors for poor scripts and performances in popcorn movies is so often the CGI and action. But in this case they're not. Many of the set piece stunts are awful, and you feel as though you can almost see the strings that enable the actors to perform their martial arts moves.

There are moments when the 3D and CGI get into the sweet spot, but they quickly move out of it soon after.

The plot is very murky and fails to engage the viewer, mainly because the plan with which Muriel is to achieve her world domination is never properly addressed.

The character development is wafer thin, with Peter Stormare (Fargo, The Big Lebowski) as the local sheriff criminally underused and underdeveloped.

The film is really more of a kids' movie than an action movie, and kids' movies that transcend their target market and engage adults are some of the unexpected treats of cinema-going, but this effort won't be filed in that category.

That said, the film is being advertised and marketed to death and the estimated $50,000,000 budget recouped $19,690,956 in its opening weekend alone. To paraphrase Field of Dreams: "If you advertise it, they will come."

2/5