I was still willing to give cinema the benefit of the doubt. Then I saw Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters #despair
Look, this film is not going to get an in-depth review because it doesn’t merit one, but I do have a few pointed remarks I would like to share out of what you might call an overriding sense of colossal umbrage, or something. I happened to catch Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters on Netflix while stuck in a hotel room in Santa Cruz, not really eager to leave the joint because about thirty homies were being arrested by the entire CHP (with Swat Team) at the Velero gas-station across the street outside and twelve different varieties of Swamp People (and others from Louisiana) inhabiting the rest of the hot-button hotel TV Channels didn’t really interest me. I will say this, however:
In the annals of truly execrable fantasy/action flicks, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a particularly corn-riddled piece of sewage that rises –doubling, toiling, bubbling, and troubling– above all other festering floaters to attain an incomparable stench at the apex of the Hollywood zeitgeist’s most agonizing bowel movement. EVER. This film is the pinnacle of bowl-swirling revulsion. It is the metaphysical triumph of the Fecal over the Feasible. If anyone doubts that our society of lobotomized, nihilistic sociopaths is on the ascendency, gaze at the positive reviews for this wretched cinematic slap in the face of coherence on Amazon (and elsewhere) and doubt no longer.
To begin, the premise was actually interesting: storybook faves Hansel and Gretel survive their post-traumatic gingerbread nightmares to grow-up and become avid witch-destroyers. So many imaginative, exciting, funny, ironic, satirical, scary and even MEDIOCRE things could have been done with that basic plot-line alone, but this Simmering Stew of Stool-Samples fails to even hit the level of mediocrity.
The dialogue is ludicrously bad: it was clearly written by the kind of 21 year-old college graduates who emerge as utterly illiterate as they were before their “higher educational” years, probably armed with BA degrees in The Ramifications of Pole-Dancing for Comic-Book Design Trends or The Sociological Implications of XBox Video-Character Motivation. These pungent examples of American aptitude then hitch-hiked to LA and offered their orifices in earnest for a chance to enter the Tinsel Town Collective and display their world-class creative chops, living six-to-an-apartment until someone from the AMC zombie-show finally noticed their “work” and rescued them from having to toil for the kind of people who greenlight toxic effluvia like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Or, one could say that this ghastly piece of brain-sludge plays-out like a cheap video game from the early ’90s, designed by catatonic Japanese gamers trying to approximate an American fairy tale after reading a synopsis translated from English into Sanskrit into Chinese into Japanese and then back into English. It doesn’t have to be blamed entirely upon America.
The action sequences are toddler-level in conviction and, in contemporary film tradition, everything about this wreck is arbitrary, dimwitted, and utterly disconnected from any purposeful trajectory.
The performances are repugnant –all of them.
The CGI is half-baked. The witches look like diseased wax-figures in need of potent antibiotics from the free clinic. The story is a mangled piece of pork gristle.
And Famke Janssen … Oh, Famke Janssen has hit a Career Doom-Wall with such devastating impact and velocity that we imagine she signed all the necessary “Do Not Resuscitate” papers just before inking the contract for this epic. Yep, Dr. Tender Titties from X-Men: Wolverine’s Wet-Dream is looking awfully embarrassed as Ms. Big Baddest Sorceress in Hansel & Gretel, and deservedly so. Someone clearly needed a quick check and needed it bad. Famke sleepwalks through this travesty without even the decency to suppress her anguish at imminent home-foreclosure (or whatever caused her to take this job) and camp-it-up on camera as a sheer coping mechanism. She could have at least done that, since it’s obvious everyone is going straight down the sluice that leads directly to Hell’s Central Sewage-Treatment Plant. But who can blame Famke? One hopes she was heavily sedated during the “filming” of this barrel of sun-burned fish-guts. I watched her hit her pathetic marks during this “movie” and truly imagined the shrill, squealing fights she must’ve had with the director (Who Shall Not Be Named)–screeching and begging and probably scratching her own face with little razors in anguish:
“PLEASE, can I do this whole movie in the cheap CVS Drugstore Halloween mask so the crowds of ill-bred millennial spawn drooling into their popcorn will never know it’s ME? Please?”
Too bad for you, Famke Janssen, and too bad for those members of humanity who enjoy watching decent fantasy flicks. Our Entertainment Culture receives yet another nail in its already overloaded coffin. And there’s going to be a sequel because this work of art was so WELL-RECEIVED. A franchise is stillborn! Prepare the klieg lights, boys!
One star is given for the set-designers, who seem to have been the only people who believed they were actually getting paid to do a legitimate job in the making of this bewildering atrocity.
Otherwise, I say: “Long live the Stupids of the world!” (Because the more they multiply, the easier it becomes for the Rest of Us to recognize their physical characteristics and stay far, far away from them.)
Jonathan Kieran’s new novel is slated for release in Autumn 2014. Look for news about the book here and at Amazon.com in the coming weeks and months.
Jonathan is also the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize series of modern fairy-tales and novels. Visit Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like,” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …
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Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.
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