Oh, the fairy tale. Growing up, most of us heard these stories at our bedsides featuring the dashing prince, the fair maiden, and the evil witch. Most of what we heard back when we were small has been Disney-fied into a sweet cartoon featuring classic songs and a happy ending. But the recent trend in Hollywood has been to bring back these fairy tales not for a nice nostalgic peek at kiddie dreams, but for a money-making gritty origin tale that will draw adult audiences. Just this year we’ve had two Snow White tales hit theaters (Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman), both of which were darker re-imaginings of the classic tales. Slated for 2013 is a new look at “Jack and the Beanstalk” titled Jack the Giant Killer, and Angelina Jolie will be giving us a Sleeping Beauty re-do in 2014 (Maleficent). The next in line for a somber treatment is the tale of “Hansel and Gretel”, which has been given the violent movie mash-up name of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
I for one am kind of excited about this movie, and that probably has a lot to do with the presence of Jeremy Renner. He’s been in some of my favorite movies this summer, playing Hawkeye in The Avengers and Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy. And if these two movies prove anything, it’s that Renner can kick some major ass. And if you watch the trailer (shown below) for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, kicking ass seems like the main focus of the film. It follows Hansel (Renner) and his sister Gretel (Gemma Arterton) fifteen years after their fairy tale encounter with a child-hungry witch. Now that they’re all grown up, the siblings have a knack for destroying evil enchanters due to their love of guns and decapitation. But when several children end up missing in a town already in a storm of witch-hunting fever, things might not be as easy as cutting off a head. Check out the trailer for yourself:
Trailer for ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’
As you can see, it looks like a fun supernatural action movie. There are the inevitable comparisons between it and the huge failure of Van Helsing (starring Hugh Jackman – even Wolverine can’t save that one), but we must also consider that the movie is rated R and this trailer can only show so much. I’m still holding out hope that the gore factor will distance it from being a cheese-fest with bad CGI. It is directed by Tommy Wirkola, the guy who brought us the awesome Nazi zombie movie Dead Snow (which you should probably check out if you’re a fan of horror). So there will definitely be some more blood and guts. According to Gemma Arterton (who spoke to FilmDrunk), the movie is “very, very dark, and bloodthirsty and there’s a lot of cursing. It’s kind of got a Tarantino feel, really.” I for one am hoping that proves true, because I love a great violent dark comedy from Tarantino.
Now even though Arterton has brought up one of my favorite film makers when talking about this movie, I still don’t know if she’ll be able to pull off a bad ass Gretel on the big screen. You might recognize her from Clash of the Titans (an awful movie), Prince of Persia (another terrible movie), or Quantum of Solace (not a bad movie, but she’s hardly in it so it doesn’t really count). Maybe this will prove to be the role that changes that track record. That’s if she can get rid of her accent (listen to her say Hansel again in the trailer – she definitely doesn’t sound American). The villains of this piece are Peter Stormare, the crazy Russian dude from Armageddon and Satan from Constantine, who plays the sadistic town sheriff. Playing the big witch Muriel is Famke Janssen from X-Men fame where she played Jean Grey/Phoenix. She’s also been in the re-make of House on Haunted Hill, where she plays a sadistic wife hoping to kill her husband, and Goldeneye, where she’s a crazy assassin who kills men with her thighs. I think she can successfully convince us of her wish to kill and eat children with that kind of resume.
My guess is that all of this will add up to a half-way decent film premiering January 13th of next year. Hopefully they have found the right blend of horror and humor to make this movie work. While seeing Jeremy Renner throw punches and shoot guns again might be worth the price of admission, I don’t want to leave disappointed that they can’t make a live-action violent adult fairy tale work on the big screen. Because really, would life be worth living if we can’t exploit our childhood to make bloody good cinema?
What do you think about the trailer for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters? Will you be checking it out or do you think fairy tales should stay in our past?