With a title like "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" you pretty much know what you're going to get: campy, blood-squirting, special-effects-laden mayhem.
The question is, does the movie deliver? Yes, but that's the problem, because with that title you also should get a lot more.
For a movie that promises to unleash the ridiculousness of melding a Grimm fairy tale with the modern-day carnage of a Sylvester Stallone movie, the B-grade results should be a lot funnier, squishier and more outrageous. Instead, audiences are left with a middle-of-the road action horror story that's as straightforward as one of Gretel's titanium crossbow arrows. Even the fact it's in 3D doesn't give it any extra punch.
Hansel ("The Avengers'" Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton of "Clash of the Titans" and "Prince of Persia") have their well-known encounter with the evil witch in the gingerbread house. But what we didn't know is the encounter would later ignite their passion for eliminating witches.
They're now adults, and have been hired to rid the town of a witch (played by "X-Men's" Famke Janssen) who has kidnapped children for an upcoming ritual. If that weren't bad enough, the witch-slaying siblings also have to deal with an arrogant town sheriff (Peter Stormare as his usually snarling self) who keeps standing in their way.
In between the far-too-serious dramatic scenes, there's plenty of hand-to-hand punching and kicking as the brother and sister beat through witch after witch. Thank heavens Hermione Granger wasn't there.
Then again, that kind of surprise might have added some spice to an otherwise generic R-rated thriller. Like another genre-bending attempt, last year's "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," "Hansel & Gretel" doesn't embrace its B-grade-movie sensibilities by shocking audiences beyond what they expect. Thirty years ago, this could have been the kind of fun Sam Raimi ("The Evil Dead") would have gorged himself on, and the role of Hansel would have fit Bruce Campbell like a glove.
Instead, the "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" we're left with runs out of its magic potion far too early to let us enjoy its wicked possibilities.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hungers
Grimm fairy tale siblings join forces to become witch hunters in this B-movie horror tale. Unfortunately, it's a genre-twisting idea that doesn't crank up the outrageousness and blood to 11.
Where • Now open in theaters everywhere
Rating • R for strong fantasy horror, violence and gore, with brief sexuality/nudity and language
Running time • 88 minutes