Any time you know a film has been sitting on the studio’s shelf for over year, has been given the post-production 3D conversion, and then gets released in January, it usually spells certain death. Any time the film winds up being the final product that is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, is another story. Here’s a film that’s been getting raked over the coals in release scheduling hell. Not to mention the studio had two cuts of the film screening to preview audiences, trying to decide whether to go with a safer PG-13 or go balls out with director Tommy Wirkola’s original R-rated version. Having finally seen the end product, Paramount Pictures has chosen wisely with the R-rated cut and audiences are in for a bigger treat than they could have ever imagined.
In this update of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale, young Hansel (Cedric Eich) and Gretel (Alea Sophia Boudodimos) are taken out into the forest by their father (Thomas Scharff) under the order of their mother Adrianna (Kathrin Kühnel). Alone and afraid, we all know they’re about to wind up at a witch’s candy house where they will throw her into a fire. But now the story moves forward to “many years later” as we find out that Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are all grown up and have a huge bone to pick with witches practicing the black arts. This leads them to the town of Ausburg, under the ruling thumb of Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare), whether Mayor Engleman (Rainer Bock) likes it or not.
Hansel and Gretel show up just in time to save the life of a red-haired maiden named Mina (Pihla Viitala) who Berringer is accusing of being a witch. Upon inspection she is released from being drowned in a bucket in the town square. Mina begins to follow Hansel’s every move as he and his sister investigate the disappearance of 11 children. They soon learn that a Grand Witch named Muriel (Famke Janssen) is leading a pack of fellow witches to gather the children before the Blood Moon in three nights time to use their blood for a potion that will make them invincible. Turns out, the only missing ingredient is more than a 12th child and puts Hansel and Gretel up against greater odds than they ever could have imagined. Now they must band together with their biggest fan Ben (Thomas Mann) and a troll named Edward (played by Derek Mears but voiced by Robin Atkin Downes) to stop Muriel and her coven of witches.