This weekend I took some much needed time off to go see Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters with a friend.
Overall, the movie was good. It's an action packed flick which was exactly what I needed to blow off some stress. That being said, there were a few things that made me scratch my head and wonder what the writer was smoking?
It was like they were trying to set the story in the same universe as Van Helsing and with the same modern attitude of A Knight's Tale but they didn't know how to combine the two. (I plan to use this film as proof that directors shouldn't write unless their first name starts with a J.) The steampunkish weapons were very cool but since we didn't get any explanation about where/how they were acquired, how strange and wondrous they were, or introduced to their eccentric and reclusive creator, they had a tendency to be an anomaly rather than an asset.
For example, the hand-crank tazer was a great tool, especially at the end when Gretel used it as a defibrillator. However, when the woodsman used it on the horned witch I wasn't sure if that was a sign that such technology was common or if they (Hansel and Gretel) instructed him on its use. Either way, I have to flag it as bad writing. There's a reason why in every classic Bond movie there is a scene where James visits Q. It's not just so Bond can get new toys, it's to show us what each discreet gadget does and to flag it as something important to the plot. Somehow that innocuous wristwatch that can summon a flock of rabid seagulls at the press of a button is going to save his life.
Another thing that bothered me about the tech was that the second they used it in a clever way, I had to unplug my brain before it was filled with a long list of reasons why that shouldn't work. The afore mentioned incident with the tazer turned defibrillator is a key example. A gadget like that isn't capable of producing a strong enough charge to restart a heart.
I will give the writer/director credit for a couple things. He did a good job of putting a new twist a classic Grimm's Fairy Tale and on witch lore. The explanations for the physical differences between white and black witches, while simple, was very effective and it fit in well with how both are portrayed in fairy tales. I also liked how Hansel and Gretel's journey came full circle in the end. That was a nice touch.
When all is said and done, despite how much I like the film, I have to say that Hollywood has provided us with another shining example of how not to tell a story. Exciting action sequences and a spectacular music score can't hide bad writing.