Could This Be The Worst Film of 2013?
Once upon a time, Paramount and MGM announced a grim fairy-tale reboot—Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Originally slated for a March 2012 release, the film was bumped to the dumping ground of January 11, 2013—never a good sign. The official explanation: The studios wanted to wait until after The Bourne Legacy came out so that Jeremy Renner, who plays Hansel, would be a bigger international draw. (They used the same excuse to delay Joseph-Gordon Levitt’s bike-messenger pic Premium Rush until after The Dark Knight Rises, and the film still got stuck in low gear at the box office.)
So what are the chances Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will have a happy ending? Not so good, especially now that we’ve seen the updated trailer, which looks even more ridiculous than the laughable one released last year. (Please excuse the Spanish subtitles—like I said, they’re targeting the international market.)
The potential pitfalls for this movie are plentiful. Renner’s Legacy has underperformed at the box office, limping across the $100 million finish line domestically and badly trailing its Matt Damon-led predecessors. Renner’s heart looks even less in this silly role than it did in Bourne (or Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, for that matter). Maybe I’m just projecting, but I thought I could see him blinking in Morse code, “Help! Get me back into good movies like The Hurt Locker and The Town again!”
The film’s other cast members probably won’t help its bottom line either. Gemma Arterton, aka Gretel, is best remembered are one of the most forgettable Bond girls ever, Strawberry Fields, in Quantum of Solace. True, Famke Janssen made a few X-Men movies, but her Jean Grey heyday is over. And Peter Stormare is more of a Coen Bros. cult character actor (Fargo, The Big Lebowski) than a box-office force.
The creative and commercial failure of this summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter also casts a long shadow over Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. They might want to consider changing the subtitle—and the film’s rating. Honest, Abe might’ve done a lot more business if he’d gone out with a PG-13, and the idea of an R-rated Hansel and Gretel just seems like an oxymoron.
But the biggest problem with Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters may be: It’s a freakin’ Hansel and Gretel movie! It’s one thing to do a dark take on Snow White—and fairy tales may be hot again thanks to the small-screen success of Once Upon a Time and Grimm—but turning the brother and sister who get waylaid by a witch en route to their grandmother’s house into butt-kicking bounty hunters is just ludicrous. And spending $60 million to make it? That’s the way the gingerbread house crumbles.
Do you think this Hansel and Gretel will have a storybook ending? Comment!