Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)


Whatever You Do, Don’t Eat the Fuckin’ Candy

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)It had started to occur to me that I had not actually made it to the theaters this year.  There were movies out that I wanted to see, but I either never had the time or it just slipped my mind.  There’s also a chance that I was too busy making love to beautiful women all month to get to the theaters.  That one seems like it’s the most likely.  Having pleased enough beautiful women to meet most men’s lifetime quota, I finally decided to take a little me time and go to the cinemas.  I was shocked to find that the cinema I usually go to had been purchased by another theater company, but thankfully they still do movies for $5, enabling me to make a double feature out of my day.  Unfortunately, the two movies that I was able to catch in the time I had allotted were not Zero Dark Thirty.  That will have to wait.  For now, let’s talk about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, co-written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, co-written by Dante Harper, and starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Cedric Eich, Alea Sophia Boudodimos, Thomas Mann, Robin Atkin Downes, Derek Mears, Peter Stormare, and Rainer Bock.

Two children named Hansel (Cedric Eich) and Gretel (Alea Sophia Boudodimos) are abandoned by their father in the woods.  They make their way to a gingerbread house where they are captured by a witch who intends to eat them.  They manage to throw her into the oven.  But we all knew that part.  What we may not know is what happens later.  Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) grow up to be famous, witch-specializing bounty hunters.  They are hired by a town called Augsburg, and arrive just in time to prevent Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare) from wrongly executing a woman he believes to be a dark witch.  Hansel and Gretel then set about discovering the reason behind the disappearance of six boys and five girls, and sightings of a Grand Witch named Muriel (Famke Janssen).  Also, I’m not positive, but I think a Grand Witch is the female version of a Grand Wizard.

Can I paste my review for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter here and call this a day?  Truthfully, this movie was much better than AL:VH, and much less crazy of an idea, but they do seem comparable to each other in title at least.  I guess the premise of the movie isn’t nearly as crazy since it seems to be a possible future for Hansel and Gretel to grow up to hunt witches and no one in their right mind would make the leap from Abraham Lincoln to vampires.  And just as it wasn’t a difficult leap to make to have Hansel and Gretel grow up to be witch hunters, the story of this movie made no difficult jumps.  It was all pretty standard.  The story serves mostly as a way to get from one silly situation to another bloody fight until the filmmakers have blown their load and lit a cigarette in celebration of their mediocre performance.  I can relate to that.  But, even though the experience is relatively unsatisfying either way, at least with me it can be a little bit of fun.   It had a bit of laughs to it, but nothing worth watching it for.  Now I’m not sure whether I’m still talking about my penis or not…

The look and the action were altogether unimpressive.  They had a lot of blood, but nothing interesting making it come out of the bodies.  Fist fights were really average and the gun stuff was simply aim and shoot with no flare.  The troll in the movie looked pretty goofy in daylight, but it also was the only thing in the movie that had a good fight in daylight, so I’ll call the troll a “push.”  There was a broom race through the forest at the end of the movie that reminded me of the scene on Endor from Return of the Jedi.  Also, the music that opened the movie seemed like it was ripped straight out of Sherlock Holmes.

The performances were mostly okay.  No one blew me away, but they didn’t suck.  I did think of questionable things about them though.  First off, Jeremy Renner as Hansel is a diabetic?  Is that really going to be a pointless subplot?  They don’t say he’s a diabetic, but he got it from eating too much candy and he has to inject himself whenever the movie realizes that it forgot about that subplot or else his foot falls off or whatever happens.  Also, you’ll come to find pretty quickly that Jeremy Renner loves to pose with his gun resting on his shoulder.  It’s like his favorite thing.  Gemma Arterton is fine, it’s true, but she perhaps needs some more practice before playing an action character in the future.  She threw some pretty unconvincing punches.  I also thought Famke Janssen was a pretty useless addition to this movie.  She also did a fine enough job, but why make her a witch?  I’m sure there are people that are cheaper to get into your movie than Famke and, when you get her, she spends the greater majority of the movie all uglied up and witchy, completely unrecognizable.

I felt like this movie was either going to be nothing to write home about, extremely lame, or fun and awesome.  Unfortunately they chose the former.  It’s okay.  It has a super basic story, limited amount of laughs, and unimpressive action.  This movie could’ve been more fun with a little more comedy and some better choreographed action.  It’s not a bad movie, and one you wouldn’t be too bad off if you rented, but there’s not really any good reason to go to a theater for it.  Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters gets “I say burn them all!” out of “Cutting off her head tends to work.”

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Predators (2010)


After 5:00?  Damn.  Time to Go Rape Me Some Fine Bitches.

Because of Predator 2, I was extremely cautious about today’s movie.  We’ve seen many times in the past that sequels tend to decrease in quality, but I feel that cinema has also shown movies can occasionally reclaim a bit of their former glory when they’ve been removed for a few more years and no longer feel that they need to shove out a sequel while the original is still hot.  The sequels that try to capitalize on the original are usually rushed and terrible, but the other ones at least have a fighting chance.  We’ll find out what happened when they rolled the dice with Predators, written by Michael Finch, directed by Nimród Antal, and starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Derek Mears, Carey Jones, and Brian Steele.

A group of seemingly random people wake up to find themselves plummeting through the air towards an unfamiliar jungle.  MOST of their parachutes open.  When they finally come together, they introduce themselves as Royce (Adrien Brody), an ex-special ops soldier turned mercenary, Isabelle (Alice Braga), an IDF sniper, Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Yakuza enforcer, Stans (Walton Goggins), a death row inmate, Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Spetsnaz soldier, Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Revolutionary United Front officer, Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, and Edwin (Topher Grace), a doctor.  Together, they find out that they’re actually on an alien planet, where they were all chosen to sharpen the skills of a group of Predators.  Also, there’s a crazy guy named Noland (Laurence Fishburne) that lives in the jungle after having survived an earlier season.

Predators is not without its problems, but I still felt like it was able to claim a decent enough chunk of the fun you can find in the first movie.  And, to its credit, it’s far superior to Predator 2.  The story is nothing super spectacular, but it never really has been in this series.  They’re all basically “Guy(s) fights a Predator(s)”.  That’s basically what you’re getting here too.  But it really doesn’t have a lot of stupid stuff going on in it.  That’s good for the enjoyment of a movie, but disappointing when my favorite thing to do is mock the movies.  It didn’t really give me that much ammunition, at least for this paragraph.  It didn’t try very hard in the story, the dialogue was mostly pretty basic, and they only attempt to surprise the audience a few times, and a few of them actually work.  It’s an action movie, pure and simple, and the action is pretty satisfying.  It’s mostly some good gunplay and some bits of the Predators being awesome, but that’s all I really want to see.  I did appreciate that it totally hits the ground running on the action, with the very first scene being Royce plummeting through the air.  And it keeps that fun going pretty much all the way through.

The characters of the movie gave me the most ammunition for jokes, though the performances themselves gave me no complaints.  The reason I found the characters so amusing is because so many of them were just stereotypes.  Take, for example, Nikolai.  He was a Russian!  WHAT?!  How long did they have to brainstorm to come up with that name?!  Speaking of which, Hanzo!  His character was also a stereotype.  In fact, it was more than one smashed together.  He was a Yakuza, but also exhibited signs of being both a ninja and a samurai, just like every Asian person.  For the first bulk of the movie, I was actually shocked that they didn’t give him a friggin’ katana to fight with … and then they did.  Danny Trejo was also a pretty stereotypical Mexican.  I mean in real life.  His character was too, though.  The African dude with the unpronounceable name (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) seemed to basically be Joseph Kony, but much less of a monster.  Walton Goggins was a fairly basic white trash character as well.  Topher Grace’s character was the only one that had any kind of surprise to him.  Adrien Brody and Alice Braga didn’t really fit any particular stereotype for their race, but settled pretty nicely into the stereotypes of action movie characters.  Brody was a pretty typical gruff, raspy, mysterious action dude, and Braga was the tough chick, and more damsel in distress near the end of the movie.  And Laurence Fishburne was almost annoyingly over the top as his crazy character.

Predators has a pretty basic story and never really tries to be more than an action movie, but that’s not really a bad thing.  It knew what it was trying to do and it did it, and the movie was pretty fun and pretty fantastic to look at.  The characters were one-dimensional and usually stereotypical, but they were well performed.  Final verdict: the comparison between Predator and Predators is nowhere near the same as Alien and Aliens, and I’d say the original Predator is probably a little better, but Predators is pretty close, and way better than Predator 2.  Also, definitely worth a watch.  And, now that we’ve talked Aliens and Predators, I think we need to see what happens when they throw down against each other.  We’ll find out how that works out over the next two days, but for now, Predators gets “They’re bigger than us, stronger, but also heavier” out of “Looking good there, boss.”

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