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'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters' — Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Chic

R-rated film released Friday in movie theaters nationwide.

Sometimes a movie is just...bad. We can all watch it and see what they had in mind, how the pitch went, how the director and producers signed on, and talked some pretty big stars into taking part. 

And we can see the whole thing derail through to post production, delayed release, and as we watch the finished product with an ever-dwindling vestige of hope. Such is the case for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.  

Why Cinema Siren is reviewing this movie at all is a fair question. I go on record as saying there is always a chance a good movie will find its way to the multiplex in January. Not the ones that were in limited released in LA and New York in December to qualify for the Oscars….Those are the movies everyone is busying themselves with so as to clear the otherwise pristine cinematic palate for the chemically enhanced, artificially flavored junk food Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters represents.

Find it in Leesburg and buy tickets on Moviefone.

Sass-spouting siblings

Brother and sister ass-kicking team Hansel and Gretel are fighting and killing witches 15 years after kicking one into her own fire pit. They are impervious to their spells. A really bad witch (played in extreme over-the-top fashion by Famke Janssen), is capturing kids, and the sass-spouting siblings are hired to gun her down and get them back. They use clever medieval inventions like rigged wind-up tasers, semi-automatic crossbows and sawed off shotguns with hand-carved scroll inlay. Their killing equipment is almost as pretty as they are. 

This movie was meant for release almost a year ago and got pushed back from March 2, 2012. The former date suggested more optimism on the part of the studio, and the move to the January movie-ghetto was almost all we needed to know. To add a critic's preview at 8 p.m. on the Thursday before a Friday release is like unto building its coffin, nailing it shut, and burying this film deep in the cold and wintery earth.

I'm sure its stars, Oscar-nominated Jeremy Renner (of Hurt Locker), and Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia and Quantum of Solace) wish it would stay buried. The two actors are so very pretty to look at, so visually impressive and piping hot in their skin-tight leathers, one could almost just watch them run around looking like Jean Paul Gaultier's next fashion collection: "Haute Medieval Vigilante Chic."  

Designer inspiration?

They are also very good actors, and especially Renner shows here he is able to deliver any line, however ridiculous, believably. It is as if he is challenging himself to make it work, even with the worst action and dialogue, and both he and Arterton come out of this movie with their integrity. That is more magical than any of the evil witches' doings.  

Suffice to say, where's there's sulfur, there's movie hell. Gratefully, unlike some flicks, Hansel and Gretel won't be a career-killing move for either star. It is bombastically ridiculous, over the top, and innocuous enough to be vaguely entertaining, and possibly various designers' inspiration to hire them for their next ad campaign. That's all. 

I'm getting to the point as a critic, where I can't wait for this month to be over.  As hot as the actors are, this movie won't keep you warm these frozen January nights. As much as I want my readers to go to the movies, let me suggest you stay in, and watch Downton Abbey or Dr. Who. No matter how hard they try, the folks who brought you Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will not be casting a spell over the box office. 

About this column: Leslie Combemale, "Cinema Siren," is a movie lover and aficionado in Northern Virginia. Alongside Michael Barry, she owns ArtInsights, an animation and film art gallery in Reston Town Center. She has a background in film and art history. She often is invited to present at conventions such as the San Diego Comic Con, where she has been a panelist for The Art of the Hollywood Movie Poster and the Harry Potter Fandom discussion. Visit her gallery online at www.artinsights.com and see more of her reviews and interviews on www.artinsightsmagazine.com.

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