A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a very violent, bloody, action/horror/fantasy movie about what might have happened if the children from the famous fairy tale continued to kill witches and grew up to make a living at it. Despite its origins, this definitely isn't a fairy tale for children. It's full of outrageous violence, with women beaten up in battle, children in peril, lots of blood, minor characters killed in various ways, weapons, and more. There's some brief female nudity (a naked bottom and breast) and some minor, playful innuendo. Language includes a handful of uses of "f--k" and "s--t." And there's a scene in which the hero drinks too much and is shown suffering the consequences.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After young Hansel and Gretel kill the famous witch in the famous gingerbread house, they keep dispatching witches and rescuing kidnapped children. Years later, they're grown-up, leather-clad orphans (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton), packing weapons and ready for battle. Their latest job involves no less than 12 kidnapped children and a very powerful dark witch, Muriel (Famke Janssen), who plans to use the kids in a blood ritual to obtain untold evil power. Meanwhile, Hansel meets a good witch (Pihla Viitala), and Gretel meets a helpful troll, both of whom help to shed some light on the siblings' mysterious origins and destiny.
Is it any good?
Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow), this film is very lean and speedy, focusing mainly on fighting, chasing, and the spraying and splattering of blood. It also comes with a very cool selection of costume and set designs that help set the mood. Its primary goal seems to be to entertain as quickly as possible and get the audience back out the door before the story gets old.
This economical approach is admirable in many ways, but it also raises some questions. Why couldn't we see more of the siblings' relationship? If they spent so much of their lives together in intense situations, how would they relate to each other? Other themes and characters could have used a little more depth as well, but the drawback is that these things certainly would have slowed down the movie overall. It might have made for a boring movie, and as it stands, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is anything but that.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Hansel and Gretel's outrageous violence. Does it seem necessary to the story? What effect does it have?
When Hansel says "the only good witch is a dead witch," what doesn't he know about? What does he learn over the course of the movie that changes his view? How does his statement apply to other situations or stories you may have heard?
How does this movie differ from the Grimm Brothers fairy tale? Is it any more or less violent? Why would violence be used in a children's story?
Are Hansel and Gretel role models in this movie? Why or why not?
Ben, a supporting character, collects newspaper clippings of Hansel and Gretel's killings and hopes to be a witch hunter himself someday. Why does he idolize them? What attracts him to this violence?
- In theaters: January 25, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 11, 2013
- Cast: Famke Janssen, Gemma Arterton, Jeremy Renner
- Director: Tommy Wirkola
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong fantasy horror violence and gore, brief sexuality/nudity and language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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