#521 – Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

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In my Winter/Spring Nerdy Movie Preview I had this to say about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters:

If we set our expectations low enough, though, we may find ourselves thoroughly enjoying Hawkeye killing witches and taking candy.

I went into Hansel and Gretel with extremely low expectations and I was not disappointed. I expected over-the-top action, ridiculous fight scenes, some decapitated witches and a little gore. The movie gave me all of those in a fast-paced, highly entertaining movie.

There wasn’t much substance to go along with the entertainment, but here are some thoughts I had while watching the movie.

Family

Even thought it’s an action movie about killing witches, family is the foundation upon which all that witch killing is built. Hansel and Gretel are brother and sister, pushed to a life of hunting witches after their early experience in the gingerbread house. There isn’t a lot of relational depth in the movie, but any that is there can be found between the two siblings. I have a sister and she is one of my very favorite people in the entire world. If we were forced to hunt witches together, I wouldn’t mind spending that much time together. Thankfully, though, instead of hunting witches we can just hang out and talk about Doctor Who and Harry Potter.

Stereotypes

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters challenges the statement that the only good witch is a dead witch. Without giving too much away, evil witches don’t solely populate Hansel and Gretel’s world; some witches are good and use their magic to make the world a better place. While I don’t support real witchcraft of any kind, we can learn a lesson from Hansel and Gretel. It’s dangerous to stereotype and lump people into categories based upon our preconceived notions. I’m Asian but I’m terrible at math. My wife is blonde but she isn’t stupid. Instead of shoving people into categories and boxes, we need to appreciate each person for who they are: a handcrafted work of God.

Evil

The evil in Hansel and Gretel’s world was easily spotted. Witches had cracked skin and snaggly teeth, easy to identify even on the most crowded of streets. Unfortunately we are not so lucky. Evil in our world isn’t as easily identified. Jesus warns that wolves will come dressed as sheep. Even our hearts, as Jeremiah 17 reminds us, are deceitful above all things. Evil not only moves around us but often within us. If we hope to identify the evil around and within us, we need to cling ever more tightly to our good and gracious God. Evil is cast into greater contrast the more time we spend with good. As we spend more and more time with God, he’ll begin to reveal the deeper areas of brokenness in our lives that he wants to heal. That process won’t be anything like hunting witches but it will be far more fruitful and satisfying.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was not a great movie. It was entertaining, though, and not a bad way to spend 90 minutes. It is rated R, however, and very much NSFC. So if violence and cussing are a stumbling block, you might want to give it a pass. Also, if you’re like I was and your parents won’t let you see rated R movies, give it a pass as well. No movie is worth breaking the fifth commandment, but this one is especially not worth it.

If you saw Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, what did you think? If you didn’t, please don’t judge me.

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4 Responses to “#521 – Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”

  1. For “not a great movie,” you came up with some good thoughts! I don’t plan to see the movie, but I enjoyed your review – thanks for it!

  2. Terpsichore Says:

    I also went into this movie with low expectations, and thus wasn’t disappointed either. I thought the existence of good witches turned out to be extremely plot-convenient (then again, not so surprising considering the genre).

    The violence and cussing almost amused me – not because either one is good or funny in itself, far from it, but because they seemed so anachronistic. In a Bavarian village where the news is delivered on aged newsprint with faux-Middle English, present day profanity seemed so out of place. Likewise the gymnastic feats of a modern fight scene were entertaining and cinematic but didn’t fit with everything else of that era.

    Since it’s a fast-paced action movie, there’s not much time for analysis or soul-searching, so the only inner conflict represented is that haunting question of “Why were we left in the woods as kids?” and more broadly “Where did we come from?” But I wondered a bit about what makes witches witches (are they a breed apart? The good ones are still witches and have power despite their avoidance of eating children/consorting with demons/etc), the extent of due process (sure, check that she’s a witch before you burn her – but the really powerful ones won’t appear as you expect), and the question of power (it ends with “Now that we know who we are, people should fear us” which struck me as ominous. If evil witches are evil because they do wicked things to other people for more power, how does a witch hunter keep from being evil should the people under attack fail to acknowledge their skill and knowledge?).

  3. Terpsichore Says:

    oh, also: one of the things I enjoyed the most, curiously enough, was the candy house. Again, it stuck out against the background of small-town Bavaria with its bright colors and false welcome. Years of familiarity with the fairy tale tend to reduce that stark contrast to nothing – to “What’s so odd about a candy house?” But the movie made me think “Huh. Unlike all those other witches, she had a means of luring children in; no need to kidnap them” and “Hmm, I wonder what magic you’d use to render candy a structurally sound building material while it’s chewy enough for children to eat” and “I like her decorating scheme better than the witch who deals in arterial spray.”

    It really highlights the need to be wary of promises that look too good to be true, since children aren’t the only ones to be taken in by such a thing.

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