Release Date(s)2013 (June 11, 2013)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: B-
Going into Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, I expected the worst. With the trend of updating fairy tale stories and classic children’s books in a dark and moody style, I expected another meaningless movie with little to no story and/or characters worth anyone’s time.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie, while not perfect, was some of the most fun I’ve had watching a movie of its ilk in a long time. It is what it is, of course, which is a straight up B movie, but it knows exactly what it is and makes no apologies for it. If you want to shut your brain off and watch a fun and exciting action movie, then you’ll get a lot out of it too. The action itself is well-filmed and cut together very well. You’ll also find that this isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill, PG-13, “wider audience appeal” movie with clichés as clichéd as a white picket fence. It’s not that at all. There’s lots of cursing, blood & gore and a slight bit of nudity (at least in the unrated version). Most of the effects are practical as well, including Edward the Troll himself. Obvious things like witches flying and other things are enhanced with the CGI, which makes it feel more like a mid-90’s special effects movie. It came off like The Frighteners to me, especially considering the mix of tones that it has.
It also didn’t have any love interests, giant epic battles at the end, kid-friendly side characters or any of that other generic crap that gets stuck in movies like this nowadays. The acting is subpar, but I think the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously enough for it to matter. You’re supposed to be laughing along with it and enjoying it, which is what I did. I kept expecting it to take that turn into meaningless plot devices or situations, but it never did. So kudos to the director for not succumbing to Hollywood standards. Good on him, and good on this movie.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters comes to Blu-ray with a digital-to-digital transfer, so you’ll find a very healthy picture on display here. I really can’t find anything negative to say about it. Detail is strong without everything appearing too smooth, flesh tones are very natural, colors are very strong, blacks are deep and the contrast is perfect. Some may find it a bit too dark, but I never lost track of anything due to some of the darker shots. It’s perfect picture quality to me. The audio portion comes with four main options: English 5.1 TrueHD and French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital. The English track really rocks. It has a bite to it without being overbearing. It’s certainly not underused when it comes to rear speaker activity. When the action kicks in, it really goes to work, with sounds frenetically moving from speaker to speaker. LFE moments pack a real punch and ambience is certainly high. Dialogue is also perfectly balanced and the music in the film really cranks out the decibels too. Again, I can’t find anything to complain about with the A/V quality. It’s a great set-up, and one that anyone should be pleased with. In addition, there’s also an English Audio Description track, as well as subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese for those who might need them.
The extras are short and sweet, but there’s some good stuff here. First of all, the Blu-ray sports the unrated version of the movie, which I found to be superior. It’s about ten minutes longer and much bloodier than its R-rated counterpart. There are also three featurettes to check out: Reinventing Hansel & Gretel, The Witching Hours and Meet Edward the Troll. This set also sports Ultraviolet and Digital Copy options with an insert included. On the DVD, you’ll find no extra material, other than eight previews. The audio options include English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and the aforementioned English Audio Description track. The subtitle options are the same, minus the English SDH track. So there isn’t an enormous amount of material to cull through, but it’s enough if you got some enjoyment out of the film like I did. It won’t win any awards, but this film definitely gets the stamp of approval from me for being so ridiculously entertaining. Do check it out.
- Tim Salmons