Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters [Blu-Ray] Tommy Wirkola

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters [Blu-Ray] Tommy Wirkola
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Dead Snow director Tommy Wirkola handily managed to transmute international affection for the classic fable of two children imprisoned in a candy house by a cannibal crone into enough foreign box office receipts to label Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters a hit despite modest domestic interest. The gruesomely funny high-concept picture, which posits the brother and sister duo as legendary freelance witch hunters inspired to take up inexplicable steam-punk arms by their brush with the hag's oven, is a rather flimsy affair plot-wise, leaving little room for even minor character development between the numerous scenes of Sam Raimi-indebted, vicious cartoonish action. But what it lacks in narrative impact it partially makes up for in sheer exuberance; Wirkola, while not the sharpest writer by any measure, is clearly having a great deal of fun with a silly concept dear to his heart and a naughty, childish sense of fun pervades the entire film. With a hard R rating to play with, it's a bit of a shame that the dialogue is relatively tame, barely registering anything more severe than the odd F-bomb. This is somewhat remedied in the home video release. The extended cut included on the Blu-Ray adds some much needed gallows humour, simple yet effective profanity and a bizarre running gag about the witches continuously force-feeding kidnapped children maggots and other nasty grubs. Usually the kind of content restored to a film such as this would come in the form of ten more minutes of gore in a movie that already graphically depicts a man being quartered by a tree. Thankfully, that's not the case here — the extra material, while nowhere near a complete revelation, makes this a nastier, better version. The rest of the bonus material, much like the film, is a slightly more enjoyable than average take on typical fare. "Reinventing Hansel & Gretel" details the conception and execution of the project, with input from the director, one of the producers and, as the chronicle turns to casting, each of the actors. As the charming leads, Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner are given a wee bit more attention than their co-stars, but as head broom-rider, Famke Janssen (X-Men) is subject to her own behind-the-scenes feature on makeup and costuming, "The Witching Hour." Finally, we're treated to a look at some serious old-school behind the curtain magic, with the reveal that Edward the Troll is not a CGI creation but Derek Mears (Friday the 13th) in a badass animatronic suit. In a word: gnarly. (Paramount)