Monday, March 11, 2013

Grimm Fandango (Hansel & Gretel: Warriors Of Witchcraft)

As I begin to write this, once again I have missed my Sunday deadline. The combination of suffering the effects from going out last night (which I rarely do these days), going to the cinema to see "Lincoln" (great performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, but visually dull), "Wreck-It Ralph" (very enjoyable movie, coming from someone who likes computer games), along with watching terrible but fun action movies at home (which included subjecting my friend to watching "Wrong Side Of Town", which I wrote about on here), has me at a disadvantage.

In saying that, there was one other film that I watched in the cinema this week: "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters". Before I went to see this in the cinema, I noticed one film popping up on Netflix, which was made last year, which had a very similar title. I thought this was the work of "The Asylum", but as it turned out, they have their own version. So I was curious as to what this one was about, especially after I saw its namesake in the cinema.


What did I think of "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters"?

The film was alright, with some entertaining gory bits and a laugh here and there. Also the 3D looked fine, but then again the only films that seem bother with 3D technology are questionable horror films. However, this film makes the same mistake "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" made; it takes itself way too seriously. It takes away any sense of fun that the title of the movie is suggesting. Which doesn't help when Jeremy Renner takes the role seriously and Gemma Arterton, who I find very pretty to look at ever since "Three And Out" (among other things in that movie.....ahem), is almost channeling Kate Beckinsale in terms of bland, wooden acting while looking hot.

The only person who looked like they were having fun was Famke Janssen, the supporting character named "Ben" is just pointless and annoying, and the biggest problem I had with the movie was the aimless direction it has. It didn't know if it wanted to be a lighthearted action fantasy flick (like the godawful "Van Helsing", which I also wrote about last year) or a violent, twisted take on an old tale. I didn't know if it was catering for the teenage crowd or for blood thirsty adults. It's like watching "Van Helsing", but with added blood and the "F" word littered here and there. Sure it could do with those things to make it interesting, but given the context of the rest of the film, it just seems out of place.

So in short, it was watchable, but if it decided on which direction to go with from the start, it could have been a lot better (going the adult orientated route), or it could have been bland (see "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".....not literally, of course). With that, I was sure it was going to look like a masterpiece when compared to the ingeniously titled: "Hansel & Gretel: Warriors Of Witchcraft").

83 minutes later.....

Wow, I am actually shocked that these films can be released nowadays. I swear this looks like some film student's first year project. But further research shows that director David DeCoteau has a few titles to his name, albeit the majority of it I've never heard of. But for someone who has experience behind a camera, this is even an insult to amateur film work.

While the film takes place on school grounds, courtesy of the reused establishing shots of the campus (examples including two people talking by a tree, the signposts, side of buildings, people walking where one of them is wearing a t-shirt with "Still Undefeated" written on the back), the rest of the movie doesn't look like it was shot in a school. Hell, even classes which have five students in total take place outdoors.

Infact, the "campus" looks like the exterior of a day care centre. I even came up with a theory that this was filmed in a rehab clinic, where part of the extracurricular activities is doing film projects. Which could be the only logical explanation as to how Eric Roberts ended up in the film, as he could have been in rehab also. Maybe he doesn't get a lot of work nowadays, but for a guy who has starred in "The Dark Knight" and "The Expendables", I find it hard to believe that he needed the money that badly.

The production values are almost one step above "Birdemic", in that it has better "special effects" and has "star names". Well, if you call Eric Roberts and the hot babe in "Kingpin" (Vanessa Angel) as "star names". Other than that, the rest of the cast are a bunch of unknowns, with one of them playing a student/jock/witch that's taller than the rest of the cast. Oh, and the male lead is played by someone called Booboo.
No, not that Boo-Boo.
The plot feels like it came from a rejected script for an episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", with some minor changes here and there. After Booboo gets into a fight in school (judging by the establishing shot of two people talking and another one with a tree), he and his twin sister are transferred to an exclusive boarding school, which shows the exterior of the day care centre.....and the same two shots of the people talking and the tree.

Already in the first few minutes, the editing dismisses all continuity. Whenever the film takes place indoors, half the time I'm not sure where these people are supposed to be, thanks to the confusing campus setting and confusing stock footage. For example, when Booboo's sister finds out about her birth parents from looking by the fireplace, I don't know where this fireplace is supposed to be. The stock footage shows an apartment complex with a car park, but is that supposed to be part of the school? Is it the foster parents' place, even though at the beginning it looks like they're in a suburban neighbourhood? Is it Eric Roberts' office? His home? It's never explained.

This guy was in "The Dark Knight" for crying out loud!
There is not much to the plot itself, where the twins don't fit in with the rich kids, Booboo gets in a fight, then starts hanging with the rich kids, who turn out to be witches who kidnap other students, so their master can take their souls. Booboo's sister suspects something is going on, confronts her brother, they argue, and she learns about their true origin. And about an hour later, Eric Roberts reveals himself to Booboo's sister as a witch slayer who fought alongside her dead parents, and that the oh-so-nice guidance counsellor (Vanessa Angel) is actually, quelle surprise, the head of the coven of witches.

It is at this point of the movie, where Eric Roberts trains Booboo's sister to be a slayer by throwing baseballs at her for a minute or so, when the movie tries to cram as much backstory and character motivation as it can before the end. But even then this raises more questions, one of which was whether Vanessa Angel knew her co-worker had a secret identity as a witch slayer. I admit I didn't pay attention to her speech in the final confrontation with the twins, as I was ready to fall asleep with 20 minutes to go before the end. But hey, if the film isn't making an effort, then why should I? And that was before the anticlimactic finale of that scene.

Since I can't find any images of the film, here's an
image of Vanessa Angel and Erika Eleniak in Baywatch.
Oh, and what has this got to do with Hansel & Gretel? Well halfway through the movie Vanessa Angel (while disguised as a kind, caring guidance counsellor who holds her sessions in a gazebo) tells Booboo's sister that the stories of the Brothers Grimm have an element of truth, including the tale of Hansel & Gretel. Not to mention the name of the school roughly translates as "gingerbread house" or something. These scenes and information seem out of place and quite confusing at first, until the very end where the twins find their original birth certificates. And what were their original names? Take a wild guess.....


This film is just a complete waste of time. The editing is atrocious, the story is wafer thin, and the acting from the amateur cast is so bad I pity them instead of finding any form of humour from their performances. The outdoor scenes make no sense, from the coven meetings in broad daylight, to the aforementioned classroom setting. In the "Chillerama" short "I Was A Teenage Werebear", the outdoor scenes where they're supposed to be indoors at least had a comic intention to them. Here it just comes off as bizarre and stupidly cheap.

In my last article, I had a theory that "Quarantine 2" was its own separate movie until it was stamped with the "Quarantine" name. For this movie, I bet the original idea for the movie was a mixture of "Buffy" and "Twilight", until someone saw a trailer for "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters". So to get people interested in this cheap "Buffy" knock-off, they attempted to write in the Hansel & Gretel storyline without any thought, and hoped for the best. Hell, out of all the Hansel & Gretel movies out there, I bet the film below makes more sense than "H&G: Warriors Of Witchcraft".

"From the producer of Twilight"?
I guess those films can drive people to drugs.

And on a final note.....

In my opening paragraph, I mentioned that I was watching dumb action movies during the weekend. One of them was a film called "The Octagon", which I was tempted to write about this week, instead of "H&G: Warriors Of Witchcraft". It was also the first time I watched a film where the leading man was the action hero/living internet meme himself, Chuck Norris.

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