One Big Scene: 'Hansel and Gretel' Have to Deal with Trolls, Too?
One Big Scene is a weekly column dedicated to spectacular visual sequences we’re recommending you see in the theater. If you have ones you’d like us to write about, let us know in the comments section.
If zombies can invade Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Abraham Lincoln can kill vampires, then why can’t Hansel and Gretel hunt witches after surviving a deadly encounter in a candy-coated hut?
That’s the premise behind Tommy Wirkola’s fantasy/horror/fairy-tale mash up Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which borrows an Avenger (Jeremy Renner) and a Persian princess (Gemma Arterton) for a fight in the frightening forest that puts a grim spin on the vintage Brothers Grimm story. And because Paramount Pictures thinks big with its visuals, audiences will be able to see H&G on 3D IMAX over this weekend.
The format comes into focus during one particular battle that finds Gretel overmatched … until a massive assistance stomps to her aid. More on that below as we spotlight Hansel and Gretel in this week’s One Big Scene.
What critics are saying:
“Cheeky anachronisms, some rocking fight scenes, and a brief running time so that it's over before you get tired of it.”
Nell Minow, Beliefnet
Surprisingly, there are no witches in the One Big Scene of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Instead, the sequence I'm choosing begins when Gretel (Arterton) finds herself confronted by a spiteful, slightly deranged sheriff (Peter Stormare) and his thuggish pack of heavy hitters. Overmatched and overwhelmed, Gretel’s taking a beating in the woods … until a nearby troll who stands about three-stories tall decides he has seen enough and comes to her aid.
Using a tree as a baseball bat, the troll – whose name is Edward (naturally) – sends two of the sheriff’s bruisers into “left field” … or, a distant section of the forest. The way that Edward continues to dispatch the sheriff’s men – well, you need to see them rather than having me spoil the gory fun for you. But it’s in this moment, when a massive troll is exerting his brute force on hapless humans, that Hansel and Gretel remembers that it’s premise is ludicrous and the movie is supposed to be fun. Bloody, bloody fun.
The sequence, for the record, also works better in 3D IMAX, where the giant’s proportions aren’t dwarfed and his fairy-tale carnage can reach down from the screen like a boot to the face. It’s a swift, devastating sequence, and possibly the one time during H&G when I wanted to stand up and cheer.
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Sean O'ConnellFandango Bloggers
Sean is a film reviewer for The Washington Post and daily contributor to Fandango.