Directed by David DeCoteau
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate’s artwork for Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft evokes more of a sense of fantasy, intrigue, and excitement than anything presented within the movie itself. This box art is what suckered me into giving the film a shot, and I suppose it’s my fault for going in cold, not bothering to watch a trailer beforehand, so I would have known there’s no castle, they don’t don any Matrix wear, Hansel doesn’t wield a blunderbuss, and that fireball Gretel has conjured in her hand even looks better than the actual fireball effects in the movie.
Credit is due to Lionsgate for successfully out-mockbustering The Asylum with this Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters coattail-riding cash grab. I bet if The Asylum had made an outright mockbuster of the film, even at its worst it would have shown more signs of life than this.
Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is a joyless borefest that doesn’t know the meaning of the words “fun” or “excitement” and boasts impoverished production values and visual effects barely on par with that of a 15-year-old episode of “Bibleman”.
Things start sloooooooow and remain that way for over an hour when Eric Roberts starts chewing some scenery while Mr. Miyagi-ing Gretel on how to combat witches – training mostly involves tossing baseballs at her that she swats away with her somewhat super reflexes. A few brief moments of Eric Roberts hamming it up is the best this abysmal affair has to offer.
Real-life siblings Booboo and Fivel Stewart (yes, those are their real names) star as Jonah and Ella, the Hansel & Gretel of the film’s title, though not until the closing moments when they learn of their true lineage and engage in their one and only scene of warring with witchcraft. Jonah has anger management problems and Ella just sounds bored. To be fair, almost everyone in this thing sounds bored. It’s like they know.
Twihards know Booboo Stewart as “Seth” in the Twilight movies. Given how much larger his sister’s role seems to be, I kind of figure he only did this to help her career out. This won’t help anyone.
The movie opens with Jonah getting into a fight on his school campus. Their wealthy adopted parents decide to send them off to some fancy private school whose campus looks suspiciously like the exact same campus from the opening.
Every time you see the same establishing shot of “Center Hall”, feel free to take a shot. There’s a drinking game to be made here given how establishing shots are reestablished quite frequently.
Their new school happens to be a haven for witches, in particular an ancient order called “The Circle”. Sort of like Yale’s “Skull & Bones”, except it consists of student body witches and warlocks that sacrifice unsuspecting students to an evil witch who in return grants them power and fortune. Or so we’re told since there’s far more tell than show in this flick.
While “The Circle” attempts to seduce Jonah into their fold, a concerned Ella engages in conversations with faculty members Eric Roberts, Vanessa Angel, and Cherrie Currie (the former lead singer of the 1970’s all-teenage girl punk band The Runaways!) about the history of the school, “The Circle”, and witches in general, as well as reading books aloud and surfing the internet to uncover yet more of the backstory. Rather than being witness to something entertaining like, you know, actually seeing her get to be a “warrior of witchcraft”, most of the movie is like watching her research a term paper on the subject and about as exciting.
After going nowhere fast for the first sixty minutes, Ella’s suddenly thrust into a training montage over in moments in order to get to the rushed finale during which a ritual is performed, a modicum of kung fu is displayed, lightning shoots from some fingertips, a couple of Dragonball orbs go flying, and a witch or two explode into Flash animation. Still nothing much of interest, but there was finally some action to break up the inertia of nearly everything that preceded it.
Well, there went another 77 minutes and $3.99 of my time and money I will never get back.
1 out of 5
1 out of 5