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First Look at Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters

Gritty fairytale genre gets ever sillier

We're seeing a lot of fairy tale reboots around these parts. And not just animated bedtime stories, either. Full-scale, adult, gritty fairy tales. It's like The Brothers Grimm sparked a delayed chain reaction, and now all of our childhood classics are seeing the blockbuster treatment. Little Red Riding Hood just made it onscreen a while back, and I've seen trailers for at least two takes on Snow White. So far, everything looks like a rather safe affair, with celebrities and sparkly costumes and CGI. But Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters--this might be something special.

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are set to star as the two titular characters. I presume the plot follows them as they take revenge on the candy-housed witch who tempted them in childhood, then turn their witch-killing skills into a whole career. The film will be produced by Will Ferrell and directed by Tommy Wirkola of Dead Snow notoriety. When your directorial claim to fame is a B-movie horror flick about zombie Nazis, you're probably going to make a fairytale reboot unlike any other on the scene. 

If we're lucky, it'll be a rollicking frenzy of bloody camp equipped with sharp dialogue and badass plot construction. Realistically, though, turning Hansel and Gretel into a Tarantino-style film sounds tenuous at best. How gritty can a villain in a gingerbread house get? Sure, the original story came with its fair share of grit, but that was because its heroes were tricked into being eaten by a crone. It relied on the creep factor and delivered on a more subtle violence. Re-imagining Hansel and Gretel as gun-slinging avengers sounds fun but I'm not sure it's enough to build a movie from. And the tag team of Ferrell and Wirkola just seems like it would create some tonal inconsistencies.

In either case, we've gotten a first look at Arterton and Renner in their witch-hunting getups. Apparently it's easiest to kill witches while clad in black leather and wielding heavy shotguns. I'm not sure why such firepower is needed if we're just doing away with tricky old ladies, but maybe the reboot has endowed its witches with some extra special skills in order to make the hunting scenes more engaging. I am a little concerned with how much this still reminds me of Van Helsing. I guess it's the color balance, the costumes, and the poses that does it. That's not a movie anyone should be trying to emulate ever in the future of all movies.

Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters will be released on March 2nd via Paramount.