Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray 3D Review

I am not going to say that I ‘missed’ the opportunity to catch Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters in theaters, this past January, but I will say that hearing the title puts a smile on my face.  Is that enough to warrant a viewing of the film?  Perhaps, and I will get to that, but just let it be known that one does not walk into Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters expecting a film that is any less silly that its title suggests.  That said, just because a movie plants a tongue firmly in its own cheek, it does not mean that it should automatically get a pass.  Plenty of movies walk the line between being both ridiculous and confident in their production, in order to elicit solid entertainment.  So does Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters work as a piece of throwaway entertainment?  Read on to learn more about my thoughts on the film, along with how this 3D Blu-ray package stacks up.


Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters is a spin on the classic Grimm fairy tale.  Following the setup, which is the familiar story of Hansel and Gretel, as children, being left alone in the woods by their father, and then captured by a witch in a candy house, only to defeat her by throwing the witch into her own oven, the film then takes on its central conceit.  Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are now hunt witches for a living (they are basically supernatural bounty hunters) and are at their latest stop in this film.  They arrive at a village that has had eleven children go missing, with a realization that an upcoming Blood Moon will signal some kind of crazy ceremony with a coven of witches to do something really evil.  This coven is led by the evil dark witch, Muriel (Famke Janssen), whom Hansel and Gretel will have to stop, if they want to get paid.

There is a very specific reason why this film fails overall – it’s not very funny.  I would say it is fun in bursts, as the action is confidently shot, given the budget, which appears to be low.  Both Renner and Arterton seem to be pretty game in a film that really does not require much from them.  The film itself has some ideas that are clever in moments.  All of these aspects still do not add up to a film that you would say was a funny action-comedy, which hurts it.  And it’s not just that the jokes fall flat, it’s that the film largely depends on some of them landing, in order to keep you on board with it.


The film is less about trying to satirize anything and more of a weird action-fantasy hybrid, which happens to have a sense of humor.  The characters provide performances that range from over-the-top to quite serious, which does not help the tone overall, but at least no one was trying to do a specific accent to ‘fit with the times’.  Still, despite having some promise, the film devolves into being a hodgepodge of ideas, which never quite come together into something more enjoyable.

Scenes involving the brother-sister duo versus witches are kind of fun.  They essentially become that scene in Return of the Jedi, where Luke fights off a speeder bike, while on the ground.  A witch emerges, Renner and Arterton try to take it down, the witch hops on her broomstick and races away, fights ensue.  Action gets more complex later on, but it mostly takes place in the woods of Germany, where this film was made.  As stated, this stuff is basically fine.  Not amazing action, but it delivers on the title in a way that is fitting.  I almost wish the film looked worse, just so it could have more of a so bad it’s funny vibe, but apparently the studio was very invested in making this film work and look visually splendid.

There really is not a whole lot more to go over.  Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not terrible, necessarily, it’s just nothing special at all.  It has some nice action, but I could not have cared less about the story being told, given that the characters are fairly bland and the humor is mostly a failed attempt to land fun jokes based around anachronistic aspects of the story.  Curiosity got the better of me with this flick and while I still get a smile on my face thinking about the title, it will not lead me to wanting to watch the film again anytime soon.


Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters arrives on Blu-ray with a pretty fantastic video transfer, which applies to both the 3D and 2D formats.  The disc is equipped with a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer, which does the most to bring out all the details in this action/fantasy film.  As far as the 3D goes, I seem to be hearing mixed things about whether or not the film was shot in 3D, but the Blu-ray format seems like a great place to really get the most out of a 3D viewing of the film, were one so desired to see what it looks like when Jeremy Renner fights witches in the third dimension.  There is little loss of brightness, which tends to be the case on the home format, and the film, overall makes good use of the added visual style to help bring you deeper into the mayhem on screen, regardless of thoughts of the actual film.  Beyond the 3D, the film is quite gorgeous to look at, despite some of the fairly bland set design, when it comes to village life and forest areas.  Witch lairs and some of the more exotic settings fair better, but the textures and colors always look right.  The black levels are solid as well, given the amount of darkness utilized throughout the film.  Overall, a very good transfer.


Similarly, it is hard to argue against how great the audio quality heard on this Blu-ray is.  Equipped with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack, this film’s Blu-ray makes very good use of the space on the disc to ensure quality sound.  I should note that I actually enjoyed the score for this film, as it seemed to be less tonally confused about how the film should sound throughout.  The balance is solid on this audio presentation, as the various levels of dialogue, action, explosions, and score never feel like they are overlapping poorly.  It has the same quality audio mix as I would hope to hear on any major blockbuster action feature, which is a very good thing.


It is unfortunate that we do not get a commentary track to hear more about what the process was like to make this film or at least develop it, but there are a few featurettes and various ways to watch the film, all featured in this Blu-ray set.  I should note that the 3D version of the film features only the theatrical cut, while the 2D version features the unrated cut of the film, which is 10 minutes longer.

Features Include:

Reinventing Hansel & Gretel – A very general behind-the-scenes look at the film, which plays like a greatest hits section, going over various aspects of production.

The Witching Hours – A look at the witches featured in the film and how that process was handled with makeup effects and by Famke Janssen.

Meet Edward the Troll – A look at the process to make the most ridiculous aspect of the film ‘work’.

DVD Copy of the film – Theatrical Version

UltraViolet and Digital Copy of the film


Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters is pretty much exactly what I expected.  It gets a few points for making me smile, but that is similar to smiling during the faux previous during Grindhouse.  The difference is that those only lasted a couple minutes, while ‘Hansel & Gretel’ is 90 minutes of a joke that wears off quickly.  It at least looks and sounds good enough, as the Blu-ray package is top quality, even if it is lacking in special features.  For those very curious, a rental is all you need with this film.

Aaron is a writer/reviewer for Hi-Def Ninja and WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

About the author

Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Gofer, and a Lefty. There are too many films, TV shows, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com, and check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.