An R-rated horror action comedy fairy tale -- how's that for genre bending? "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" is more Gatling guns and grenades than the Brothers Grimm. It takes the kidnapped kiddies into adulthood, where they've parlayed their fame at cooking a witch's goose into a business.
High-concept pitch or no, the movie doesn't really work.
"Gingers" were a favorite target of witch hunters. Hansel shrugs this barbaric crime off, but Gretel insists that the locals need "evidence." That puts them in conflict with the sheriff (Peter Stormare), who can't get a handle on their "witch plague" and the missing children who come with it. H & G have been hired to do what he cannot.
It isn't long after Hansel mutters, "Any place we can get a drink in this hellhole?" that the siblings are on the job, chasing lesser witches in pursuit of the Great Witch, played by Famke Janssen as if the makeup is going to do all the acting for her.
And when they're on the clock, they have all manner of clever gear to help them -- pistols, rifles, semiautomatic crossbow, a Taser (albeit a primitive, hand-cranked one).
Writer-director Tommy Wirkola focuses on the fights and flings all manner of viscera at the 3-D camera as limbs are whacked off and heads and torsos explode. Less attention was paid to the story, and the dialogue is a tad over-reliant on the random F-word to land a laugh.
The cleverest touch? Hansel's mania for candy-covered houses is what landed Hansel & Gretel in that witch's clutches, all those years ago. Now, he carries an ancient hypodermic needle and takes injections to ward off insulin shock.
PLOT Fairy-tale siblings are now grown-up bounty hunters. RATING R (gory violence)
BOTTOM LINE Fairytale re-imagining is more grim than Grimm.