Hansel & Gretel: A rollicking action-horror adventure
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A legendary fairytale transforms —- taking a dark, twisting turn down a new path into fun, fast-paced action and sly, sinister modern thrills — in the rollicking action-horror adventure Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. 

The story picks up 15 years after siblings Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) hatched their escape from a child-snatching witch, who changed their lives forever…and gave them a taste for blood. Now they have come of age as fierce, formidably skilled bounty hunters 100 percent dedicated to tracking and terminating witches in every dark forest — hell-bent on retribution. But as the notorious “Blood Moon” approaches and a familiar wooded town faces a nightmare for its innocent children, Hansel and Gretel encounter an evil beyond any witch they’ve ever hunted — an evil that could hold the secret to their frightening past. 

The Mayor of Augsburg, Germany recruits them to rid the town and nearby forests of an evil sorceress Muriel (Famke Janssen) who is planning to sacrifice many local children at the witches’ gathering during the upcoming “Blood Moon” night in two days time. To make things worse, the duo also has to deal with the brutal Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare) who has taken power in Augsburg and conducts a very indiscriminate witch-hunt of his own.

Children around the world have long had their bones chilled by the classic fairytale of Hansel and Gretel, the brother and sister lost in the woods, then ensnared by an icy-hearted witch who cooks and eats children. At the story’s end, the duo foil the witch’s cannibalistic clutches…but what happened to them next? That’s what writer/director Tommy Wirkola’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters dares to imagine, tackling the question in all its scary, funny and suspenseful potential.  Joining their story as the adult siblings emerge as the most lethal witch hunters ever to stalk the woods, the film turns an ancient fable into a no-holds-barred epic of modern action and adventure. 

Immediately, Wirkola saw the makings of a visually ferocious, humor-laced and action-packed experience for the 21st-century audiences raised on the tale. As he began writing, he determined he would stay true to the spirit of the original German folk legend — first published back in 1812 by the famed unearthly tale-collectors, The Brothers Grimm — but put no limits on his imagination from there. 

“I wanted the vibe of the original fairy tale but I also wanted to spice it with all the things I love most in movies — comedy, horror and graphic action.” he summarizes. “A gruesome aura was always there in the original tale, but I brought it to the forefront, while injecting humor. And the story is still about this really strong bond between brother and sister — the way Hansel and Gretel are driven to stick together, no matter what it takes, as they confront evil.” 

To take Hansel and Gretel out of the annals of legend and into visceral, contemporary action, Wirkola knew he would need to find two strong personalities who could morph these characters from legend to real life. The search for a contemporary ideal of how Hansel and Gretel might have turned out — after being raised on dreams of vengeance against the foul wickedness of witches — led to the pairing of Renner, Oscar-nominated for his searing action role as an Iraq War bomb expert in The Hurt Locker and rising British actress Arterton, whose allure came to the fore when she joined the iconic circle of Bond Girls in Quantum of Solace. 

Renner also found himself wrapped up in what becomes Hansel’s guiding philosophy. “He and Gretel have gone through an amazing tragedy,” Renner observes. “They don’t have parents, witches have tried to eat them and what Hansel has taken away is that you’ve got to take your personal anger and pain and do something good with it.” 

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a Paramount Pictures and Metro Goldwyn Mayer presentation, distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corporation. It will hit theaters nationwide on Jan. 23.

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