Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola's first feature, the zombie Nazi movie ‘Dead Snow’, was a silly but enjoyable mess. His Hollywood debut, shot in 2009 and originally slated for release in March 2012, is a stupid, tedious misfire. Frenetic, overplotted and awash with dumb historical anomalies – a Gatling gun, a double-barrelled crossbow, a stun gun and a cure for diabetes – ‘Hansel & Gretel’ is hyperactive, hyperglycaemic torture.
Extrapolated from the 1812 Grimm's fairytale about a child-devouring witch and the brother and sister who survive a visit to her gingerbread house by burning her alive, the story picks up 15 years later. Grown-up Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) are now bounty hunters on a mission to destroy all witches. But with the Feast of the Blood Moon nigh, wicked witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) needs 12 sacrificial children to cast an anti-inflammatory spell. The kick-ass siblings have their work cut out.
Overstuffed with boring back story and lame humour, the tonally uneven plot also features a fairytale fanboy, a friendly troll and jet-powered broom sticks, all filmed in eye-stabbing 3D. Renner and Arterton will be sorry that this crass embarrassment wasn't released earlier, and only Finnish actress Pihla Viitala, as the white witch Mina, survives with her dignity intact. By contrast, Peter Stormare's power-hungry sheriff, not content to chew up the wooden scenery, seems set on munching his way through the entire deep, dark forest.