Hansel & Gretel in the Hood

Movie PosterI’ve been meaning to write about a couple of movies that my wife and I watched recently. They weren’t great movies, but at least one of them was fun to watch. The other one . . . just, . . . like that third cup of coffee that was barely tepid but you drank it because it was coffee (and, y’know, coffee!), but now it’s burning through the lining in your stomach and now you need to go to the pharmacy to get antacids . . . or something.

The two movies were Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Aterton and Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe. Which one do you think was a waste of time?

If you say the movie directed by Ridley Scott, I sadly have to agree.

Now, Ridley Scott has made movies that have not moved me, movies that were not amazeballs, but I can’t remember the last Ridley Scott movie I actively disliked. Looking at his filmology, I realize that I haven’t seen many of his more recent movies. The bookends of the period with films I haven’t seen are Kingdom of Heaven and Prometheus, and I felt the same way about both of those movies – pretty cool but not great.

Lighten up, dude!Robin Hood is seriously leaden and painfully self-conscious. Listen, I let Gladiator slide because it was a great movie. I let Kingdom of Heaven slide because it was a cool movie with some great visuals and inspiration, but Robin Hood has nothing that distracts the viewer from the evidence that this is a history movie that knows fuck all about history.

And, seriously, an origin movie about Robin Hood? With Russell Crowe? He’s more of an age to do a take on Robin And Marian. Or at least a Robin Hood already well established.

Just meh. Really: don’t bother. This movie makes Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves look good. Yes, it is that bad. Do yourself a favour and watch Errol Flynn’s amazing the Adventures of Robin Hood or even the Patrick Bergin turn as Robin Hood with Uma Thurman as Marian.

Robin Hood got its teeth knocked out by Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. This was also not a great movie, but it was a fun movie. It was a crazy, ahistorical mess, with two supposedly amazing witch hunters who basically screw up totally and only survive on sheer luck.

Oddly enough, that was my biggest gripe with the movie. We’re told over and over again how badass Hansel & Gretel are, but we never actually see it. I wondered if perhaps the joke was their reputation was hugely inflated, but the big bad gives a count of the number of witches they’ve offed, and it’s very impressive. Just give us one scene with them kicking ass. It should have been the first witch they find. They should have had a tough fight, but in the end overwhelmed the witch with skill and cunning. Then, when they have trouble with the later witches, you know those witches are special, and that ups the tension.

My other gripe is how Gretel turns from badass witch hunter to damsel in distress. No, she does not need to be invincible, but given the characters as presented on screen, it would make more sense that Hansel is the one who needs rescuing . . . which he also kind of does, but not to the same level as Gretel. I thought it was another missed opportunity.

Still, this is a movie like Van Helsing, but thankfully without stupid wig. It’s actually not a bad story, just very hackneyed and formulaic. There are no surprises. Still, there’s lots of fun, and a huge amount of inspiration for a fun beer & pretzels RPG game.

Robin Hood gets a single arrow out of five. It was a huge disappointment. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters get 3.5 renaissance rotary cannons out of 5 for being fun and having a sense of humour.

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