Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

2013.moviedoppelgangers

Every year, there seem to be unintended themes emerging from movie releases. It’s almost as if the studios called each other to coordinate projects like friends in high school planning to wear matching outfits on a Friday. Sometimes this effect is unintentional, like when an emerging movie star manages to have multiple films comes out the same year (see Melissa McCarthy below); other times, it’s a result of executives switching studios and developing similar projects (like the infamous Disney and DreamWorks 1998 double-header grudge match of A Bug’s Life vs. Antz and Armageddon vs. Deep Impact). This year is no different, producing a slew of movie doppelgangers. For the sake of creativity, I left the painfully obvious off. Still, who can forget offerings like Olympus Has Fallen up against White House Down as well as This Is the End paired with The World’s End? And, if you really hate yourself, you can watch a terrible trippleganger of A Haunted House, Scary Movie 5 and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Whether it’s similar themes, the same actor in noticeably similar roles, or parallel stand-out moments in two films, this list of 13 movie pairings can provide a nice selection of companion pieces for your viewing pleasure.

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hansel and gretel witch hunters 04

If you want a sure sign of what the global market looks like, Hollywood has got you covered. Even though Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters only earned $55m domestically, the movie scored over $150m internationally, and those numbers are prompting Paramount and MGM to partner on a potential sequel. According to Variety, the studios want a second helping of the Tommy Wirkola-directed film, but it’s unclear as to whether they’ll be able to get Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner back. Pure gut-reaction guess? The pair won’t be back, and it won’t matter. They’ll made Hansel and Gretel 2: Witchier with two new faces, trade off the name recognition of the first to make back diminished returns and leave Terry Gilliam to scratch his head over what happened with The Brothers Grimm.

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hansel and gretel witch hunters 04

The other day I received an email from a reader who is quite familiar with Tommy Wirkola’s background. He tells me that, while at film school, the director pitched something with the title “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and received the following response from a professor: “never mention it again before you’re standing in front of Hollywood executives.” Even if the story is embellished at all (our reader says it was in the Norwegian press), it’s a perfect prologue for the fairy tale-like fantasy of the film industry and a harsh set up for the sad truth about million-dollar ideas. Wirkola did wind up in Hollywood and has made a feature called Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Of course he did, because it’s the sort of title that goes a long way in the business. The only pitch necessary is in those four words — we have well-known characters and a simple premise all spelled out right there. But just because it’s a genuinely clever concept and, more importantly, an easily sellable product, that doesn’t make it a movie worth seeing. Wirkola never gives us anything more creative than those four words, unfortunately, and even worse, he directs his unimaginative script with so little care and spirit that you’d think he hadn’t been sitting on this project for so many years.

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Remake Star Wars

If you already have low expectations for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, you might not be interested in seeing the first film by Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola. It won’t exactly do much for your interest in the new action-infused fairy tale. But if you’re like me and are fascinated by the calling card short films of Hollywood moviemakers, you’ll want to check out Remake. Anyway, it’s under seven minutes, so you’re not wasting too much time. The short was produced in Australia in 2006, and Wirkola shares helming duties on the film with Kit McDee (who has his own action feature with the word “hunters” in it out this year called The Hunters Club Movie). They both also co-star as hotel desk clerks (or owners?) who offer guests homemade Betamax videos featuring cheap remakes of popular movies (Titanic, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Scream and Deep Throat are among the titles we see). Basically these movies have been “sweded,” although Remake was made before Be Kind Rewind, which coined that term and popularized the concept.

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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

While we may often joke about the provenance of many films that Hollywood churns out, truth be told, there are few projects that leave me scratching my head as much as Tommy Wirkola‘s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Surely, someone, somewhere, was itching for this tale of grown-up fairy tale kids turned bounty hunters, but I can’t rightly decide who the hell would conceive of such a thing. Yes, yes, of course Wirkola and co-screenwriter Dante Harper had the idea first, but the whole thing sounds like such a ludicrous pitch that it’s boggling that they weren’t laughed out of the room. It’s Hansel. And Gretel. Grown-up. As bounty hunters. And it sort of looks like 300. Sure? However the hell this thing got the screen, the film is finally being released later this month, so let’s all ponder its origins with a new red band trailer that, at this point, seems pretty tame.

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Hansel and Gretel

The new red band trailer for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring the dynamic duo of Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) and Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) as the old Grimm’s tale grown up, is a little bit rock and roll. The 3D action film from Dead Snow director Tommy Wirkola and producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (no, seriously) appears to sport plenty of blood, a number of snide remarks and a buffet of creative deaths for witch kind, not the least of which is burning at the stake. Because that’s what happens to witches, kids…

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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Everybody has heard the old fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. It’s a story about two little German children, a cannibal witch with a taste for tender flesh, a ginger bread house, and a blazing hot industrial oven. One question most people probably have never asked, however, is what happens after the story ends. Well director/co-writer of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow), did ask that question, and what he decided is that those little scamps probably “got a taste for witch blood” and grew up to be leather-clad badasses who hunt down witches with their extensive knowledge of kung fu and never-ending arsenal of futuristic firepower.

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Did you ever wonder what might have happened to fairy tale characters Hansel and Gretel 15 years after that fateful day when they pushed a witch into an oven? No, neither did I. But director Tommy Wirkola and his co-screenwriter Dante Harper did, so now we’re getting the new action film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular duo. That’s a ridiculous idea, so scoff if you must, but I’m starting to think this movie might actually do pretty well. We’ve already written about how awesome it is that Peter Stormare is set to play the villain of this piece, and now Entertainment Weekly has revealed the first official image from the film, which has Renner and Arterton all butched up in black leather with big guns (check out the full photo after the break), and they’re throwing around buzz words like “dark” and “violent” in the accompanying interview. All the talk of darkness and grittiness isn’t just casual though, it’s hammered home in a way that suggests they’ve been instructed by the studio to push how decidedly not for kids this movie is going to be. Arterton told EW, “You see a series of flashbacks with their experience of killing that first witch, which is brilliant. I remember being on set for the final few days of that. The candy house, and the witches are really repulsive and quite frightening. The make-up is out of this world. It’s this bone-chilling scene. Very […]

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Jeremy Renner. Famke Jannsen. Now Peter Stormare. The casting for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is enough to send interest into the stratosphere. I also here Gemma Arterton can act one out of every three movies or so, so she’s ripe for this one. According to Deadline Växjö, Stormare will be joining the fantasy film as a sheriff with some ethical problems named Berringer. Like his bad-tasting-wine name suggests, he’ll be playing a bad guy. Is there anything more to say about that? Stormare, villain, done deal. The guy is terrifying, and for all the roles fans most likely recognize him for, one that still has yet to see US theaters or rental queues is Corridor where he barely says anything and still remains almost solely responsible for nerve-destroying fear. Of course this isn’t the first time Stormare has ventured into this territory. He played a gun-toting character in Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm back in 2005.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Hey, you. Yes, you. No, not that person behind you who seems curiously intent on strangling you with a stand of fishing line. You. I’m guessing you are here because you want to know what’s going on in the world of movies? And chances are you’ve had about enough of the “Film School Rejects attitude” seen in other, more wordy editorials. I’m here to rescue you and give you only the news that you crave as we both stare up at the moon together. And just as you realize that the guy behind you was, in fact, killing you this whole time, you are also going to realize something else: I’m delivering the news with attitude, as well. What can I say, it’s late…

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Jeremy Renner and Noomi Rapace should probably start collecting bread crumbs now as it appears they’ll be playing Hansel and Gretel in the near future. Renner is in Venice promoting his new film, The Town, and he gave an interview where he spoke about upcoming projects. He mentioned production on Mission Impossible IV starts soon but then added that he’s also attached to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. “I play him [Hansel],” Renner said, “and Noomi Rapace plays Gretel. They have become adults, are damned, and are going on witch hunting.”

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tommy-wirkola

Tommy Wirkola sat down with us to talk about his much buzzed about Nazi zombie opus.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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