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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters



Granted, that title tells you everything you need to know. Armed with steampunk weaponry and high-gloss camp, siblings Hansel (Jeremy Renner, The Bourne Legacy) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton, Clash of the Titans) have devoted their lives to dispatching witches. In the case of this film, their current target is one (Famke Janssen, Taken 2) responsible for a terrorized village's string of missing children.

In his first Hollywood at-bat, Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola achieves the same kind of kinetic kitsch that powered his 2009 Nazi-zombie hit, Dead Snow. He also brings that cult favorite's level of gross-out (in fuller force on Paramount's “Unrated Cut” Blu-ray) played for laughs. A debt is owed to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy; a game Renner all but cheers, “This ... is my boomstick!”

There is less story in the movie than in the movie's origin (told on one of the disc's three featurettes), but with such a high concept, that's to be expected. All else being equal, had Witch Hunters not cost about $50 million and cast famous faces, critics would have praised it for its ingenuity and self-parody. It's as nutritious as the prologue's candy house in the forest, yet every bit as irresistible. —Rod Lott

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