Sunday, January 13, 2013

hansel & gretel: warriors of witchcraft

Article first published as DVD Review: Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft on Blogcritics.

At first glance it may seem that Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is just an obvious attempt to capitalize on the upcoming theatrical release, Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters. And it is, sorta.

The straight-to-DVD teen-centered film is set to be released (on January 22) just three days before the big-screen, more grown-up Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters, starring Jeremy Renner as Hansel and Gemma Arterton as Gretel, is set to be released in theaters. But Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft has more in common with films like The Craft and the recently cancelled CW series The Secret Circle. This film is all about the horrors of high school cliques, with some supernatural elements like witchcraft and covens thrown in to jazz things up.

Ella (Fivel Stewart) investigates her family's history as witch hunters.

Twin teens Jonah (Booboo Stewart, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2) and Ella (Fivel Stewart, The O.C.) are sent to an elite school in Salem, Massachusetts. Once there they are thrown in with the usual assortment of mean kids and teen cliques. One group, which isn't just a clique, but a coven, seems set on recruiting Jonah to join, while Ella meanwhile tries to unravel the dark secrets behind the secret society.

A sympathetic teacher, Ms. Keegan (Vanessa Angel, Hall Pass, Weird Science), and the ever-lurking headmaster (Eric Roberts, The Dark Knight, The Expendables) are both keeping a close eye on the new arrivals, but maybe with differing agendas. Cherie Currie (The Runaways, Foxes) is also on hand as another teacher, Ms. Thoman.

The two soon discover that they are descended from a long line of witch slayers, starting with Hansel and Gretel, and they may have to step up to the plate and use their heritage to protect themselves and others at the school - if they can stop working against each other.

DVD special features include commentary with director David DeCoteau (House of Usher, The Frightening) and the cast, a well as a stills gallery. The the sound is 2.0 stereo and subtitles are available in Spanish. The video format is 16x9 widescreen (2.40:1). Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft has a total running time of 90 minutes and the film is rated PG-13 for some violence.

The film has definitely more of a Gossip Girl vibe than similarly themed television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the more recent Grimm. It should be entertaining for the tween/teen set, who will relate to the high school shenanigans. But with the slow pace - the movie takes its time setting things up and establishing suspense before any real action happens - and the lack of any real romance or terror, Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft is watchable, but also quickly forgettable.


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