Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”
Let’s start off by stating the obvious – we know the premise of Hansel and Gretel being bounty hunters tracking witches is silly. We’re aware of the cheapening that occurs when Brothers Grimm tales are restructured to suit modern audiences. The filmmakers are also aware, they just don’t care, because this children’s allegory about the dangers of excess makes for a fun action/horror flick. Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye from “The Avengers”) continues to hone his action hero chops as one half of the witch-slaying duo. And Gemma Arterton is quickly becoming the go-to leading lady for big budget B-movies. Famke Janssen lends her scowl as the head witch in charge. Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola has a history telling German stories. His breakthrough film, “Dead Snow” was about Nazi soldiers transformed into modern day zombies. Yes, Grimm tales have been scoured and beaten to death, but this is an original take that ranked an R rating and for a bonus, it never takes itself too seriously – worth a watch.
“Jack the Giant Slayer”
Since director Bryan Singer made the first two terrific “X-Men” films, then left and allowed Brett Ratner to totally screw up “X-Men: Last Stand,” all everyone has wanted to know is when is he returning to his mutants. It would seem he’s stubborn. Instead of X-Men movies, he’s made movies about Superman and Nazi conspiracies, before tossing fans a bone by producing the nice reboot, “X-Men: First Class.” He has another edition of the “X-Men” coming next year but in the meantime, he’s examining a dark version of a fairy tale about beanstalks and big, ugly people. Playing the title role, Nicholas Hoult is making the most of his geek chic, starring in a handful of huge movies in the last couple of years. Eleanor Tomlinson transitions well into a bigger part than she’s used to. It doesn’t hurt that Singer surrounds the two with a tall cast list – Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan and Ian McShane share the screen with a hundred cool giants. No, it’s not as awesome as an “X-Men” flick, but it’s a pretty entertaining and dark family film and worth a watch.
Speaking of directors, the guy who directed this one, Richard LaGravenese has a spotty resume. He’s the guy responsible for the snoozers, “Freedom Writers” and “P.S. I Love You.” Now, he aims to adapt this popular book about witches into the next “Twilight.” To bring supernatural teenage romance from the page to the screen is no easy task but he almost pulls it off. The characters are more interesting and the story has more depth than “Twilight.” So yes, it is a better film than any of the “Twilight” installments. But that ain’t saying much. And the negative issues far outweigh the positive ones – the terrible, fake Southern accents are one of the blaring ones. Add in an overly contrived love story that’s both rushed and mushed and you’re finding yourself saying, “ Pass.”
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge