Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool
I'm a sucker for a good bit of steampunk. I've spent most of the day variously writing comic reviews, writing TV reviews (Last Resort is brilliant and so very, very doomed) and watching trailers and the thing which made me giggle the most? It was the Red Band trailer for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunterswith Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.
Okay, not just because it's steampunk. If steampunk trappings on fairy tale lore were enough I'd actually have liked The Brothers Grimm, but because this shows every sign of being a film that not only knows what it is and is fine with that, but has decided to have a little fun along the way.
Here are 10 reasons why we can trust this.
1. Woman, This Is Jeremy Renner Killing Witches
I'm a huge fan of Mr Renner, and several female friends of mine are huge fans of this motivational Tumblr, featuring Mr Renner being nurturing, serious and motivational. I like Renner being all those things but when was the last time he had fun? When he was allowed to cut loose? SWAT? Or the video to 'Trouble' by Pink?
Listen to how vocal he is in this trailer, how relaxed. I suspect he has more lines in this trailer than he had in The Avengers. Sounds light too, like he's having fun, I like that.
2. United by Douchery
There's an interesting implication in the opening of the trailer that their father is, shall we say, somewhat unconcerned about sending his children off to be eaten. That idea, that the only people the pair can rely on are each other, is familiar, but fertile, narrative ground. Dad leaves them alone to be killed in that wonderfully greasy, unpleasant looking witch house and they respond…by pummeling a witch to death and then setting her alight. Any way you cut it that's a horrific experience and I suspect it leads into Gretel in particular's anger issues later in the trailer.
3.No Such Thing As a Good Clean Fight
That witch clearly doesn't die easily either. Look at the shot of the two kids in the window of the furnace. Gretel has a very unusual, almost square blood -spray pattern on her face, which leads me to believe there's a lot of this fight we haven't seen.
This also ties into a couple of beats later on in the trailer that level the traditional gender roles out pretty definitively between the two leads. Gretel's not the weak physical link here and it'll be interesting to see if the movie actually commits to that as part of her character.
Carrying on in that vein…
4.Gretel Hits Things
Gretel hits things a lot in fact. Look at the flash-cut sequence. She's the one not only engaging the witches with her magazine-fed crossbow-with-a-concealed-swordy-bit (available in shops just in time for Christmas 2013!) but actually going hand to hand with them. And not only that, she's also the one who headbutts poor Peter Stormare into oblivion and she's the one being handed a very up close and personal beating by witches later in the trailer.
This bears looking at for a moment because let's face it, this genre of movie still runs shy of brutal women fighting. Female characters get to be graceful and poised and ninja-esque but they don't tend to be allowed to get their knuckles bloody, things never get up close and personal and ugly.
Done right, that distinction can make a good action sequence sing, male characters slugging it out as female characters become graceful whirlwinds of death. Done wrong, it can kill a movie. I can't help but wonder, in this pos-Gina Carano world, whether the idea of a female action heroine who has no problem throwing hands has finally gained traction. I really hope so and Arterton certainly looks credible doing it.
Metal cables, stretched between trees, low flying high speed witches. Like the Return of the Jedi speeder bike chase with way more gristle. I love it.
6.Forces of Supernature
That early point about female physicality also seems to be borne out by how the witches make their entrances, which, most of the time, appears to involve tearing a hole in a building. They're shown to be almost elemental in power, something which ties into what we see earlier in the trailer, with Hansel and Gretel having to work hard to take one down and finding much more success in being sneaky. One witch is hard work, but the army we seem to be shown here, gathering for some purpose, is a very real, very credible threat.
7.The Really Dark Phoenix
Especially when it seems to be led by Famke Janssen. Always a pleasure to see her in a genre movie and the fight here looks like a doozy. Crossbow-fu galore, the sword moment from earlier in the trailer looks to be relevant here too and some nice aerial work that we get a flash of later on. I suspect this is when Gretel is taken, but she doesn't seem to go without putting up a hell of a fight.
8.Such Wonderful Toys
Hansel's pop-out witch knucks; Gretel apparently wrapping wire around her hands to go punch a witch to death' a pop out gatling gun; and when all else fails, Hansel knocking a witch off her broomstick with a very large piece of tree to the chest. The action sequences in this thing look like a gleeful combination of down-and-dirty and utterly demented and I'm really looking forward to seeing them play out on the big screen.
9.Cool Witch Hunters Don't Look At Explosions
1:59 for those of you curious as to just when the 'badass slow motion walk away from the explosion' is. But who's Hansel carrying? And who's the fourth person in the frame?
10.Can You Fly, Jeremy?
A flash shot of Mr Renner plummeting Earthwards suggests the witches get creative in combat too. After all, if you can fly and the other guy can't? Grab some air. One of you will land, the other will bounce. What really interests me about this scene though is just how Hansel gets out of it. Perhaps a little broom-jacking is in his future?
10.5.I'm Betting It's Not The Smoke Monster From Lost. Probably.
What's in the trees? WHAT'S IN THE TREES?! I'm betting on ogre, or possibly vast, and hopefully not dreadfully CGI-ed, Witch amalgam. Witchalgam. Whichever. Stop it.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is released on January 25th, 2013, apparently in both the UK and the US. I can't wait.