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"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters": Critics weigh in on fairy tale twist

Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner in a scene from "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," a modern take on the classic Brothers Grimm tale.
Paramount Pictures

Get ready for a new take on a classic Brothers Grimm tale. "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" has landed in theaters in both 3-D and IMAX 3D formats, with Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner and actress Gemma Arterton ("Prince of Persia: Sands of Time") in the title roles.

"Witch Hunters" picks up years from where the original fairy tale left off. Hansel and Gretel are now adult witch hunters bent on vengeance following their childhood ordeal with a kid-eating witch. Famke Janssen co-stars as the villain, who happens to be -- you guessed it -- a witch.

Critics have not been too kind to these witch-hunting siblings. Several reviewers have blasted the film for its thin story, deliberate anachronisms, and lack of funny dialogue -- perhaps a surprise given that Will Ferrell serves as one of the film's producers.

Here's what some critics had to say:

Andrew Barker, Variety: "'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters' is not a good film -- it's inconsistently acted, and somehow both underwritten and overplotted -- but it has some good things going for it. For one, it's not outrageously dumber than its revisionist fairy-tale predecessors "Van Helsing," "Red Riding Hood" or TV's "Once Upon a Time," and it's far more goofily violent."

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: "Once you get past the mildly amusing idea of a grown-up Hansel and Gretel seeking violent payback for childhood trauma, the joke gets old very quickly."

Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter: "Lots of anachronisms and tongue-in-cheek dialogue establish the spoofy nature of this violent venture. All that's missing is a genuine sense of wit."

Lou Leminick, New York Post: "When a flick's been whittled down to just 80 minutes before the end credits, it's a sure sign of a dump job designed to suck up as many dollars as possible before lethal word-of-mouth spreads."

Claudia Puig, USA Today: "The 3-D special effects are annoyingly in-your-face, devoid of any real purpose beyond startling the viewer. Recoiling may be the only reaction the film induces."

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: "There are some funny lines, and several cool battle scenes between the hunters and their black-magic prey. But even in 3D, the effects fall flat as often as they impress, with little attention paid to important details."

Tom Charity, CNN: "Writer-director Tommy Wirkola, whose first film was the cult Nazi zombie pic 'Dead Snow,' hasn't concocted more than a slender thread of a narrative. A witch is snatching so many children that the town mayor brings in the sibling celebrity bounty hunters (wait a minute, didn't Terry Gilliam all ready make this movie as 'The Brothers Grimm'?). Rather than construct any scares, suspense or surprise, the movie attempts to stave off boredom with a dose of kung fu fighting every five minutes."

Tell us: Do you plan to see "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters"?

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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.