Monday, January 28, 2013

Vampire Karate Witches

As those of you that have been around for a while will know, I frequently mention the difference between what is good and what we like and that they are not necessarily the same thing. For you newer people, you can go back and check this post in particular to get the background). People like to think they are, because people want to think "I like this, so it is good" or "I don't like this, so this is bad." Whether we like something or not has no bearing on its quality of "goodness."

I have a direct experience of this to relate.

Over this past weekend, I went to see Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Let me just start by saying that we didn't go see this so much because we wanted to see it but because we were willing to see it. I was going with a friend and there weren't that many options of movies that he hadn't already seen, so that left us with less than a handful of movies to pick from (I think the actual number was three), and this was the one that rose to the top of things that we were both most willing to go see. For me, it was mostly about Jeremy Renner.

To say that this movie was bad is an understatement. The dialogue was horrible. The story was full of more holes than Swiss cheese. What's really big? Hmm... let's say a planet. But not a small planet like Pluto that gets downgraded from being a planet; let's say something around the size of Uranus, yeah, that one works for this. The plot holes were so big, Uranus could orbit right through them. The movie was absurd. Ludicrous, even. Actually, the movie was at Ludicrous Speed.

And I loved it for that. Okay, well, maybe I didn't love it, but I love it in concept. I enjoyed most of the heck out of it despite how bad it was.

I can imagine how the concept for this movie came about:

#1: Let's make a vampire movie!
#2: Vampires are too done, right now. People are over vampires.
#1: Well, let's make it vampire hunters, then!
#2: No, that's still vampires.
#3: What about witches? No one is doing witches.
#2: Ooh! We could do Hansel & Gretel! They fight a witch.
#1: Witches are lame. They're old hags that can't fight. You'd just have witch hunters walking in and killing all the witches.
#3: We can give them powers.
#1: Like vampires! They can be super strong and super fast.
#2: And know karate!

And, so, we get these huge fight scenes of pasty faced witches that look like vampires and act like vampires, except for the biting, where everyone smashes through trees and boulders and flings spells and never get hurt. It was kind of awesome. I mean, it was completely unashamed of itself in how bad it was. It was like watching a four-year-old rolling around in a mud puddle being all self-satisfied. In fact, it was exactly like that.

I mean, it was like watching kids play an imagination game where they keep making stuff up as they go.

It starts out in a pretty normal Hansel & Gretel setting with some peasant abandoning his children in the woods. The look of the movie is as if it's set in the 1600's. All hovels and burning at the stake and all of that. But, then, as they become witch hunters, there's a scene of newspaper clippings of all the witches they kill as hunters. Newspapers which, of course, didn't exist. All of the "photos" are sketches. The movie is full of anachronistic things of that nature. The movie just doesn't care if it fits the time period or not, which is part of what made it fun. It's also part of what makes it ludicrous.

Kid #1: We're being attacked by a witch!
Kid #2: I pull out my crossbow and shoot at her!
Kid #1: She's too fast for your lame crossbow.
Kid #2: It's a double-barrel machine crossbow!
Kid #1: Fine! I pull out my gun!
Kid #2: You can't have a gun! They didn't have guns!
Kid #1: They didn't have machine crossbows either.
Kid #2: You can have a gun.
Kid #1: It's big shotgun, and I shoot at the witch!

The whole movie is like that, and, really, it does just wallow in it, and it made it a lot of fun.

Unlike, say, Van Helsing (with Hugh Jackman) which is much  the same but took itself much too seriously to be enjoyable. In fact, Van Helsing is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, which is unfortunate, because I thought Jackman did a more then fine job with what he was given. Hansel & Gretel never takes itself seriously, and, so, I never had a problem with it. Despite all of the horrible inconsistencies. Even as I sit here writing this, I'm thinking about some of the stupid things in the movie, like the witches being, basically, a separate race and the fact that they don't actually look human at all, so why is there ever a witch problem to begin with? But I kind of also don't care even though my brain is yelling at me that I should care.

Seriously, it's up there yelling, "That's so stupid!" And I'm shrugging and responding, "But it was fun."

Which is not to say that I'd actually recommend the movie to anyone, because I wouldn't. Unless you like mindless action, because that's what this is. Mindless action with a vague setting. Total cotton candy. If you like that kind of thing, this movie is just for you.


  1. I've seen the trailer for this and wasn't at all intrigued. I do like movies that are "fluff" sometimes, but I won't pay the price of going to a cinema for "fluff"

    The problem with what is "good" is that it is confused with what is "popular". Oftentimes those two things are inversely proportional. Take for instance Honey Boo Boo. I rest my case.

  2. "You can have a gun."
    Sometimes dumb fun is good, like Battleship. (It did try though.)
    Don't worry - not seeing thing one in theaters.
    And Van Helsing was indeed awful.

  3. I wasn't planning on seeing this one for awhile - at Redbox maybe. Those type movies are tough to gauge, because if you like it, then they've done their job. If you can't figure out how it is that you've come to like it, then you just bow you head to them and thank them for the spell they wove over you.

  4. Sorry to hear it's so bad. I didn't even know it was out yet. I'm just glad I didn't waste money on Snow White and the Huntsman...that one wasn't my cup of tea.

  5. As long it wasn't a waste of time, it was good...ish. There's nothing wrong with a film you switch your brain off for.

  6. Cotton candy is pretty tasty. Incidentally the witches in the Scarlet Knight series know kung-fu, or at least some of them. It comes in handy in book 2 of the series. And while some of them are old hags they can stop looking that way whenever they want. And since I started writing those in 2009 I was clearly ahead of the curve on this.

  7. Anne: I thought it might be worth a rental, which is still what I think.
    I'm not even sure what a Honey Boo Boo is.

    Alex: I'll get around to renting Battleship at some point, mostly because of Neeson.

    Rusty: My friend that went with me didn't like it, and he's usually much more tolerant of movies like that than me. In fact, I think that was the first movie we've ever walked out of that I liked and he didn't.

    Jess: My kids like that one. I didn't think it was horrible. Well, it was better than I expected it to be.

    Martin: Yeah, I agree with that. Although I'm not sure this one would have been good with your brain completely off, because you had to have it on to appreciate some of the anachronistic elements.

    PT: I think the problem with the witches in this one is that they were portrayed, basically, as if they were a separate race. Not really humans that engaged in witchcraft. Only the very most powerful witches can look human in the movie.

  8. Now that just bums me out. I really do like Renner and was hoping he'd have a chance to be in another great movie. The trailer didn't seem to promising though. Oh well, I own Hurt Locker, I'll just pop that in instead.

  9. Um, yeah. I saw the trailer with the big machine gun and thought I'd pass. But I know what you mean about just have fun and the hell with the rules. Sometimes that's the best sort of play when you're a kid.

  10. Mindless entertainment totally has its place. That's the stuff that gives your brain necessary rest when life is too stressful. The ability to suspend disbelief and just enjoy is, I suspect, more important to our humanity than most people know.

  11. I saw the trailer for that one when I went to see a good movie a couple of weeks ago. I remember going "Machine guns? Why do they have machine guns in a medieval fantasy setting with no other established pieces of modern warfare? This does not compute."

    I have a weird feeling that this is going to have a cult following of some sort. It just seems like that type of movie.

  12. Elsie: I still haven't seen The Hurt Locker. I only just realized that it's Renner in that, so that provides me with some extra incentive.

    L.G. There is a big machine gun! A big frickin' machine gun! And it's kind of awesome. Honestly, it made me want to play "pretend" with them, because I would have whipped out my light saber and not felt bad about it all.

    Sarah: Oh, there was no suspension of disbelief in this one; it was more like just going along for the ride. None of it was believable, so you just had to accept it.

    Jeanne: You know, that wouldn't surprise me. I might be part of that, because I kind of want to see it again. Which makes me feel all bad about myself. Like watching Spaceballs, I guess.

  13. Sounds B movie worthy. And like the best B movies, the nonsense can work as long as the people making the movie are having fun. Some movies are purely for entertainment anyways

  14. Jo: Yeah, I'm not really suggesting that anyone go see this one, even if I was entertained by it.

    Winopants: This was definitely one of those.