Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Blu-ray Review
PictureHansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Extended Cut is delivered as an impressive looking 2.40:1 AVC encoded transfer. It boasts an excellent image that will undoubtedly impress on a decent display. To be honest, I couldn't find much at fault here. Blacks are probably the most stand out in the video presentation, they're deep and rich and inky, and there's not a trace of crush in the image, despite the heavy handedness of the grading in the night time scenes. The overal palette is awash with subtle blues and oranges, with nothing untoward popping out. Shadow detail could perhaps be slightly better, but it's not a fault of the image, it's most definitely a creative decision to push the blacks this hard. It works.
Detail is pretty close to being impeccable, and it stands up to some of the format's leading video presntations. Texturing on clothing is superb, from the linen fibers of their shirts and vests, to the creases of the tempered boiled leather jerkins - all look superb. Skin tones feel natural enough in daylight scenes, if a little overly saturated and slightly "warm" in night time scenes. Again, the evidence suggests this is entirely deliberate, so nothing faulty to report.
The only potential downside to the image is the fast camera work tends to make the image feel a lot more frenetic and blurry than it needs to be, and as a result, the CG can suffer once in a while. Nothing really to get too worked up over though.
It's a sharp, crisp and richly coloured and textured image that will look great on decent displays.
SoundThe audio track is presented here in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround, but if truth be told, it feels a little wasted.
The dialogue is restricted only to the centre channel, along with the bulk of the sound effects. I tend to find this a bit wasteful of a surround array, as things tend to feel quite condensed and don't have the width that the surrounds can provide. Also, with dialogue and the majority of the focussed sound effects occupying one single channel, there tends to be a significant amount of ducking or side-chaining that seems extremely pointless when there's two additional channels either side of it. Anyway, perhaps more of a bug-bear of mine than a genuine issue with the disc - there are a lot of movies out there that use this technique, so it's by no means unique.
Despite all that, the dialogue is pretty clear and never gets lost. The sound effects when they're on their own use a lot of dynamic range, and have a lot of high frequency detail to them. LFE is sparse and arguably underused for the style of the movie, but it adds a depth rather than an impact to the overall mix which I wholeheartedly approve of.
However as mentioned above, sometimes when dialogue is fighting with the sfx and music, we end up feeling as though the fidelity of the music drops and it lacks punch, or the sound effects lose impact as their amplitude is dropped. Man, just use give me some space in the sound mix!
Again though, it's a solid audio presentation, though the best parts actually happen in the opening titles for me where it's a veritable tour de force of sound mixes - worth watching for the audio alone to be honest.
ExtrasI can't help but feel a little cheated with the meagre offering on the whole, but there's probably one or two moments worth seeing if you can find the patience to care about the movie.
Reinventing Hansel & Gretel
A 15 minute featurette that discusses how this, rather questionable interpretation of the famous siblings were effectively re-designed. Director Tommy Wirkola talks about how he had the idea for the movie when he was at college. Interesting to watch, to a point.
The Witching Hours
10 minutes of discussion on the witches of Hansel & Gretel, their make-up, their origins, and how they fit into the story. I won't lie, I got bored pretty quickly.
Meet Edward the Troll
If you care about who Edward the troll is, this 5 minute piece is pretty informative. It's a guy in an animatronic suit, sure - but if you want to know how it feels to be in the suit, then you'll probably find that answer here.
VerdictIt's as if by some black magic or some unseen sorcery that Hansel & Gretel manages to remain completely and utterly devoid of any substance worthy of praise for it's entire running time – which, by the way, feels like an eternity. Billed as a light-hearted faux-modern take on a well known fairy tale, this movie is a staggering disappointment in every sense of the word. Not only that, but this being the "extended cut" means that you get an additional 10 full minutes of tripe to sit through that the theatrical version didn't have. Joy!
The picture and sound presentation provide a bitter sense of irony in that they are actually of a very high standard, and certainly stand up to some of the better looking and sounding Blu-rays I've seen of late, but with barely a morsel or three of extras, and the truly terrible movie to boot, I couldn't recommend this based solely on the good video and audio. Poor show.
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