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Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club: Rewriting old tales can sometimes lead to interesting movies

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 19. 2013 10:59PM

Alternative history has been a part of fiction for a long time - where real life events are changed to create a story.

But a more recent trend is to take older works of fiction and give them a spin, such as the book "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," or the book (and then movie) "Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."

Now comes a new take on the old Brothers Grimm tale "Hansel and Gretel." A movie of the same name (mostly . but much different content) releases to theaters on Friday called "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters."

These re-imaginings of older tales are not always my cup of tea, but something about this one (OK, it's the flashy trailers) has my interest piqued. That the movie stars Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye from "The Avengers") as Hansel doesn't hurt and Gemma Arterton ("Clash of the Titans") as Gretel is also a plus.

The plot is pretty simple. Hansel and Gretel are all grown up, having lived through the traumatic childhood event involving a witch and her gingerbread house. The siblings are now bounty hunters specializing in witches.

The duo is hired to take down a witch who is planning a massive sacrifice to her gods. Action, blood and mayhem ensue. Sounds like a good way to spend two hours to me.

But these types of movies can go either way. A lot of it has to do with style. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" has some flair to it and was (to me) very entertaining with a nice dose of suspension of disbelief.

But others of this ilk, such as 2004's "Van Helsing" come up short, missing that something extra that pushes a movie into "better than it should be" territory. "Van Helsing" had Hugh Jackman and some cool action, but overall, it just felt a little off.

But I have a good feeling about this film.

Like the Abe Lincoln flick, I think you have to approach these movies with the right mindset. Is this going to be an Academy Award-nominated movie in any regard? Nope. But could it be a lot of fun to see at the theater with a big bucket of popcorn and some friends? Absolutely.

And that's why I'll be in line to see it next weekend.

Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Check out his podcast "Nerdherders" on iTunes or at and his books, "Prophecy of Shadows" and "Plains of the Past." His e-mail address is

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