The Now Playing Piper

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Parker and Movie 43

I’m surprised at the reception (or lack of one) for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the cinema in a starring role.  While I admit The Last Stand was not the greatest, I still had a decent time catching up with the old action star.  It’s a typical Arnold film; violent, explosive and dumb but has a charming taste.  I guess the public has tired of the old guard and are looking for the new. 


My only problem is that I don’t know from whom that will emerge.  There are not many true action heroes left in the cinema.  Instead they’re being replaced by the Brad Pitt’s and the Colin Farrell’s of the world (or worse, Taylor Lautner).  They are good actors (minus Taylor) but the producers and directors are looking more for the pretty boy instead of a physical presence.  One of my few hopes has a film being released this weekend.  I’ll get to that in a bit.


With the failure of The Last Stand and last summer’s Dredd, I fear the days of the hard R-rated action films are over.  Instead, we will be subjected towards more Abduction’s; weak PG-13 action clichés that does nothing but bring in the younger audience, where all the money now lies.  Hopefully, the (thankfully) R-rated A Good Day to Die Hard will prove my hypothesis wrong when it’s released in a few weeks.  Only time will tell.


Enough about action films, let’s talk about… an action film based on a fairy tale.




In this spin on the fairy tale, Hansel & Gretel are now bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past. *


The Good – I had my doubts about this movie from the start, even with the reliable Jeremy Renner in the starring role.  I thought this initially looked like a dumb action movie with a ridiculous premise.  The regular trailer left me cold; dreading when this film would be released.  But that was the green band (general audiences) trailer.  The red band trailer (restricted), on the other hand, had the opposite effect.  That trailer had me laughing along with this absurd premise.  It was a night and day difference.  What once before was dull had been filled with life and excitement.  This is not the first time a red band trailer had changed my mind about a film’s prospects.  Last year’s 21 Jump Street had the same effect.  I walked away liking that film a lot.  Hopefully, this one will do the same.


The Bad – But I still have to deal with that green band trailer.  It was far from decent, bordering on bad.  It brought to mind the Terry Gilliam snorefest The Brothers Grimm.  That film tried to interject old fairy tales into an action type fantasy setting, but it crashed on arrival.  If the majority of the viewing audience only sees what the green band trailer presented, then this film will be gone in about two weeks, and I may be generous in that estimation.


The Ugly – My prediction: the next fairy tale action adventure will be The Three Little Pigs: Werewolf Slayers.


Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is rated R for strong fantasy horror violence and gore, brief sexuality/nudity and language.




A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew's latest heist. *


The Good – Here is the action star that I was referring to earlier.  Jason Statham has that intimidating physical presence that a lot of today’s action stars lack.  He is the type that if he were to walk into a bar, everyone would notice and immediately shrink away.  He has not always chosen the best of films (anyone who stars in an Uwe Boll film is immediately knocked down several pegs) but even in his duds, he still stands heads and shoulders above all (outside of The Expendable films but he does more than hold his own against those juggernauts of action).


The Bad – And then there’s Jennifer Lopez, the former American Idol judge.  To say her acting career is a disappointment is an understatement.  She showed much promise in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight that I actually thought she stood a great chance of being an actress.  Lopez followed this fantastic performance with an inconceivable music career and many bad, bad romantic comedies.  J. Lo from the Block somehow has many fans, but I doubt they will show up for this film.


The Ugly – I brought up Uwe Boll.  Do yourself a favor and avoid him like the plague… You’re going to look him up now, aren’t you?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Parker is rated R for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity.




A series of interconnected short films follows three kids as they search the depths of the Internet to find the most banned movie in the world. *


The Good – This is a star studded film, featuring the likes of Emma Stone, Kristen Bell, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard, Elizabeth Banks, Sean Williams Scot, Justin Long, Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, and Richard Gere… and that is just a sampling of who is appearing.  There are many, many more participants.


The Bad – Of course, all that star power doesn’t mean the movie will be any good either.  I groaned throughout the entire trailer, outside of one segment (the Terrence Howard basketball coach scene).  This is a star powered gross out comedy that looks to try too hard to offend.  Maybe it is the fact we are seeing only the punch lines and not the crucial setups that has turned me off to this film.  This looks like the Kentucky Fried Movie on drugs, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.  This film just looks bad.


The Ugly – I must be getting old if I look at what passes for comedy these days and can do nothing but a double face palm.


Movie 43 is rated R for strong pervasive crude and sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug use.


That will do for this week.  Tune in next time when another 80’s staple takes his shot at the crown.  Until then, I’ve got me some witches that need a killin’.


*all summaries taken from 

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