Babes in the woods come back for revenge
Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters
Starring: Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.
Director: Tommy Wirkola.
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What's it about? The famous fairytale siblings grow up and kick some supernatural butt.
Verdict: 2013's answer to Van Helsing. Big, brash and dumb.
I If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise ... because instead of teddy bears having a picnic, nasty witches have set up home in the depths of the dark forests, waiting to steal innocent youngsters.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, is inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairytale – but with a new twist in the tale.
Following their escape from a cannibalistic witch when they were little, 15 years later brother and sister Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) have conquered their fears to become witch killers. They're fierce, formidably skilled bounty hunters with a taste for blood and murder, and they're hell-bent on retribution.
"I love the original fairytale and this starts there, then makes a real departure," says Arterton. "The film joins up with Hansel and Gretel in the midst of their fame as witch hunters.
"But it's also a time when they're starting to wonder who they are and why these terrible things happened to them – which leads them into a very tense situation. It's really about the two of them and it's original – a brother and sister bad-ass team."
After being abandoned by their parents, the siblings have to work together to bring down a coven of witches who are planning the ultimate revenge against humankind – and to gain immortality.
"The sibling relationship is such a great one to explore. Hansel and Gretel have this unstoppable bond but they're also so different from each other," explains the actress. "She's the brains of the operation, he's the brawn. He's the joker and the show-off. She's more the watcher, the researcher, the one who tries to really understand witchcraft. They have to each play to their strengths."
The 27-year-old, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2007, enjoyed working with Renner, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker in 2010.
"Jeremy is so amazing at action, but he also has a lot of sensitivity when needed. He brings a lot of fun to their relationship," she says. "He's become a really good friend.
"We just have a very natural connection, very open-hearted and we trusted each other instantaneously. It was so important for us to get that brother-sister relationship right."
A self-confessed girly girl who admits she isn't a "tough chick", Arterton enjoyed the opportunity to play a feisty female.
"It was a real relief to play that kind of part – usually you still have to have a romantic connection with one of the characters, but in this one I don't and it's great," she says.
She threw herself into the training for the role, which sees her hoisting some impressive weapons, throwing punches and kicking some serious witch butt.
"It's one of the reasons I wanted to do the film because I've always wanted to punch people!" she says. "I had to do lots of training because I'd never done anything like it and I absolutely loved it.
"I came in before anybody else and worked with the stunt team in a kind of intensive boot camp. It was great because it really rooted me and made me more present in the action scenes."
The combat skills have already come in handy, as Arterton revealed during her recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show.
"I was in one of those ATM cash machine rooms and there was a tramp in there. He kept looking at me and then he grabbed my bum really hard," she said.
"I turned round and properly punched him in the face. I then realised I'd punched a tramp in the face, so I ran. Thank God he didn't punch me back. I actually felt quite bad about it."
But the fairytale romp isn't the only big-screen release the former Bond girl is plugging this week.
Trained singer Arterton also gets to indulges her passion for music in the more sedate Song For Marion alongside Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp, which opens this weekend.
As a grounded tale of stiff upper lips, choral singing and terminal illness – in a very recognisable British setting – it couldn't be further from the fantasy pyrotechnics of the Grimm blockbuster.
But for Arterton, variety is, seemingly, the spice of life.
"I like to keep things as surprises. I'm very open to what the future holds," she says.
And she has no complaints about her enduring Bond girl tag either. "As long as I'm a girl when I'm 78 as well, I'll be very chuffed."
Song For Marion is out now. Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters opens in cinemas on Wednesday, February 27.