Film of the week - Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D (15, 88 mins)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters featuring Gemma Arterton as Gretel. PA Photo/Paramount.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters featuring Gemma Arterton as Gretel. PA Photo/Paramount.

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Director Tommy Wirkola puts a bloodthirsty new spin on the classic fairytale in this gleefully violent fantasy.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters does exactly what it says in the snappy title: expands the story of two children held hostage by a crone in a gingerbread house into a full-blooded battle between the forces of good and evil.

There is no such thing as overkill here. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and his feisty sister Gretel (Gemma Arterton) had their first encounter with witches as children.

Through luck and enterprise, the siblings flung the diabolical crone into her oven, establishing their reputation throughout the land as protectors against the dark arts.

When several children from one sleepy village go missing, Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare) blames local woman Mina (Pihla Viitala) and prepares to burn her as a witch. The eponymous heroes intervene in the nick of time.

With the odds stacked against them, Hansel, Gretel and an enthusiastic protege (Thomas Mann) lay their lives on the line to save the children and send Muriel and her coven back to hell.

With lashings of gore and potty-mouthed humour, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is no slavish retread of the Brothers Grimm.However, frenetic action sequences cannot compensate for flimsy plotting and a paucity of character development.