Cinematic Fairy Tale Children All Grown Up: 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' Takes from 'Alice'

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In all those think tank rooms where Hollywood dreams up their derivative ideas, one brainstorm still has potential: A new film franchise utilizing grown up fairy tale children. It's a wonder that idea hasn't been tapped years ago considering the potentials of breaking the adult barrier and allowing sexual awakenings. Although we've had a little of the above recently with the horrendous 2011 bomb "Red Riding Hood."

But a more psychological take on this idea happened just before that in 2010 with Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." No matter your opinion on the sum of the movie's parts, Mia Wasikowska's coming-of-age Alice was the template the fairy tale child genre should copy. Even if they couldn't go so far as to give hints that Alice and the Mad Hatter were developing some odd romantic chemistry, Alice using her Wonderland world to help her deal with a newfound adulthood was subtle brilliance.

How that works in the world of the Brothers Grimm is a whole other story. We already know how morose the Grimms originally intended their fairy tales. Logic dictates that the children of the Grimm world would grow up to become troubled individuals who more or less impart a sense of revenge. However, even the Grimms couldn't have imagined their Hansel and Gretel mimicking something close to witch vigilantism.

Call that idea either a new low in Jeremy Renner's film career or much more interesting than the film's overview tells us. In fact, it could be the antidote to gratuitous movie violence many are railing against right now after America's horrific mass shootings. When we see former child victims imparting revenge on a witch who lived to harm kids, "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" may be more cathartic rather than annoying.

The only issue that might mar the genre of the grown-up fairy tale child is making them a little too adult. Gemma Arterton as Gretel might make sense being in her mid to late 20s. But Jeremy Renner (as Hansel) is well over 40, giving an odd balance when we're to assume they're both straight out of university age. Conversely, when you see Will Ferrell as a producer on this film, you have to wonder if it's all intended as tongue in cheek.

And that might branch off into a separate category, even if "Alice in Wonderland" intended to take a maturing fairy tale child seriously. It's possible that such a genre can't be done seriously, particularly if the fairy tale kids lived in a fantasy universe to begin with and not originating from reality. Alice was one of the few escaping the real world in order to cope with the stifling conventions of her day.

Then again, much of Mother Goose looks like a state of magic realism where the real world combines with fantasy. That paves the way toward film adaptations of "Little Miss Muffet" or "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" to tap Mother Goose and Aesop. Both of those have potentials of tapping seriously into childhood fear and embarrassment, or become uproarious satires with cringing A-list stars when the titles are mentioned as their next projects.

Such is the real problem with attracting big stars to a genre that can so easily be misunderstood just from a title.

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