- Composed by Atli Örvarsson
- La-La Land Records / 2013 / 48m
As is customary, I spent a considerable length of time researching this capsule review and managed to glean a whole host of information about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. To save you the time of conducting a similar amount of research – time you could better spend doing any number of other activities, such as staring at the wall or clearing wax from your ear using a pencil – I am happy to summarise the film for you here. It features the fairytale characters Hansel and Gretel but with a fascinating, unpredictable twist – they are in fact witch hunters. That’s right! The music for the film was composed by Icelander Atli Örvarsson, part of Hans Zimmer’s stable of composers. His score opens very promisingly, “The Witch Hunters” being a twisted version of Danny Elfman’s style of music for Tim Burton’s fairytales, with sweet choir punctuated by electric guitars and such – hard to believe that Elfman is now part of the establishment, having once been quite the opposite!
You’d get your money’s worth of entertainment if Örvarsson had fashioned the whole score like that, but sadly from track two onwards it’s standard Remote Control stuff, generic action music dominated by electronics and guitars and sadly not featuring the kind of melodic hooks that sometimes elevate such scores into guilty pleasure territory. There is one cool guitar riff (heard in the opening of “You Do the Bleeding”, for instance) but it’s a pretty minor thing. The very same track does try to go off into more serious dramatic territory, but it sounds limp and uninspired. At times it’s very hard to believe that you’re listening to music written for a major Hollywood film rather than some sort of student project – there’s no dramatic drive, no invention, and hearing the synthetic strings in unison playing an attempt at a power anthem is pretty cringeworthy even to a non-musician like me. I guess people who don’t mind the Remote Control brand of uncreative, generic action music will possibly find some enjoyment from it, but I’m afraid any sign of creativity or quality here escaped my attention completely. The score has been released by La-La Land on CD and digitally directly by Paramount; the two releases each features a different bonus track. The word “bonus” here is used much in the same way as it would be when talking about a bird doing a shit on your head thirteen times before a bonus fourteenth one arrives just when you think the misery is over.