The Witches (2020) is a terrible movie; there is no sugar-coating this one. Director Robert Zemeckis' (Forest Gump, Cast Away, and The Polar Express) hamfisted remake is one of the worst films of 2020. It's an adaption without a clear direction or purpose, bloated with annoying special effects and a lack of magic.
The Witches is a 1983 dark fantasy children's book written by the beloved author, Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox). Dahl's book was later turned into a 1990 feature film starring Anjelica Huston. The 1990 film gained a cult following — receiving praise for Huston's wicked performance, Jim Henson's masterful puppetry, and capturing the spirit of Dahl's literary style. However, the same cannot be said, about Robert Zemeckis' stab at this witchy tale. Zemeckis has made some undesirable pictures in the last 20 years, but this film with a bald Anne Hathaway takes the cake. I would not say that The Witches (2020) is a "so bad it's good" film, but it was pretty amusing to watch at how bad it turned out to be. Our films starts in 1968, when a young boy (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno) goes to live with his loving grandma (Octavia Spencer) in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis, following the death of his parents. Since his arrival, the boy begins to encounter diabolical witches. So, his grandma decides to take him away to a seaside resort, out of the witch's path. However, this same resort becomes the destination for the world's Grand High Witch gathering. Anne Hathaway plays the Grand High Witch, the leader of all of the witches in the world. She is also the most evil and the most powerful witch of them all.
The grandmother reveals to the boy that witches never leave once they find a child. We also learn that real witches have claws instead of fingernails (they hide by wearing gloves), are bald (they hide by wearing wigs), have square feet with no toes (they hide by wearing sensible shoes), and have a powerful sense of smell which they use to sniff out children. Unfortunately, Hathaway's cronies and their powerful sense find the boy along with his friends — turning them into mice. What does not work with this version of Dahl's memorable novel is the overabundance of special effects, not to mention Zemeckis' poorly constructed screenplay throughout. The frustrating CGI engulfs Hathaway's performance from being anything more than a laughing stock. Hathaway gives it her all, but the film cannot make up its mind on if it's trying to be scary or a comedy — leading the film to be unapologetically foolish. Yes, The Witches (2020) aims to be a children's movie, yet, I cannot imagine seeing any children enjoying this catastrophe. Zemeckis' grotesque VFX is a nightmare for families everywhere, while it also lacks the author's original pitch. The second half of the movie turns into a Ratatouille adventure with some major eye-rolling shenanigans. The Witches (2020) lacks the magic and soul of the original novel; while also lacking the whimsy and imagination of the 1990's feature. Zemeckis' craft comes up short in this remake and forgets to make a plea for its own existence. In the end, Zemeckis brews up a bad batch of hoopla and leaves out Dahl's greatest attribute, eccentricity.
The Witches (2020) is rated PG (Parental Guidance). Thematic Elements, Scary Images/Moments, and Language.
This disaster is directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth, Chris Rock, and Jahzir Kadeem Bruno.
Available to watch on HBO Max, if you dare.
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