The Witches (2020) –Adventure, Comedy, Family
Ooooookaaaaaaay, before I get into this and believe me, I’m going to get into it, let me set the scene. I love Roald Dahl, I love The Witches, I’m currently reading it to my class at the end of the day (my Grand High Witch would fit right at home as Herr Flick’s eviller other half from Allo Allo) and I love the 1990 film. Now normally I’d be a bit wary of Roald Dahl remakes, but after watching the trailer, the change on location and era seemed to work and the cast of Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci is incredibly strong, so we thought why no give it go. And it just goes to show, that you should stick to your instincts and the people who make trailers are veil geniuses. Adventure - I'll give you that, Comedy - not so much, Family - are you kidding me?
The story changes from London to 1960s Alabama, from a Norwegian Grandma to a Deep South one, with a history from the turn of the century with Witches and in fact these changes fit in with the story and style of a Roald Dahl book, it maintains the creepiness of The Witches by giving them a believable backstory. However, when Hero Boy and Grandma(they’re not given names in this film – which is a bit odd) check into a nearby hotel – again a diversion from the original for the reason, things go a bit, well rubbish really. For me it loses its Roald Dahl quality, its scariness mixed with fantasy and humour. It just goes a bit horrible really.
The Witches, who by rights, have no toes, are bald with itchy heads, huge nostrils and claws amongst others are turned into demons from your nightmares. I totally agree with those who got offended by their hands, which should be claws but not look like really long three-fingered things and I use the words things, even though I hate using that word in writing, they don’t look like claws, they look like someone has had a bad accident. If I was someone who had Ectrodactyly, a limb abnormality, I’d look at it and think they were taking the mick!
On top of that, the Witches mouths open up like something out of a nightmare I had after watching several Vampire series in one night, it’s something out of V Wars or Van Helsing, not a family film. You’ve got it very wrong there Mr Zemeckis.
And, my final point – to be fair I’m holding back as there is so much more, I could go on about, is the inclusion of the wonderful Kristen Chenoweth as the voice of a child who has been turned into a mouse, WHY? All other children whether real or mouse like are played by and voiced by children, why do they need the voice of a woman. It is just odd and takes away from the character, a character who by the way doesn’t exist in the book.
You can see the influence of Mr Zemeckis and Guillermo del Toro and if it wasn’t changing such a huge part of not only my childhood but also my adulthood as a teacher then I might, nah who am I kidding, I’m regretting renting this, I could’ve spent my money on something I’d have enjoyed more instead – like dental surgery!
I’m not going to score this as I don’t think it would be fair to the very talented people involved and to be honest, I reckon children would probably really enjoy it, but adults if you’ve grown up with the original – swerve this please!