Film review: Roald Dahl’s The Witches

It’s always risky to adapt a Roald Dahl’s novel to the big screen because we all have individual memories of his stories that we treasure. I have rarely liked any Roald Dahl’s adaptations – with the exception of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp – but Roald Dahl’s The Witches starring Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch is well made and captivating. The special effects somehow flow smoothly and you feel transported into Roald Dahl‘s world of these evil creatures that persecute children all around the world.

The story

Reimagining Dahl’s beloved story for a modern audience, Zemeckis’s visually innovative film tells the darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy (Bruno) who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma (Spencer) in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks our young hero away to an opulent seaside resort.

Copyright: © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures Caption: ANNE HATHAWAY as Grand High Witch in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure THE WITCHES, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch (Hathaway) has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe—undercover—to carry out her nefarious plans. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, the screenplay is by Robert Zemeckis & Kenya Barris (TV’s “black-ish,” “Shaft”) and Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”). Zemeckis is also producing, alongside Jack Rapke, del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Luke Kelly.

Serving as executive producers are Jacqueline Levine, Marianne Jenkins, Michael Siegel, Gideon Simeloff and Cate Adams. Zemeckis’s behind-the-scenes team includes a roster of his frequent collaborators, including Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump”), production designer Gary Freeman, editors Jeremiah O’Driscoll and Ryan Chan, Oscar-nominated costume designer Joanna Johnston (“Allied,” “Lincoln”), and Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri (“Polar Express,” “Forrest Gump”).

Copyright: © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Daniel Smith. Caption: STANLEY TUCCI as Mr. Stringer in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “THE WITCHES,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

From Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) comes the fantasy adventure Roald Dahl’s The Witches. The film stars Oscar winners Anne Hathaway (Les MisérableOcean’s 8) and Octavia Spencer (The Help, The Shape of Water), Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games films, The Lovely Bones), with Kristin Chenoweth (TV’s Glee and “BoJack Horseman”) and award-winning comedy legend Chris Rock. Newcomer Jahzir Bruno (TV’s “Atlanta”) also stars, alongside Codie-Lei Eastick (Holmes & Watson).

The Trailer 

 

The verdict 

I have really enjoyed watching this new version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. My expections were really low but I was pleasently surprised. The setting in America, the performances by Octavia Spencer and Anne Hathaway and the amazing special effects all contributed to make this as the best family movie in 2020. 

My opinion has been confirmed by 10 year old Lilly of the London Mums’ kids’ club who sent us her verdict: 

‘At times this version of The Witches reminded me of Ratatouille when the mice run away for their lives from the witches and pass through the kitchen full of Chefs.

Throughout the movie I felt I wanted to have a mouse as a pet. The mice portrayed here are so adorable, especially when they hold each other by hand whilst preparing the purple potion. 
 
There are so many funny moments like when the three mice manage to trap the witch transformed into a big rat under a cup and they show their tongue at her and laugh. We were watching the movie with our family dog Biscuit and she seemed to be barking at the Grand High Witch only. She must have looked like a real one! 
 
 
Such a feel-good  finale too with Bruno, a bigger mouse now, and the mice trio joining in a cool dance to the disco tune We are family.’
 

London Mums’ rating: 8/10 

Kids’ Club rating: 9/10

Roald Dahl’s The Witches is out in cinemas now. 

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