Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Welcome to Marwen) is a writer-director-producer whose films have always caught my attention even if I haven’t always rushed to see them. Strangely enough Zemeckis is not the one who got me onto this film but three members of the cast did. Octavia Spencer (Truth Be Told, Hidden Figures, The Help), Stanley Tucci (Spotlight, Wild Card, Mockingjay), and Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables, The Dark knight Rises). The combination of these three, particularly the first two is enough for me to at least read the premise.
But since it’s based on Roald Dahl‘s “The Witches“ I’m in. The cast also includes Chris Rock (Fargo, 2 Days in New York) in a voiceover capacity as an older Jahzir Bruno (The Oath, Atlanta), Codie-Lei Eastick (Holmes & Watson) and Kristin Chenoweth (American Gods) round out the cast.
Premise: In 1960s Alabama, a young orphaned boy stumbles across a coven of child-hating witches, while staying with his grandmother at a hotel, and gets transformed into a mouse by the Grand High Witch.
Review: Before the first trailer all I knew was that Tucci, Hathaway and Spencer are in it, but once I saw the trailer I was floored. The cast caught my attention but Hathaway as a stylish classy lady with a Glasgow smile further tipped the scale.
The movie got the fun quirky tone mixed with Dahl’s books right. It’s dark and a little f’ed up. The story is captivating, it’s almost like a true story with a sheen of fantasy. I totally recognized Roald Dahl’s style but I could also see the input that Zemeckis, Del Toro, and Barris added. It’s still a children movie though, entertaining for adults but very much made for children. Actions have consequences here and when you think about it The Witches is darker than most children movie are. There’s no resolution in this film, or to be accurate there’s no ‘everything went back to normal ending’ but more of we’re doing the best with what we got. They’re making lemonade with the lemmons they ended up with.
I enjoyed the level of details in this movie. Like I mentioned before Hathaway’s Grand Witch Glasgow smile is one but also her gloves, they make the tip of her fingers look like claws, which is what she has underneath. Octavia Spencer has a much bigger role than I expected her to have and I’m here for it. She’s brilliant striking the right tone for a spooky children movie. For a film aimed at young children, there are not many of them, they presence are felt more than seen but it works.
The Witches is a fun family movie that doesn’t shy away from the darkness while not being too extreme with it. It’s very dark but the most unnerving aspects of it managed to be subtle.
If you’re interested in the source material, it would be a huge help if you get it from the link below: