Movie Review – The Witches (2020)




Unfortunately, the magic of The Witches (2020) stops once its big spell is cast.


The Witches (2020) Review: 4 thumbs-up and 4 thumbs-down.
Snappy Movie Review | The Witches (2020)

The Witches (2020) Synopsis

After an encounter with a scheming witch in a grocery store, an orphaned boy is taken by his grandmother to a swanky hotel for refuge. To their dismay, this instead lands them smack in the middle of a witches’ conference and a heinous plot to transform all children into squishable mice. Worse, the boy soon becomes an early victim and the target of the head witch too.

Snappy Review

Unlike The Craft: Legacy, I do remember when I watched the first movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. It was on TV, in the mid-90s. I greatly loved the show too.

Why did I love it? Oh, Anjelica Huston, of course. The magic and the wicked glee too. And the truly unforgettable climax.

This Robert Zemeckis remake retains the darker flesh of that classic masterpiece, and included several character updates to suit modern tastes. On that, I have to say the macabre delight in the first half of the show was sinfully delightful. Anne Hathaway, in a role positively perfect for her, was sheer indulgence to watch as well.

Once the true adventure begins, though, the magic steadily seeps from the show; this despite an extended climax. On that, I can only attribute it to a lack of, what’s a good word, abandonment?

Notably, the all-important dining room scene completely lacks the hysteria and implied gore in the 90s version. Even the transformation effects are markedly subdued and underplayed.

Why was this so? I guess it’s to avoid controversy, this being targeted at younger viewers after all. Which then makes it truly ironical that …



Criticism by Disability Advocates

As much as I hate to, The Witches (2020) cannot be reviewed without a mention of the criticism rained onto it by disability advocates.

Specifically, how the movie demonizes limb differences and so on.

To be clear, I wouldn’t have sensed this had I not read the news reports beforehand. After the show, though, I realised, yeah. However much I want to treat a movie as pure fiction, productions targeting impressionable audiences need to be more careful with unspoken and unintended messages.

But I’d say this too. Dahl wrote this story in the 80s and like many other works from past eras, it was conceptualised in the ambiance of the times. With certain (newer) sensibilities and taboos openly disregarded.

It’s not excusable, of course. To a great extent, I felt Zemeckis and his crew ought to have predicted fallout too, given Dahl’s novel was hardly free of controversy.

In the end, I feel it’s a question of whether some literary works are no longer appropriate for current consumption. This itself is a question that feels “wrong,” I’m sure you know what I mean. But it’s a thorny subject that entertainment producers would ultimately have to confront.




Watch the trailer here.


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Summary
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The Witches (2020)
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Scribbling Geek
the authorScribbling Geek
Geek, gamer, writer, movie lover, photographer, and occasional graphic artist. I like to consider myself a one-stop content creator of sorts. But the truth is, I obsess over too many hobbies.

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