Review of 'The Witches'

the_witches.jpg An orphaned young boy (Jahzir Bruno as a young boy, voiced by Chris Rock as an adult and also narrator) is sent to live with is grandmother (Octavia Spencer). Slowly, the sad boy is cheered up by his effervescent grandmother who buys him a mouse to keep him company. Encountering an unusual woman in a shop his grandmother is convinced the woman was a witch who will never leave until once they have found a child they want. Frantically, the two decide to stay in a hotel where one of the grandmother's cousin works. The hotel is hosting a convention of a child protection society but it is soon apparent this is just a cover for a meeting of witches headed by the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) who have an evil plan for all children…

A fun film based on the story of the same name by Roald Dahl with some charming performances and incredible special effects, as you might expect from Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis. It is completely over the top in both the acting but also the story, dialogue and, well, everything else. This is perhaps too much as once the action starts coming it never lets up with an ending that is, interestingly, not entirely predictable. In contrast to many stories, it is the young boy who is the voice of reason here and through whom we experience the insanity he is thrown into which will likely make the film very appealing to younger audiences.

Octavia Spencer is wonderful as the grandmother whose dramatic body language and actions so fit the role against the rather appropriately constrained performance by Jahzir Bruno as the boy. Anne Hathaway is great as the Grand High Witch – completely over the top and evil as is right for the role. It was also nice to Stanley Tucci here as Mr. Stringer, the hotel manager, whose calm demeaner is pushed to breaking point as his calm and reputable hotel is slowly demolished around him.

As a bit of light entertainment, it is quite good and it definitely looks amazing with some incredible stars in the payroll but there is nothing more here with only the simplest of themes, namely, “if you believe in yourself you can do it” (yawn).

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2024-02-18

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2020

Length: 106 minutes

Genre: Fantasy

Other reviewed films by Robert Zemeckis: