The Witches review: Anne Hathaway is ‘delightfully camp’ in ‘flat’ Roald Dahl adaptation

Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will start in8CancelPlay now

Our free email newsletter sends you the biggest headlines from news, sport and showbiz

Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy noticeInvalid Email

Can director Robert Zemeckis do justice to one of children’s author Roald Dahl’s most classic tales?

After the tragic death of his parents in Alabama in 1968, a young Boy (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno) goes to live with his kind and loving Grandma (Octavia Spencer) who helps him to embrace life again after the tragedy.

Grandma also teaches the Boy to be wary of Witches who he encounters in everyday life, as she has experience facing-off with these evil creatures.

However, when the pair go to stay at a fancy hotel, the Boy unwittingly stumbles upon a conference of witches, led by the malevolent Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway).

Consequently, the Boy and an English child named Bruno Jenkins (Codie-Lei Eastick) find themselves turned into mice by the evil hag.

Can they somehow return to normal and also defeat the evil coven of witches?

Anne Hathaway's Grand High Witch leads the coven of nasties in Robert Zemeckis' The Witches
(Image: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Borat 2 fans 'roaring with laughter' at Sacha Baron Cohen's 'true masterpiece'

Read More
Related Articles


  • On the Rocks review: Sofia Coppola reunites with 'top-form Bill Murray'

Well, despite a rather nonsensical prologue and exposition-heavy narration by Chris Rock, the early scenes of Zemeckis’ adaptation are actually quite strong, offering a genuinely sweet relationship between our hero and his grandmother, played with reliable warmth and sass by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer.

Sadly, proceedings go downhill once the film moves into the central conflict as the coven of witches is introduced into the plot, albeit without any true menace or atmosphere.

Children are transformed into mice as they face-off with the Witches
(Image: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Octavia Spencer's Grandma helps the mice-children in the new film
(Image: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Rebecca on Netflix explained as Lily James' heroine haunted by husband's dead wife

As the Grand High Witch, Oscar winner Anne Hathaway brings a campy, extreme, and knowing performance that makes the film’s scenes with her instantly watchable – even if the accent she’s doing does go somewhat all over the place.

However, the cartoonish special effects coupled with a more comedic take on the witches serve to extract any sense of danger or insidiousness present from Dahl’s story nor the previous 1990 adaptation which undoubtedly gave children nightmares.

Jahzir Bruno plays our Hero Boy in The Witches
(Image: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Jahzir Bruno as Hero Boy, Octavia Spencer as Grandma and Stanley Tucci as Mr Stringer in The Witches
(Image: PA Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Daniel Smith)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Lily James romps on beach with hunky Armie Hammer in steamy Netflix film Rebecca

There is not a major sense of threat here and proceedings get more and more repetitive as the children attempt to flee the witches in mouse form, while the accompanying dialogue does not feel particularly natural or witty enough and merely serves to shuffle the plot along.

Sadly, the finale fails to carry much satisfaction despite the colourful visual style on show. Also, despite keeping a more faithful ending compared to the previous adaptation, exchanges which should be so much more poignant fail to prove touching or truly melancholic.

Even a devilishly fun turn from Anne Hathaway can't save this new take on the Roald Dahl classic
(Image: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Summer of 85 review: Francois Ozon directs 'earnest coming-of-age romance'

Ultimately, despite a fun turn from Anne Hathaway and an always reliable Octavia Spencer, the new adaptation of The Witches fails to do justice to the Roald Dahl classic.

Verdict

The Witches is a rather flat adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic of the same name, but does boast a delightfully camp performance from Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch.

The Witches is available on digital and video-on-demand on October 26, 2020.

What is your favourite Roald Dahl adaptation? Let us know in the comments below.

You may also like...