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Entertainment Robert Zemeckis' take on The Witches is a triumph

20:51  21 october  2020
20:51  21 october  2020 Source:   cityam.com

First trailer at Anne Hathaway's The Witches lands

  First trailer at Anne Hathaway's The Witches lands The Grand High Witch is on her way.In a surprise move, the new adaptation is heading to HBO Max in the US later this month, but will still be released in cinemas in the UK. It stars Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, a role made equal-parts iconic and terrifying by Anjelica Huston in the original.

  Robert Zemeckis' take on The Witches is a triumph © Provided by City AM

Readers over a certain age will remember losing sleep over the 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book The Witches, in which Anjelica Huston donned hideous prosthetics that are still unsettling to this day. It perfectly captured the spirit of Roald Dahl’s storytelling, which always towed the line between wonder and abject terror.

Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future, The Polar Express) looks to strike that balance again in this new version, initially intended for cinemas but now distributed On Demand by HBO. Moving the action from England to 1960s Alabama, Chris Rock narrates the story of Charlie (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno), a young boy grieving the loss of his parents in a car accident.

First trailer for Anne Hathaway's The Witches lands

  First trailer for Anne Hathaway's The Witches lands The Grand High Witch is on her way.In a surprise move, the new adaptation is heading to HBO Max in the US later this month, but will still be released in cinemas in the UK. It stars Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, a role made equal-parts iconic and terrifying by Anjelica Huston in the original.

a person holding a baby: Octavia Spencer in Roald Dahl’s The Witches © Provided by City AM Octavia Spencer in Roald Dahl’s The Witches

Charlie goes to live with his grandmother Agatha (Octavia Spencer), a loving but no-nonsense woman who tells him of the existence of witches, creatures who live among humans and prey on children. When one is spotted in their town, they retreat to a nearby luxury hotel. Little do they know they have arrived at the same time as a National Convention of Witches, led by the maniacal Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway), who plans to turn all children into mice.

Roald Dahl’s work is only sporadically adapted by Hollywood (this would be the 8th American film based on his children’s books, while a few others were made for British TV). So an adaptation of his work still feels like an event, and it’s a little sad that it couldn’t get a theatrical release. However, with half term approaching, there are children to be entertained. And be entertained they will.

The Witches will be available to rent via Premium Video On Demand from October 26 in the UK

  The Witches will be available to rent via Premium Video On Demand from October 26 in the UK And soon.

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Zemeckis has crafted a slick, fun family adventure that makes full use of modern effects without drowning in CGI like some of the director’s previous work. It’s funny, and setting the story in 60s Alabama gives the story a fresh tone. The opening twenty minutes are a touching story of a grandmother doing her best to drag a boy from the depths of grief with words of wisdom, home cooking, and Motown. It’s a sequence that shows the quality of Oscar winner Spencer, who becomes the type of grandparent we all wish for.

She’s the star player, doing the hard work of setting up the plot and allowing charming hero Bruno to just be a kid, rather than some precocious theatrical approximation. It’s their show for the most part, but there are a number of supporting actors also get to have fun, not least Hathaway as The Grand High Witch.

The Witches review: A bland and neutered version of Roald Dahl's book

  The Witches review: A bland and neutered version of Roald Dahl's book The Grand High Witch won't be pleased.Some people would immediately baulk at the idea that somebody else decided to adapt The Witches for the screen, but why can't a new generation get their own movie that could traumatise them no less?

Anne Hathaway et al. wearing costumes: Anne Hathaway in Roald Dahl’s The Witches © Provided by City AM Anne Hathaway in Roald Dahl’s The Witches

There’s a lot to live up to following Huston’s performance, but she understands what’s needed, which is over-the-top, malevolent insanity. Subtlety is left at check-in as she arrives in the hotel with piercing eyes and a wardrobe that would make Miranda Priestly swoon.

Her big moment is the ballroom scene, but where Huston became a slimy, pointy monster, her Grand High Witch is a digitally enhanced nightmare. With the witches looking on, her mouth contorts into a wide spiky grin, with fearsome claws and extendable arms.

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Herein lies the warning: it can be pretty scary stuff, and if your children’s limit is Trolls World Tour then this may be a little much. However, if you’re familiar with the book or the previous movie, this delivers the creepiness you’ve been expecting.

Elsewhere, Stanley Tucci delivers some light laughs as the hotel’s beleaguered manager.

There are some stylistic quirks that don’t quite come off, not least a few CGI animals that feel artificial, and there isn’t much to Charlie’s friends beyond a gag about one of them being chubby and hungry all the time. Nonetheless, this is a wickedly funny and stylish take on a children’s classic that conjures family fun with a typically dark Roald Dahl edge.

The Witches is available for Video On Demand rental from 26th October.

The post Robert Zemeckis The Witches is a dark Dahl triumph appeared first on CityAM.

Anne Hathaway apologises for disability controversy over 'The Witches' .
Anne Hathaway has apologised after the depiction of her character’s hands in The Witches film was accused of being insensitive towards disabled people. The latest adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1983 book stars Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, who has three elongated fingers on each hand. Both the novel and the 1990 film starring Anjelica Huston portrayed the witches as having five fingers. British Para swimmer Amy Marren was among those criticising director Robert Zemeckis’ recent adaptation, saying its depiction of the witches’ hands could be harmful to people – especially children – with limb impairments.

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