Review: The Witches (2020)

With Halloween just around the corner this remake of the classic Witches Roald Dahl story is out now on home release.


Most people will be aware of either the Roald Dahl book or the original movie where a young boy has a run in with the Grand High Witch as she plans to turn all the children of the world into mice. This 2020 version once again tells the exact same story with very little deviation. 

This unfortunately was my big issue with this movie. I liked the book as a kid and I enjoyed the original movie whilst having recently rewatched it with my kids. Both of those still hold up by today’s standards in terms of imagination and entertainment, so I find myself wondering why Warner Brothers went to the effort of making the exact same movie?

The slight changes to the original movie are generally regarding race but have very little impact on the actual story. Our main characters are now played by black actors but the story doesn’t use this to deliver a message, it’s just a change. With this movie set during the 1960’s I thought there would have been more references to racial inequalities but it didn’t take advantage other than a couple of slight interactions between the Grand Mother and the hotel staff.

Set during the 1960’s was a puzzling choice for me. I will admit I am not a fan of remakes, especially when there is nothing wrong with the original. I don’t mind a reimaging or a reboot or even a sequel to a classic movie but I really struggle to understand why the writers chose to set this during the 1960’s. This was a straight forward remake, but set around 20 years before the original and I could not understand why. Making a movie set during a specific time zone would normally have a reason. Be that an 80’s movie because you want to use the music and the fashion or a 90’s movie because you want to focus on the drugs and nightlife. There seemed to be no reason to set this movie during the 60’s and I think that really hurt the story because it has no connection to it’s intended younger audience. 


The main star is Anne Hathaway who plays the Grand High Witch but did not put a spell on me with her performance. I found her accent to be very unconvincing as it changed that frequently throughout the movie I forgot what accent it was supposed to be. It wasn’t just the accent but her all round performance felt incredibly forced and over the top to the point it didn’t fit with the flow of the movie. I have to compare it to the original performance from Anjelica Huston and it didn’t come close.

Stanley Tucci is the hotel manager playing the role originally portrayed by Rowan Atkinson and I found Tucci to be one of the few highlights in the movie. 

Octavia Spencer and Jahzir Bruno had a nice chemistry as Grandma and Grandson and although neither shone for me they provided a fresh take on the characters. 


When I learned Robert Zemeckis was directing and writing the screenplay with Guillermo Del Toro I understandably had high expectations. As I have already mentioned this is very much a remake so the screenplay itself didn’t feel very original.

The one thing this movie did well was use the modern technology to dial up the spectacle. The special effects used for the mice was incredibly realistic and the transformation process also stepped this up a lot from the original and was one of the few outstanding and original moments.


Unfortunately this is not a new classic and  I feel this would have worked much better as a modern day retelling of this classic tale but sadly this movie lacked originality and imagination. 

I watched this via Sky Store and received no incentive to review this movie.

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