The Witches (2020)

Given the genuinely horrid special effects that completely litter this alleged adaptation of Roald Dahl’s legendary family classic, it’s hard to reconcile that director Robert Zemeckis is the same Robert Zemeckis who made the “Back to the Future” movies, not to mention “Forrest Gump.” Unfortunately, this is more of the Zemeckis of the last fifteen years, what with his misbegotten full-length CGI abominations like “A Christmas Carol” and “Beowulf” that mistake loudness for excitement. Everything here is cranked up to eleventeen from the get-go: Why have children turn into mice when they could blast through the air first? Why have Anne Hathaway only lord over her minions metaphorically when she could literally float above them while shrieking every line of dialogue like she’s in an amateur production of “The Wizard of Oz” instead of an Oscar-winning actress? Hey, since there are talking mice in the source material, why not shoehorn some “Stuart Little” into the proceedings, oh and don’t forget Kristin Chenoweth, the kids just love her! It’s all just so freaking loud, obnoxious and downright pointless that it becomes a legitimate chore to sit through. Poor Octavia Spencer does her best as the grandmother but the movie’s only interested in her when she’s talking about witches (which she knows a lot about because… reasons), or ominously coughing in case the narrative needs a dramatic jolt once in a while. The only thing about the movie that works even a little is Spencer’s chemistry with onscreen grandson Jahzir Bruno, but by the halfway point the movie keeps them separated more often than not, so even that small glimmer of hope fades fast. All in all, this is just the absolute worst case scenario for an adaptation/remake of a beloved property: It’s clear no one involved in the shaping of the movie has any interest or respect in the source material, and everything is just louder and dumber.

Rating: ★ (out of 5)

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