The Witches (1990) vs The Witches (2020) 2-in-1 review
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, The Witches follows a young boy who, after a run-in with a coven of witches, is turned into a mouse. Now he and his grandmother must work together to outsmart the witches in order to stop their plan to rid the world of children. The original adaptation of The Witches was released in 1990 to a fairly miserable tune of just over $10 million on an unknown budget. The Robert Zemeckis directed remake was released on HBO Max this past October to a slightly higher gross despite the digital release, despite being utterly lambasted by critics and audiences alike.
Now I never watched the original Witches until, well, just a few weeks ago actually. I mean a Robert Zemeckis remake of a Henson film? Yeah this should have been primed for success. There’s just one problem, turns out when you take a terrible movie and you remake it as closely as you can but- worse, you get a terrible movie. Yeah yeah I know the 1990 film seems to have good reviews. Gosh I have NO idea why! If I’m being honest, I thought both of these movies were just awful. Now take in mind that Roald Dahl doesn’t like the 1990 film, so I’m sure the book is quite good!
So since these films are so similar, let me just off all the things I despised about both movies to start. For starters, I really don’t care about this story. Like at all. This may be a personal preference, as I don’t care for live action animal movies under most circumstances. But also don’t like films with poor act structure, abysmal pacing, and a total lack of character development. And if it were fun I’m sure I would say it’s at least a good kids movie! Except it’s also kinda terrifying. They, not it. Whatever I hate both of these movies.
So let’s get past the idea that I, myself personally, don’t care about the thing that this movie is trying to be. Let’s talk about how disappointing these films are individually. The 1990 film is produced by Jim Henson. This being the Jim Henson that already made the Muppets and two of my favorite 80s fantasy films. Why does The Witches look so bad? Like, I know its older, but the mice honestly don’t look good. On top of that the titular witches just look like the Skeksis. Fast forward to 2020 and Robert Zemeckis- Oscar winner and creator of one of my all-time favorite films Robert Zemeckis- somehow does a worse job, with out-of-date CGI instead of the apparently out-of-date practical effects. On top of that the creative choices somehow make things worse, with the design from the witches looking like those creepy smiley things from New Mutants (2020) or any number of CGI monsters. But hey why replicate something that people seem to like when you can make the entire disabled community upset apparently. Why?
The only performance I liked in the original film was Rowan Atkinson as the hotel manager Mr. Stringer. He genuinly made me laugh, and that’s what will put this film one point ahead for me. Anjelica Huston’s cult-classic performance as the Grand High Witch was overrated if you ask me. She overdoes every scene she is in, and can never settle on one accent. Something that Anne Hathaway takes and cranks up to an 11. Only this remake manages to drag Stanley Tucci and Octavia Spencer down with it. Both try hard, but they aren’t exactly given much to work with… But hey at least the original film isn’t constantly narrated by the most Southern Chris Rock you’ll ever hear. This made me Happier than ol’ Blue layin’ on the porch chewin’ on a big ol’ catfish head. (I just looked up “ridiculous southern expressions” and picked the worst one. Trust me, this isn’t far off from the film.)
Ugh I just saw that Guillermo del Toro helped write and produce the 2020 film. Whatever at least Alan Silvestri tries to save the new one with an exciting score that is so decent it doesn’t even fit the film. But hey at least its not as boring as the original! You know what, I don’t need to keep going, I don’t like these movies. Not one bit. The original is somehow slightly better, but not by much. So if you like either out of nostalgia or something, knock yourself out. I just can’t get over how many things I love from the people who made these two snooze-fests. 4/10 for the 1990 film, 3/10 for the remake.
So The Witches? Have you seen either of them? What did you think? Did you like them more than I did? (I mean that’s not hard…) Anyway be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let me know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know what you’d like us to compare next!
-review by Ryan Prince