I wouldn’t say it’s good, but it’s definitely great.
Foto: Warner Bros. Entertainment
What you need to know about Anne Hathaway’s accent The witches is that it cannot be contained on a nation’s borders – it is designed to jump from region to region, often within a single exchange. Sometimes she rolls them rIt’s with the exaggerated trill of a Spanish teacher doing a demonstration for a class. Sometimes she curls her vowels so that they fall somewhere between an actual Scandinavian accent and that of the Swedish chef. Sometimes she leans forward briskly v sounds like w‘s, à la your classic German stereotype “I have opportunities to get you to talk”. If her character, the Grand High Witch, informs the hotel manager, played by Stanley Tucci, that the soup should contain “no goose bumps”, this is completely contrary to geography. He asks her to repeat the request. After sneering, she says, “Did I stutter?” He finally comes to understand that she is referring to garlic, but has chosen to pronounce the word as if it were an entire phrase on its own.
The Grand High Witch is said to have “hatched on the frozen tundras of Norway”. It could be argued that this delivery is meant to reflect both that and the existence of a being who has spent their long, evil life traveling around the world issuing commands to various blankets hidden from the public. But that doesn’t do justice to how many active choices Hathaway puts into each sentence. Hathaway has made a lot of unnecessary, unfair criticism of her seriousness as a theatrical kid in the past, but what she’s doing in this new Robert Zemeckis film is performing without ever getting into acting. Hathaway’s Grand High Witch is scary because she’s got a poison-wide throat and claw-shaped limbs that elongate Street fighter Character. But it has no center, no character – it is nothing more than a collection of large line readings and ready-to-use digital effects. Zemeckis can’t bring Hathaway’s energy to an end because the movie he made is so strangely aimless. The witches is a new version of the Roald Dahl children’s book from 1983, which was previously adapted by Nicolas Roeg in 1990, but is not exactly an update.
Instead, it feels like a project that may have had something on its mind, but was then reworked into something more nebulous. Zemeckis co-wrote the script Schwarz Creators Kenya Barris and Guillermo del Toro, who have extensive experience bringing together historical details and genre elements, but only occasionally do you feel the touch of both. The story was transplanted to Alabama, where the unnamed protagonist (played by Jahzir Bruno and voiced by Chris Rock as the adult narrator) lives with his grandmother (Octavia Spencer) after his parents were killed in a car accident. But the specificity of the film’s period – 1968, a moment of major political action, rioting, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the passing of the Civil Rights Act – is so random about what’s happening on screen that it is mystifying. Most of the time, Grandma allows her to dance to the Four Tops’ Teach Out I’m Be There to cheer up her grieving grandchild. Grandma, an embodiment of the unshakable love and wisdom of popular healers, gradually succeeds in luring the main character out of his grief, just in time for him to come into the store with a snake-wielding, child-hating witch.
The witches holds a lot of the traditions that Dahl, the ancient anti-Semite, presented in his novel. But even if grandma and grandchildren flee to hide in a fancy waterfront hotel with the boy’s pet mouse in tow, they can’t really figure out the mix of macabre and cozy that made Dahl so good. The witches who happened to have booked the same hotel for their meeting (under the name of the International Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) are grotesque in a way that will startle some tender young fantasies with their unnatural grins and sore scalps. But they’re just monsters – they never capture the feeling that Dahl had, and that the Roeg version came close to, of being a kid just beginning to understand that not all adults are trustworthy. As in the book, the main character is discovered by the witches when he is hiding in the hotel ballroom, where he is playing with his pet. And like in the book, he is given the potion the witches want to use for all the children, one that turns him into a mouse. But the adventure that follows doesn’t capture Dahl’s apologetically dark dizziness, even if it sticks to something close to its original ending. It just feels flat, even when using the computer generated animals it relies on. It is an adaptation with no direction or purpose, with an unwieldy but deeply engaged performance at its center. At least Hathaway seems to be having fun. Somebody should!
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