ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller reviews what’s on the small screen while the cinemas are closed, and settles back on the sofa to see whether The Witches is a magical remake…

The Anjelica Huston-led version had a raw charm – aided by Jim Henson’s special effects – but sadly highly-acclaimed Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis just seems to be going through the motions with this modern-era by-the-numbers upgrade on Roald Dahl’s iconic story.

Chris Rock’s narrator tells the story of Hero Boy (Jahzir Bruno), a timid bereft orphaned young boy, who goes to live with his Grandma (The Help’s Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer) in 1968 Alabama – after his parents died in a car crash.

Slowly he comes out of his shell when he acquires a new pet mouse called Daisy, but then his world is once again thrown into turmoil when he is enticed by a witch in a supermarket – but runs back to his Grandma.

After telling her the story, she reveals that witches are indeed real – recalling the tale of her best friend Alice who was turned into a chicken – and never leave once they’ve found a child.

But when Hero Boy sneaks under the stage to hear the witches dastardly plans to turn all children into mice, he and fellow hotel guest Bruno (Codie-Lei Eastick) get turned into rodents – and team up with Hero Boy’s pet mouse Daisy (who is actually named Mary, voiced by Kristin Chenoweth) and Grandma to try and steal the potions to find a cure. And to put a stop to Grand High Witch’s nefarious scheme in the process.

For a big-budget blockbuster originally meant for the cinema it lacks that certain magnetic charm to linger in the memory too long – and some of the witch transformation scenes definitely push the boundaries of PG for little ‘uns as well.

Which leaves these witches struggling to cast a truly magical spell.

Rating: 2.5/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: Octavia Spencer, Anne Hathaway, Jahzir Bruno, Stanley Tucci, Codie-Lei Eastick & The Voices Of Kristin Chenoweth & Chris Rock

Running Time: 1 Hr 46 Mins

Director: Robert Zemeckis

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