Adapted from the book "The Witches" by Roald Dahl, comes this delightfully wicked but entertaining and enjoyable fantasy adventure film.
Roald Dahl gave us so many brilliant books, many have given rise to film adaption's such as Matilda, and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. All of his books have his own unique style and magic, and The Witches has always been one of my favourite Dahl stories. I'm glad to say that despite been somewhat different to his book at times, this film adaptation is nothing less than brilliant.
A young boy called Luke (played by Jasen Fisher) is taken by his Grandmother to England after his parents are in a car crash. His Grandmother starts to tell him stories of Witches, their powers, how they find or rather smell children, and more importantly how he can spot them. She also tells him the story of her childhood friend Erica, who fell victim to a Witch. Soon after this, while playing in his tree house he is approached by a woman, thanks to his Grandmother he quickly recognises the trademark purple eyes of a witch and escapes. On his birthday Luke's Grandmother falls ill, and her doctor recommends a holiday to recover. Soon they both arrive at a seaside hotel where he and another boy called Bruno discover somewhat to their own misfortune that the hotel is not only crawling with Witches, but that Grand High Witch herself is there. She has an evil plan involving "Formula 86" to turn all of the children in the world in to mice. It's all up to Luke, his Grandmother, and Bruno to stop them.
The film has a great plot, that's naturally backed up by a wonderful script and brilliant characters. Rowan Atkinson plays a convincing if somewhat different role than what we would normally associate with him, as the hotel manager. Anjelica Huston was great as the Grand High Witch, and was the perfect casting choice. Acting from all other's in the main cast is pretty much brilliant. The character of Bruno in the film does come off as being perhaps a bit too whinny and at times it seems unnatural, but his snobbish parents are brilliantly played, and they have some great scenes together. Luke and his Grandmother have a plausible enough relationship on screen and work well together in their attempt to defeat the witches.
The witches in the film are amazing. When they all start to remove their masks, wigs, and shoes, you'll be disgusted at the creatures beneath it all, while at the same time appreciating the wonderful make-up and attention to detail. I liked the ironic that the witches were using the Royal Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Children charity as a smoke screen. The mice (or were they actually rat's) in the film are great, they were wonderful to watch running around the hotel, under carpets, in elevators, around a kitchen, and so forth.
The film contains everything from humour, action, to scares, and some horror, making it appeal to both children and adults alike.
There are no special features at all on the DVD which was disappointing. In the case of this film I would have loved a behind the scenes look at how they created the Witches. Perhaps one day we will get a Special Edition release of this film with such, until then I'm perfectly happy to enjoy the film for what it offers.
Despite its parental guidance rating, the film is quite fighting at times. The Witches could easily scare, and some scenes such as one near the ending may be a bit too much for some. So I would advice caution if allowing younger children to watch. But overall definitely a film that's worth watching.