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Criticism | Anne Hathaway steals the show in fun, unpretentious ‘Halloween Convention’ remake

Roald Dahl may not seem familiar at first glance, but his works were certainly part of the infancy of many – not just older generations, but through reinterpretations of his classics today. The English novelist is quite simply the spirit behind the most fantastic and captivating tales of the last century, including “Matilda”, “The Fantastic Chocolate Factory” and “The Good Giant Friend”. However, one of its stories has remained haunting for readers since its launch in the 1980s: “Witches Convention”. The plot, centered around a clan of witches who hate children and come together to turn them all into rats, was first brought to theaters in 1990 and put Anjelica Huston in the spotlight as the big, creepy witch and dangerous, supreme commander of a horde of horrible creatures who wanted to wreak havoc on the whole world.

It will not take long for this masterpiece of cinema, revisited several times by fans of the genre or even passionate about the mythology in question, to obtain a new version for the contemporary. Once adopted by Guillermo del Toro, Robert Zemeckis ended up taking over the project, creating a unique perspective – as he did with ‘Back to the Future’, ‘The Ghosts of Scrooge’ and ‘The Polar Express ” – despite the slippage in some amateur misunderstandings and dated formulas. The result, despite the obstacles encountered along the way, fulfills the promise of fun through cutting-edge cast and charming, vibrant visuals that in no time at all – and which are guided by the wonderful and chilling surrender of Anne Hathaway in as an antagonist.

The story gets a little closer to the original novel and, at the same time, is careful in maintaining the essence of the feature film directed by Nicolas Roeg thirty years ago. Note the inspirations that Zemeckis drains from both the first cinematic reinterpretation, as well as the sequences in which children are turned into rats, but also the way he seeks to honor Dahl’s legacy by reshaping the witch aesthetic. (opting for a cleaner and more outside the almost surreal standards of the previous film) and maintaining the anonymity of the main hero (who had earned the name Luke in 1990). Here, Jahzir Kadeem Bruno plays the main character, an eight-year-old boy named Charlie who lost his parents in a car accident and moved in with his grandmother, Agatha (Octavia Spencer) – only to find his troubles were far away. to be completed.

When Charlie first encounters one of the evil witches, his grandmother tells him everything he knows about them, especially because he lost his best friend as a child to a hunt. unending. They hide their body shape (claws instead of toes, cropped feet, stretched mouth with sharp teeth and a big bald spot full of irritations) with masks, a wig and an incredible sense of beauty, deceiving them. children with bewitched candy just to pounce when you understand. The two decide to flee to an untraceable hotel – but they encounter a legion of witches who are ready to take the next step in their damnable plan.

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For those unfamiliar with the story, the boy is picked up by one of the witches and turned into a rat alongside another named Bruno (Codie-Lei Eastick) and his mouse, Daisy, who turns out to be a bewitched child named Mary (Kristin Chenoweth). The trio, determined to put an end to all this madness, turn to the sick Agatha, who feels guilty for everything that has happened and also joins them to find a cure – and, contrary to what we are told. could hope for, the happy ending through an acceptance that things don’t always turn out the way we want them to, but as they are predestined to be. In other words, children do not return to human form, but stay like rats and use their experience to prevent other young people from falling into the clutches of witches.

Ultimately, the film is quite enjoyable – but it doesn’t strike all over the place. As Zemeckis’ glorious artistic vein transpires once again in an almost theatrical setting, filled with vibrant colors, expressionist mimicry practices and a whimsical musical score signed by Alan Silvestri (who uses mickey-mousing and alleged redundancy with a pure nostalgia) stage), the importance of the characters is thwarted when the script decides to channel all the efforts towards key moments – that is, the fragmented parts are better than the whole: Hathaway makes a great work that, while it doesn’t quite reach Huston’s feet, puts its own characteristics on a complex and formidable character, with interesting and sometimes forced manners. Spencer also takes center stage, though he’s overshadowed by his colleagues – and Stanley Tucci, playing hotel manager Mr. Stringer, is as useless as the throngs of extras spilling out into the hallways.

Witches (2020)
CR: Warner Bros. Pictures

Even forgettable, the remake of “ Witches Convention ” has momentary significance for such an obscure time as the one we are going through: without wanting to say more than it can do, it is fun and primarily aimed at a childish audience who deserves to know this classic and tragicomic story – and understand its sublime messages of empathy and caring.

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