‘The Witches’ movies – 2020 and 1990 versions

I’ve read about how some people don’t consider the new remake of ‘The Witches’ which was released last month, as good as the classic 1990 original.

(Oh my God, that’s 30 years ago! How time flies. And I was only 17! *Gasp*).

I vaguely thought the same after watching the new remake. But after watching the classic one again, I was a bit surprised to find I feel it’s not as good as how I remembered it! Nostalgia struts around wearing rose-tinted glasses, I guess.

Of course, 30 years is a long time and I was a different person as a 17-year-old. Some of my tastes and viewpoints have changed and that contributes to how I feel about the classic movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the original to bits, and while Anne Hathaway did a great job as the Grand High Witch in the new remake, I still prefer Angelica Huston’s iconic performance in the original. But comparing the two versions overall? The new remake feels to be better, in my opinion, due to several factors such as Octavia Spencer’s performance in the grandmother role, and the set decoration which I find much more beautiful and interesting to look at.

Here’s my opinion about which version I prefer with regards to specific parts of the movies:

  • Grandmother role: 2020 remake.
    • Octavia Spencer has tons of talent and movie charisma and is incredibly watchable in every single role she does, and her work here is no exception.
  • The grandson / Luke role: 1990 original
    • Referring to the role itself, I feel the nerdy Harry Potter-like character from the original is more fun and child-like. That lightens the children’s movie a little bit more which helps because both versions are actually pretty scary.
    • As for the child actors portraying the role, they did an equally fantastic job.
    • I find Chris Rock‘s voice as the narrating grandson in the remake annoying and distracting, but only because I can’t detach his distinctive voice from the visual of the zebra role he did in the ‘Madagascar‘ animation movies.
  • Hotel Owner role: 1990 original
    • Both the role itself and the actor who played him in the original, Rowan Atkinson, were better than in the remake.
    • Stanley Tucci is a wonderful actor who I love and is usually fantastic, but the role in the remake is quite boring and does not deserve him.
  • Grand High Witch role: 1990 original
    • Angelica Huston is clearly the better Grand High Witch, in my opinion. She hams it up yet somehow she is perfectly at ease and natural. I think this is also why her Morticia Addams portrayal in The Addams Family movies is also so perfect and iconic, just flawless, and so, so much loved.
    • Anne Hathaway‘s version is certainly entertaining, but her portrayal is more cartoony and over-the-top, but in a fun way.
  • Set design: 2020 remake
    • The ‘Grand Orleans Imperial Island Hotel‘ in Alabama is stunning. The room the Grand High Witch occupies with its balcony is particularly fun to look at, featured in important scenes including the Grand High Witch’s final appearance.
    • The ‘Excelsior Hotel‘ in England in the original is beautiful and charming too, just not as much as the hotel in Alabama.
    • I also love Grandma’s House and town in Alabama much more than I do the one in Norway in the original, although beautiful too.
  • Mouse pet (Daisy/Mary): 2020 remake
    • Called Daisy initially, the talking pet in the remake is a great character and adds substantially to the fun.
    • In the original, the pets can’t talk and are not important supporting characters like Daisy is.
  • Special effects and make-up: 1990 original
    • The 30-year difference between the two movies means the remake features more polished effects technically, but the original comes across as more winningly charming to me. Jim Henson‘s puppetry is still wonderful to watch after all these years.
    • The Grand High Witch’s ‘real’ face in the original is also more morbidly fascinating to me.
    • If I’m a parent, I would be far more concerned with the ‘real’ face of the Grand High Witch in the remake. The one in the original is also very scary, but somehow it has more of a ‘fantasy’ element (if that makes sense), whereas in the remake it’s what nightmares are made of, to me.
  • Deformed 3-claw hands of the witches: 1990 original (for not having them!)
    • This reportedly did not feature in either the book (which I have not read) or the original movie, and was added to the remake, resulting in backlash from some people with physical impairments, who are concerned it may cause people with physical impairments to be seen as abnormal or scary.
  • The Grand High Witch’s end: 2020 remake
    • The remake’s version is far more thrilling and fun. Also, I can’t help but notice she’s not shown actually dead/defeated. Is this to pave the way for her appearance in a sequel, in case the movie does well? For years now it seems that everything must have sequels and trilogies! So more money can be squeezed out from them, why not! LOL
  • Ending of Story: 1990 original
    • I much prefer the relatively simpler and sweeter way the original ends. A happy ending with a little surprising twist for the character development of one of the witches.
    • The remake’s ending seems to be very sequel-friendly, so I won’t be surprised if there is one in the future.

I’ve just changed my mind! After considering the points above, I now feel that, although it’s not as good as I remember it, the original from 1990 is still better than the 2020 remake, overall. Nostalgia wins! :-)

Much more importantly, the original also does not feature limb differences in its villains, that may cause kids and adults suffering from such physical conditions in real life to feel bad, or worse, made fun of by other kids.

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The following is a cool and interesting video comparing the two versions:

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Related:

  • BBC.com – The Witches – Backlash over film’s portrayal of limb impairments – 4 November 2020

Les Misérables (2012)

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Russell Crowe as Javert. Image from memegenerator.net. Click to go there.

Some thoughts on the movie which I saw on DVD last night.

It was sadly disappointing, in so many ways.

I first saw Les Mis on the stage with my partner many years ago, when the show visited Singapore and played at the Kallang Theatre. Gosh now that I think about it, that was about twenty years ago. And we so fell in love with it that we quickly decided to see it again while it was still in Singapore, and convinced two friends to join us. Over the years until today I still enjoy the beautiful songs from the show. My favourite is ‘Stars’ sung by the character Javert. Yup, not One More Day or Bring Him Home, not I Dreamed a Dream or On My Own, even though I love them too plus many others, but Stars, haha.

Anne Hathaway as Fantine performed as greatly as the reviews say she did. She really is the best thing in this movie. To be honest I never cared much for the role of Fantine in the story, but I remember another actress also did a brilliant job in that role. The gorgeous but frequently under-rated Uma Thurman, in the 1998 non-musical version of Les Mis. Frankly when I read Anne was onboard in the latest 2012 version, I don’t know why but I immediately assumed she was going to do Eponine, which I believe Anne would totally do a great job with as well. She would pull off a slightly haggard but of course still beautiful street urchin convincingly.

I can’t say the same for Samantha Barks who played Eponine. I felt her acting was stiff and while her singing was okay-good, it was not great. Her On My Own was quite bland, certainly not anguished enough. Her Eponine was too precious and princessy. And to make it worse, even her make-up artist and hairstylist did a terrible job on her role. I mean, my goodness, her teeth were so nice and white, and even her eyebrows were nicely and perfectly shaped. She looked way too healthy and pretty for someone forced by her parents to join them living a life of crime on the streets, conning people. I’m nit-picking maybe but Eponine, the tragic under-dog in love, is a role in the musical I love very much and it’s surprising and annoying and sad at how badly she was done here.

Russell Crowe was terrible. Damn it pains me to say that. I love that guy; I loved every single performance of his I have seen before, so this is the first one ever which I didn’t like. His Javert is unfortunately bad as I’ve read it is. I didn’t want to believe it, but yeah, now I understand why all the howls about it. Well I didn’t hate it, and through his singing I tried telling myself, “That’s just his interpretation. Every actor has a right to interpret the material his own way”, but to be honest I think he did suck in this. And he screwed up Stars, dammit! That was a beautiful song! My favourite! I feel bad for him because he’s incredibly good in all his other roles before, and also of course because he’s so damn hot. I just don’t understand why he’s so flat in Les Mis. Yes, Javert is strong and stoic and unflinching, but that doesn’t mean he has to be so boring and colourless. Then, in his last scene, Russell finally started to turn it on, and flashes of the greatness he’s capable of started to shine through in that scene, but oh it was much too late by then.

Why oh why wasn’t he cast in Mamma Mia! (2008) as one of the three potential fathers. Then people could’ve known his singing range, like we now know the singing abilities of those three actors in that movie, then maybe he wouldn’t be cast in this. Javert deserved so much more. Oh poor Javert. If this movie was non-musical like the 1998 one, Russell would probably be perfect for the role. Well, fellow Australian (and fellow Oscar winner!) Geoffrey Rush did that Javert, and he did a fantastic job with it.

Hugh Jackman was breathtaking as Valjean. I don’t believe I’ve heard him sing before, and his talent is impressive. This is also the most dramatic role that he’s done that I’ve seen. I just realised I’ve never been a big fan of Hugh, despite the X-Men trilogy and many other movies I’ve seen him in, until now. I mean yeah sure as eye candy he’s incredibly good-looking and smoulderingly sexay for sure, but as an actor I just wasn’t interested in him as say, Russell, who I’ve been a big fan of for years. But Hugh was totally mersmerizing in this, and now I certainly look forward to catching him again in other roles, singing or not, and especially dramatic ones.

If it wasn’t for Hugh and Anne Hathaway, I would wish I hadn’t seen this Les Mis. Now anxiously plugging into iTunes to listen to those songs again, to be reminded and be assured of their timeless greatness, of my love for them.

Here are also a couple of fun videos I came across on YouTube. (Note: contain spoilers.)