‘The Witches’ (2020) Film Review

Grade: D

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Anyone who remembers watching Nicolas Roeg’s 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book The Witches at a young age could tell you how truly horrifying of an experience that is. I was never one of those kids that grew up with it, but it exceeded in gruesome practical effects and an eerie nature that could give any child nightmares. What Robert Zemeckis does with his version, however, is far from horrifying. Instead, it relies heavily on the CG that he is so used to using. I am not saying that his version is not prone to terrifying the youngest of kids, but that it is hard to beat a hideous looking witch when you have Anne Hathaway’s cartoonish wide sharp-toothed smile rendered in the silliest of effects.

The story is the same: A young boy whose parents have suffered a demise goes to live with his loving grandmother who is aware that witches exist in the world with only one purpose: To rid the world of children by turning them into the most helpless of animals, mostly mice, then crushing them. What follows is nearly a recreation of the 90’s film with only a few changes (including one that Dahl’s readers might find taken from the source). At most, The Witches is lighthearted fare, from its choice of music to the grating narration of Chris Rock recalling the time he, as a young boy (Played by Jahzir Bruno), and his grandma (Octavia Spencer) encountered their share of witches, led by the Grand High Witch (an over-the-top Hathaway relishing in the glamour of it all).

As the story goes, the witches have come to the hotel the boy and his grandmother are staying at under the guise of the RSPCC, in order to enact their evil plot. While playing with his pet mouse, the boy hears of the plan, only for the witches to discover him by sniffing him out with the Grand High Witch turning him into a mouse. Yet, he and his mouse Daisy (Voice of Kristin Chenoweth) escape with the help of a boy named Bruno (Codie-Lei Eastick), who has suffered the same fate.

There is no doubt that Zemeckis’ take on The Witches is inferior to Roeg’s film, yet what keeps me from writing it off as an abashedly awful remake is the charm it brings once the talking mice come into play and the family dynamic, which I found the least bit heartwarming. However, this is just me being generous. Kids will love watching it with their parents, yet I cannot seem to recommend it for anyone who really loved the original film. As someone who found the original average, what Zemeckis has accomplished is the ability to make me appreciate Roeg’s efforts a bit more.

The Princess and the Pilot – Mini Review

A Pleasant Enough Film

For the eighth season of #AniTwitWatches, I decided to host a movie night and the winner of the public vote to decide what to watch happened to be The Princess and the Pilot. Didn’t know much about this film going in, so wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. As you might imagine, the 2011 feature follows a princess as she is transported by a lone pilot in hostile territory during a time of war. It’s a quiet film peppered with moments of action. While not bad, it’s a bit plain.

Really, that’s the long short of things here. The Princess and the Pilot isn’t a film I regret watching, nor is it something I’d recommend you give a pass to, but I find it hard to just outright recommend. It does just enough to be spared feeling totally average, while simultaneously being so obviously constructed that it doesn’t bring much of its own flavor to the table.

The one exception to this is the dogfight sequences, or really any time the plane is utilized in the film. These kind of anime are more rare, so it’s nice to see them. However, the action sequences, though brief as they are, do deliver. The tension is there and the right amount of emphasis is placed on each moment.

As a result, the slower, more intimate parts of the film where our pilot and princess talk to each other feels appropriate. The two characters don’t really part from the “two different worlds” story, which is further contrived with the shared history between the pair, but their interactions are earned with growth felt between both of them. Still, I can’t help but feel there was more opportunity here that went ignored.

There isn’t much else to say about this one. I know I haven’t exactly painted The Princess and the Pilot as the most exciting film, but if you have a free afternoon and are looking for something fairly straightforward to watch, this’ll fit the bill just fine. Likely, you’ll enjoy yourself but find that the film is underwhelming despite the premise. Final verdict, worth the one-time watch on a rainy day.


That’ll do it for this review of The Princess and the Pilot. What did you think of the film? Share your thoughts in the comments below and consider joining me on Twitter @JS_Reviews for the next watch. If you enjoy my writing please check out my Patreon or make a one-time donation via Ko-fi utilizing the buttons below. Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ Film Review

Grade: A

Jessie Buckley in I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

If there is one thing that makes Charlie Kaufman such an interesting writer, it is his exploration of the human psyche and what makes the mind tick. Whether it be the fulfillment of desire/longing to live another life (Being John Malkovich), what we decide to do with our memories both good and bad (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the dedication of achieving an ambition (Synechdoche, New York, Kaufman’s directorial feature), or finding meaning in a life filled with monotony (Anomalisa, which Kaufman also directed). The films which Kaufman has written for may be quirky, existentialist fantasies, yet somehow, they feel as real as can be. The characters Kaufman creates are just ordinary people, though it takes a certain fantastical situation to help dig in to the recesses of their minds as to make them relatable, whether they achieve their goals or not.

The same could be said for Kaufman’s newest feature I’m Thinking of Ending Things, based on Iain Reid’s debut novel, which hit Netflix on September 4th. Like Kaufman’s earlier works, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is yet another mind-bender about the human psyche that deals with existentialism, identity, and how we perceive relationships told through the inner monologues of a young woman (Jessie Buckley) as she goes off to meet her boyfriend Jake’s (Jesse Plemons) parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) during a snowstorm. As expected from a Charlie Kaufman film, things take a turn for the psychologically bizarre.

How else can I describe I’m Thinking of Ending Things without spoiling anything? It is a film that requires you to accept the eerie bizarre reality of its protagonist’s mental state, where one event twists into a completely different outcome in the strangest of ways, until we find ourselves pulled into its deteriorating state of psychosis. I cannot guarantee that I’m Thinking of Ending Things will go down easy with the average viewer, especially with scenes that feel as if they could halt the movie in its tracks, but it will give fans of Charlie Kaufman the satisfaction of questioning everything they have seen.

‘Da 5 Bloods’ Film Review

Grade: B-

Da 5 Bloods (2020)  When it comes to political and social issues, no one is less afraid to speak his mind than Spike Lee. As controversial as his viewpoints may be for some, it is clear that the messages he is trying to send resonate with most people, making him one of the most influential living directors. ‘Da 5 Bloods’ is his newest effort in making a statement about race in the form of four elderly war veterans who return to the jungles of Vietnam to work on some unfinished business left behind by one of their own as their journey threatens to tear them apart.

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‘Artemis Fowl’ Film Review

Grade: F

 I have never seen a book-to-film adaptation so flimsy, chaotic, and silly in its execution such as Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Artemis Fowl’. Keep in mind! This is coming from someone who has never read the books by Eoin Colfer, let alone even aware of its mythology. All I knew about it was that it was centered on a child thief named Artemis Fowl and the secrets he has to unlock. I am sure that it was one of the books I have wanted to read in my childhood, but never had a chance to. A feature film was inevitable and was in development since 2001, but never saw the light of day until its first teaser hit in 2018. Though, it had been pushed back from August 2019 to August of this year, only to be released just yesterday on Disney+ due to the Coronavirus.

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‘The Willoughbys’ Film Review

Grade: B-

The Willoughbys (2020)   Like ‘The Addams Family’, ‘The Willoughbys’ is quirky both in style and sense of humor; taken straight from other dysfunctional families that have come before them, blended into a colorful, candy-coated, yarn-filled family-comedy-adventure that may be a bit predictable, but fun once you buy into its characters. Tim (Voice of Will Forte) is neurotic and wants the best for his family. His sister, Jane (Voice of singer Alessia Cara) is always singing the same melody and always asking the what-ifs of their situations, while both the Barnabys (Voice of Seán Cullen) are monotonously similar that it is hard to tell them apart, prompting their nanny (Voice of Maya Rudolph) to label one A and the other B. Though, what makes them all similar are their red-heads which come from a generation of Willoughbys before them.

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‘Galaxy Quest’ Classic Film Review

Grade: B+

Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Tim Allen in Galaxy Quest (1999)   With quarantine still in effect, it has been hard to write movie reviews lately, especially since movie theaters have been shut down and there have not been many movies to talk about. Yet, one movie that has come to mind as of late is the 1999 science-fiction spoof ‘Galaxy Quest’, which I vaguely remember from my childhood other than seeing ads for it, and watching it with my family in a motel when I was but a child. Recently, I decided to give it a much-needed re-watch for the experience, being that my mother-in-law had the film in her collection. I have to say that ‘Galaxy Quest’ holds up as a comedy as well as a love letter to the science-fiction genre, conventions, and more importantly ‘Star Trek’ (which it spoofs for the most part).

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Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl – An Overindulgent Conclusion

Well I Watched It…

You may remember back when I reviewed the Bunny Girl Senpai series that things started strong but ultimately went out on a whimper for me. There were a few reasons, most of which are discussed in that review, but one thing I didn’t dive into too deeply was in regards to where I expected the show to ultimately see its end. Well here we have it, the conclusion of the series in Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl, and the story of Shouko. Continue reading “Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl – An Overindulgent Conclusion”

‘Onward’ Film Review

  Grade: B+

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Ratzenberger, Tracey Ullman, Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna, Wilmer Valderrama, Catherine Apple, Sharon Calahan, Grey Griffin, Chris Pratt, Kori Rae, Mel Rodriguez, Dan Scanlon, Octavia Spencer, Keith Bunin, Kyle Bornheimer, Noah Klocek, Lena Waithe, Adam Habib, Jason Headley, Tom Holland, Ali Wong, and George Psarras in Onward (2020)   With the Coronavirus epidemic hitting the United States as of late, and movie theaters closing up shop as a result. Films that have been released in the past few weeks have made the move from big screens to smaller, digital formats. Pixar’s newest feature, ‘Onward’ is one of those films. However, it is streaming on Disney+ as of Friday, April 3rd, which means if you have a subscription, you do not have to purchase it on your phone. Families can sit around the TV and watch the tale of two elf brothers as they go on a quest to bring back their father for a day.

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‘Horse Girl’ Film Review

Grade: C-

Alison Brie in Horse Girl (2020)  After watching ‘Horse Girl’, there is no doubt that you will be filled with so many questions. What happened? What did it all mean? What did I get out of it? Then, you end up going on Youtube to find some analysis’s to see if anything made sense. It is clear that this is one of those independent features that makes you think in frustration, all while admiring its technique and an unhinged performance by Alison Brie.

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