Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
We have the books that shaped many childhoods (mine included), and then we have the 90’s film that features some incredibly spooky scenes that still resonate today. This film switched up the formula, it makes the movie a bit more accessible, and this results in a completely different experience. It isn’t necessarily a bad experience, as I believe children could feel the same about this as we did the 90’s version, but I keep asking the question, “has Zemeckis lost his magic?” Welcome to Marwen did not work for me, and now we have this film that leans way to heavily on the wacky tone. It also features lackluster cgi alongside some solid looking effects. It’s an overall mixed bag in the visual department, and while something like the recreation of “that scene” wasn’t bad, there was still something missing.
Hathaway embraces the role, and even though her accent was suspect, her performance was not. The shining beacon is Octavia Spencer, as she leads us on this adventure and makes that grandson/grandmother relationship semi-exciting. The main issue is how the film tackles the important themes from the book. Whether it’s mortality or acceptance of circumstances, everything just feels a bit too easy. It’s extremely surface-level (to the point where it feels lazy) and it makes you think of that “Zemeckis-jab” scene from I’m Thinking of Ending Things. It’s still a film that gets you in the Halloween spirit, and the witches themselves were giving it their all. The story just never hooked me as intended, but families should be able to have some fun with it. It’s a disappointment on my end (unfortunately).