Based on the stage musical of the same name, Matilda (Alisha Weir) is an updated version of the classic 90s version. The story of an incredibly smart girl with a wild imagination, she’s misunderstood by her parents (Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough) and sticks to her books. It isn’t until she starts attending Crunchem Hall that she meets Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) who can see her full potential.
I’d been debating checking this out for some time now. Having actually seen the musical in London, I more or less knew what to expect going into it. I remember feeling letdown and wondered how I would fare with the movie version of it. While there were some strong points, it mostly fell flat for me.
The first bright spot in the film was it’s casting. Weir made the role of Matilda her own. I found myself rooting for her throughout and actually really enjoying her performance. I liked the fact that Lynch was for Miss Honey. The only aspect that I wish had been fleshed out some more was her relationship with Matilda. I kept comparing theses scenes to the ones that the two characters shared before. At the end of the day, however, it was Emma Thompson as Ms. Trunchbull who shined the brightest. Had she not been in the film, I probably wouldn’t have bothered watching it.
In true musical fashion, the songs and choreography scenes were well done. Matilda’s opening song of Naughty was one of my favorites, as was the Revolting Children group number at the end. The rest, unfortunately, were not very memorable. On top of that, the set locations, particularly in the scenes where Matilda would tell her stories, were aesthetically pleasing to look at.
I think my problem with the film, aside from the fact that I was already hesitant because of my prior experience with it, was the fact that I simply love the original too much. I understand that this version is closer to the source material being more on the darker side, but I grew up with the other and couldn’t see past it.