Have to join the chorus who see this as a prime candidate for a remake, a proper one with a significant budget and a script that adheres closer to Bradbury's text—although Bradbury adapted this version himself, and truthfully it's enjoyable in its own right, with Jonathan Pryce as a surprisingly menacing Mr. Dark. But the 'movie' that played in my head as I read the book was much scarier...isn't that always the case?
Awkward pacing and ellisions bear the scars of a troubled production, but this has a raw power and magical moments that go beyond the sheer oddity of Disney using all out horror imagery. It's in the haunting idea of instant gratification and regret destroying us, and for all the circus pyrotechnics, it's the clash of Robards and Pryce (and Bradbury's words) that produces one of the sublime moments in horror history
2.2 stars. A very brown adaptation of a very colourful novel. Disney seem to have insisted upon editing out the darkest, strangest scenes - including significant stretches of early CGI. Indeed, really 'Something Wicked' needed to be an animation (or directed by someone with a penchant for animation, like the young Burton) to capture the abjective-laden abstractions of its writing. A shame the Fleischers were dead.
"I had lunch with Sam Peckinpah twenty years ago and he wanted to do Something Wicked This Way Comes as a screenplay and I said "Sam, how you gonna do it?" and he said "rip the pages out of the book and stuff them in the camera." And he was right. All of my work is photogenic. I'm a child of cinema. I grew up seeing thousands of films. That goes into your blood stream..." — Ray Bradbury
This adaptation of the classic Ray Bradbury novel seemed an utter failure on release in '83. Re-watching now the picture does have its charms especially the casting of Pryce and a real darkness, especially for a Disney film. The proper adaptation remains to be made but one could do worse than a revisit to Mr. Dark's carnival.
I'm glad that Bradbury novels often include a dichotomy between the characters of lightness and darkness, tyranny and freedom etc, in the form of a brief vocal argument between the opposing philosophies. In Fahrenheit 451, it was the chief fireman vs. Guy Montag. In this film (I haven't read the book yet), there is Mr. Dark vs. the librarian, where Mr. Dark articulates his perspective on darkness.
Unjustly maligned adaptation of Bradbury's classic may not completely capture the dark magic of the book, but still does a very good job of translating it to the screen. Some of the minor characters and subplots are underdeveloped, and the young actors playing the boys aren't the best, but they're backed up by a great cast of character actors and some impressive special effects. Definitely worth another look.