The Manchurian Candidate

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Hobbit, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    I went tonight to this thriller remake of a movie about a global conspiracy to take over the White House, and I must say that I was delightfully surprised by much of the movie, which exceeded my expectations...not a hard feat considering the reputation of Hollywood and the fact that it's a political movie in an election year. I give it a 4/5 stars, and here's why.

    First off, let's hit the bare bones. The movie was well done. The tension was deliciously Hitchcockian, substituting in pure suspense where other movies might have gone for action or horror. While the plot has many somewhat predictable turns, the way the movie builds the tension is so well done, you'll find your heart racing on adrenaline, whether or not you've successfully predicted the plot. Denzel Washington and Liev Shreiber were on their usual 'A' game, with acting that made the characters seem very real, and while I have no basis for comparison, Meryl Streep also delivered a wonderful performance. The cinematography was also quite good, capturing the feel of the moment. The music was of top quality, too. Although I'd not recommend anybody listen to it on the road, the dull, creepy music helped build the feeling of desperation around the man who was uncovering this conspiracy. The movie itself was a great practice in good, old fashioned suspense, building audience fear without excessive violence. I applaud the director and producers for that.

    Now, with all that said and done, let's get down to the details. While the movie itself is good, a little more effort into the details could have turned it from a good-great movie to something that bordered on "Best Picture" material. While the plot is great, it involves a little more suspension of disbelief than many. Sure, the idea of this conspiracy is feasible, but the technology used to acomplish it is a little on the wild side. There's talk of brain implants and other wierd technology, when reducing it to perfectly believable hypnotism could have made it more believable. Another thing that bugs me is attention to detail. When showing fake broadcasts, I can understand if they couldn't get the major tv stations (NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, etc.) to allow the use of their logos, but they could at least have made the things look predictable. When showing the news stories, it's just like in real life where, on the screen, you see the main story being told either by anchors, interviews, or video clips with the headline printed below. Below that is the standard news ticker and to the right is the station logo. Now, would it have really cost them that much to put the logo to the left, like every other station? Probably not, but that's one of the last things I noticed. The first thing I noticed is that, unlike on real news channels, the news ticker was repeating everything said above in brief, almost like a closed caption on a budget. There was also no clock or stock update, not even so much as a DOW, Nasdaq, and S&P update (at least I don't remember one, tell me if I'm wrong). It's details like these that subtract from the illusion the movie sets up, and they're not that hard to correct.

    The third topic I'll discuss is political spin. I must admit that I went into this movie looking for spin. You'd be dumb not to, it being a political movie in an election year. However, there really isn't too much spin. They never mention any political party by name, although it's obvious to anyone politically active that these guys (the stars) are Democrats, especially after they talk about securing the "black, immigrant, and women" votes, and you can see parallels between the characters and real life figures. Shrieber looks a lot like a cross between Kerry and Edwards, came from out of nowhere to get the VP nomination, and is partially (though not half as much as Kerry) riding a war record (this time from Kuwait). His mom (Streep) is a bit like Hillary, very vocal and abrasive. The opponent he ousts is much like a calm Dean, just a little too lib for the party. All told, however, the only spin I saw was in the fake news reports, which were a bit more liberal than the real ones, that and the fact that Al Franken played a reporter (I just can't get over that). The only other things I could see being construed as spin are the fact that the bad guys are a greedy corporation and a few paid off, right leaning Dems, while the good guys in the political arena are mainly the ultralibs.

    Bottom line: it's a good movie, but grit your teeth at Al Franken and prepare to suspend disbelief. Well worth the money, IMHO.
     
  2. nbdysfu
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    nbdysfu Member

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    ? Are you saying Kerry is the Manchurian candidate, contrived glory story and all?
     
  3. insein
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    insein Senior Member

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    When i read the script, i thought the same thing. Some were trying to say Bush was, but with all that is happening surrounding KErry's "War Stories" and his shoddy campaign, he looks more like the Manchurian Candidate.
     
  4. Moi
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    Moi Active Member

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    I loved the original so I can't wait to see this one. Denzel Washington is so cool...

    I'm glad to hear they didn't whack up the movie using violence. I still think suspense is so much more intricate and exciting than vulgar gore.
     
  5. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    I enjoyed this movie too. It wasn't the greatest, or even great, but it was entertaining. It's refreshing to see a movie where a character spouting crazy conspiracy theories isn't instantly marginalized and writen off for the bulk of the movie until the very end when he is finally vindicated. In this movie, generally people take the character seriously, and sometimes not so seriously, depending on the individual and the situation. Denzel also does an excellent job portraying the very character who could be taken seriously sometimes and sometimes not. Sometimes he's the picture of moderation, and sometimes he's overwhelmed by the complexity of his situation.

    It's true though that there wasn't a great deal of political propaganda in this movie. There were a few comments concerning the War on Terror, but considering that we are currently in the middle of the War on Terror they just wanted to make the movie timely. Having not seen the original Manchurian Candidate I couldn't say whether or not the events of that movie were said to have been occuring during a time of war, or if that was something new written into the story.

    And though they did not explicitly say the main party featured were the Democrats, I too felt that that's which one it was by the end of the movie.


    I didn't quite understand the 'Al Franken as newscaster' thing either. I mean let's be serious, he's too stupid looking to be a newscaster.
     
  6. nycflasher
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    nycflasher Active Member

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    I give it AT LEAST three stars.
    Maybe 3 1/2 or 4? (out of 5 possible)
     
  7. nbdysfu
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    nbdysfu Member

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    Yeah man, I'd be down if I weren't studying for accreditation. I am a diligent professional. It's not like I've been watching "Spellbound" and "American Splendor" and "Blade II" and typing reviews on a, a.... oh wait. :( I'll have time after wednesday.:thup:
     
  8. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    i think the original was better (i bought it two years ago in the el cheapo dvd version that is now outdated by the much better updated one, :fu2: dvd companies for not getting it right the 1st time)

    but this one was very good, and I have to give all the actors praise for outstanding performances (streep was off the charts with hers)
     

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