The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Year: 2004
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris

RYAN’S REVIEW

I watched this movie when it first came out and thought it was great.  Having just watched it the day after seeing the original I feel much differently.  I didn’t know at the time that it was a remake and had I known I probably would have avoided it altogether. I am reminded of my feelings when Red Dawn was remade because when that film came out I specifically tried to talk people out of seeing it.  I think it is asinine to remake a film that was about a specific conflict that is over and rewrite it to adapt to a different time. Both Red Dawn and this film were originally made about The Cold War, and that conflict is long since gone. These movies do not translate to this time and I think it is an insult to the originals to make them again.

This film isn’t quite as bad as the remake for Red Dawn. I have not seen the remake for that one and won’t see it on principle but this remake isn’t as bad because there are some correlations between the times.  I think there is an obvious correlation between The Cold War and The War on Terror that we had in the decade following 9/11.  Both have to do with a “culture of fear” that is driven by the media and government for political purposes.  Still, while that can somewhat justify the remake it doesn’t excuse it. This movie flat out doesn’t compare to the original and having seen now what it was supposed to be I can see little to understand what I saw in it to begin with.

The only positive thing I have to say about this film is the casting of Meryl Streep.  I don’t actually think anything about her performance was exceptional but simply the fact that she was cast to play the part was a good idea.  She plays the same part played by Angela Lansbury in the original and Lansbury did such a great job that there were big shoes to fill.  Lansbury was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the original and I said in our review of that film that she was specifically great in the movie.  I don’t think Streep did quite as well but that doesn’t change the fact that choosing her was a good idea.  Streep is a very accomplished actress having been nominated for an Oscar a whopping 17 times and winning the award 3 times.  Casting her to follow in the footsteps of Angela Lansbury at least shows the effort to take this remake seriously and create something just as good as the original.  Although, I can’t stress enough how much of a failure that effort turned out to be despite casting her in the role.

You could argue that the same type of effort was made in casting Denzel Washington in the role originally played by Frank Sinatra, but I won’t.  I won’t argue with the fact that Denzel is far and away a better actor than Sinatra ever hoped to be but I am not a fan and didn’t much care for his portrayal in this film.  I liked this movie enough to buy it but that was before I knew how good the original was.  Having said that let me tell you that this movie is not worth your time and I encourage anyone interested to see the original instead.  It is far and away better than this movie in every way possible.

AMBER’S REVIEW

For me, this one was easier to follow. Maybe because it is set in modern day, but ultimately I think it may be the stellar cast. (Not to discredit the older version, which was filled with amazing names) I loved how well Meryl Streep did in this role. She is just so amazing. She can go sweet to creepy to cutthroat all in a day it seems. She is flawless. The ironic thing here for me too is that the movie was pretty much the same story, but set in different times, yet it worked so well. History can and does repeat itself and I think this is a nice fictional way to show that.

poster3

I totally like the 1963 version of this poster better. I think it is important to show Denzel’s face on this one, but I think it could have been a better direction to mimic or update the old one. I think that would have been really clever. I think they sort of do that on the DVD cover though, so I’ll give some credit where credit is due.

The typography is big and bold which most poster designers like to do these days even 10 years later. All I see though, with the stars out to the side is the Team America title on that poster. It even makes me giggle.TeamAmericaLogo

Ok, so it’s not really THAT close, but still not too, too far off. (Still giggling). In any case, a really good movie, mediocre poster. Nothing terrible, nothing amazing.

NEXT MOVIE: Man of Steel (2013)

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