Bryan Singer

Apt Pupil

Year: 1998
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Written By: Stephen King

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is based on the novella by the same name written by Stephen King.  It’s part of a collection of four novellas in the book titled “Different Seasons.” The other novellas were “Shawshank Redemption,” “The Body” (made into the movie Stand By Me), and “The Breathing Method.” I have read them all and they are all good, but this one is far and away the best.  It’s an incredible story, such a fantastic idea, and this is what Stephen King does in his free time after finishing a bigger novel. I can’t remember specifically but in the afterword I think King says he wrote this story in merely a few weeks and it was maybe after “The Shining.” One of these stories at least was written after “The Shining”, which short of “The Breathing Method” were all made into very successful films.  “Apt Pupil” is an amazing story, its about madness, obsession, manipulation, and murder.  I love the story, and I have read it several times.

Since reading it the movie doesn’t quite pack the same punch, which is typically what happens but I still enjoy the movie.  I am a big fan of Bryan Singer, despite his post X2 career.  Ian Mckellan is perfect in this film, as would be expected.  Ian McKellan is one of those actors that makes any movie better, much like Michael Caine.  He has had a lot of success teaming with Singer as they also collaborated on the X-Men movies with Mckellan playing a great Magneto. I think the part of Todd Bowden could have been cast better, nobody specific comes to mind but I am not impressed by Brad Renfro’s performance.  A major difference in the book is that the story takes place over a period of several years so Todd is much younger in the beginning.  I tend to see Renfro as too old when I watch the movie now, and I don’t think he has the range to play such a complex character.

This movie is great but if you want more madness from this story then definitely get yourself a copy of “Different Seasons.” I actually have “Apt Pupil” on audio book and listen to it as I work sometimes, it’s recorded by Frank Mueller who does a great job voice acting. The book goes much deeper and it takes you much farther, but this is typical when movies are based off of books.  This movie is worth your time and you should check it out if you have a chance to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoy this film. I am a sucker for Ian McKellan, excuse me…Sir Ian McKellan. This film is interesting and isn’t like other movies that tend to follow similar past stories. This is really original. I know that it is based on a Stephen King novel, but it is still such an original movie and book. The parts that the two guys play are so perfect and to the tee. You could totally believe that Ian McKellan is actually German.

If you can’t find anything else to watch this is worth it. You have to be interested in a movie like this, I don’t think that it is really meant for everyone.

NEXT MOVIE:  A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

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Movies Not To Watch

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

This was too little too late from Bryan Singer, who destroyed this franchise himself over five year ago when he dumped X-Men 3 for the hopeless Superman reboot.  I had high hopes for his return to the franchise but I have been gravely disappointed.  I think Bryan Singer is a great filmmaker but I have hated him since he ruined this franchise.  X2 was an incredible movie and a great follow up to a pretty good first film, there was no reason the third film shouldn’t be just as good as the second. Out of no where Bryan Singer decided to abandon the series and it passed through a handful of people before landing in the hands of the hack Brett Ratner.  The movie was awful, despite a very good cast it was poorly made and a completely ridiculous story. X-Men: First Class is just as bad I’m afraid, I seriously doubt there will be any follow-ups to this reboot.

X-Men is part of a universe with so many exciting characters, it makes no sense to me for there to be movies made about X-Men with made up characters in it.  The third X-men movie did this exact same thing and it was ridiculous then too.  There are literally hundreds of characters to chose from and the writers are making up a girl with fairy wings that spits fire balls? This movie is dumb, but it is especially bad for the comic book fan because it’s not even remotely what it should be.  The script was very generic, the actors were awful for the most part, and it didn’t engage me at all.  Michael Fassbender was a great Magneto but honestly, I thought he was over acting at times.  Why was Havok in the movie? January Jones and Jennifer Lawrence were both bad and poorly cast.  James McAvoy seems to be under the impression that Professor X had some kind of button on his temple that activated his powers.  I think Kevin Bacon looked good on paper, but come on, were they really taking this thing seriously?

I don’t expect a movie made about a comic book to follow the story line perfectly, but it should at least remotely follow the story that its actually based on. The third X-Men movie was just like this, no respect for the original storyline.  I knew within the first five minutes of this film that I wasn’t going to like it and I suffered through the whole thing.  Don’t make the same mistake I did, I cannot get that time or money back, go see Thor (not in 3D) instead, it’s a good Marvel movie.  X-Men: First Class did offer one scene that was awesome, and it involved an incredible and unexpected cameo. I cannot stress enough how much that was the only good part, and that doesn’t make the movie worth seeing.

UPDATE: I have made a mistake, the girl with the fairy wings, Angel Salvadore, is in fact a real character from the X-Men universe.  I don’t know this character and didn’t recognize her in an origin movie because she wasn’t created until nearly 40 years after that origin.

UPDATE 2: I am leaving this post up because it does represent my initial impression of the film but my opinion has changed since.  I wrote an updated review a year or so later after watching the film again on TV.  You can read that review here.