Like always, there are Those Who Read the Book, and Those Who Didn't. Steven King has translated to the screen with mixed results; "Pet Sematary" is one of the worst acts of man ever set to celluloid, but "The Dead Zone" is one of my top five favorite movies. Naturally, all the really grotesque stuff in King's original novella had to be immeasurably softened, leaving us with Brad Renfro as the boy who discovers an old man's Nazi past and Ian McKellan as the war criminal who enters a dual blackmail with his new young friend. Haunting, intense and frequently itchy all over, director Bryan Singer doesn't come close to recreating the atmosphere of his brilliant "The Usual Suspects," but the orchestration feels the same; scenes are interwoven into each other with masterful storytelling ability, even if the whole caboodle doesn't really take shape until well into the third act. For some folks, of course, that's waaaay too long. And the finale, drastically different from the book, woefully suggests that our hero can take certain survival skills away from his Nazi pal. Being a monster is a bipolar disorder, folks; it's hard to pull horror from your back pocket without resorting to it on an hourly basis. Bryan Singer wants us to have it both ways, and at the end of the day, it just don't feel right.
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