Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Crazies (remake)

Words can't describe how much better this movie is than the original, but I'll try. First of all, the plot follows a much more logical pattern in this movie. I'm sure the original thought it was being all edgy and shocking with its opening scene, but it was muddled and confusing, not shocking. Plus it threw us into the fray before we even knew any of the characters enough to care what happened to them yet. We didn't get to meet those characters until they were already in a crazy situation and on the run from the military. In the remake, we see a scene of chaos, and then we flash back to two days earlier and see the town before all this started, and we get to know and care about the characters, so we actually give a shit what happens to them. Much better.

Second, the characters in this movie act like residents of a small town would actually act. Everyone knows everyone else, they all know who's the town drunk, who's dating who, etc. I've lived in small towns all my life and this is much more believable than whatever bullshit dialogue the people in the original were supposed to be spewing. Instead of standing in our faces and screaming "THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOU!" this movie SHOWS US with its plot and the events that happen. Again, much better.

Third, the gore and special effects and acting were much better, and the sets were far more realistic. Now this might sound like a nasty thing to say, since I know the original didn't have a very good budget, but I can't forgive Romero for having a good idea and then going ahead with it anyway if he didn't have the budget to pull it off. "Night of the Living Dead" worked with a tiny budget because its idea didn't call for huge sweeping sets (like a decontamination chamber, for instance) and when Romero had the idea to adapt Stephen King's novel "The Stand" into a movie in the early 80s, he put the idea on hold because he knew he didn't have the budget to pull it off and he wanted it to be good. He should have realized how silly it would look to have the military be five guys in green pajamas running around a town in makeshift Hazmat suits that look like Hefty bags, herding all the infected people into one school gymnasium and then being surprised when they escape. Come on, give me a break. This movie doesn't have a ton of expensive sets either, but what they do have looks believable. Instead of randomly trying to herd everyone in town into one gymnasium, they herd the townspeople into vans and then check to see if people are showing signs of infection, and then they separate the infected from the uninfected, which not only creates drama and pathos, it looks more believable, and it adds a huge emotional impact later on in the story when other details are revealed (which I won't spoil here). Suffice it to say, "The Crazies" of 2010 isn't perfect, but it's a damn sight closer than the original.

The special effects falter a little at the very end, but I didn't mind too much, and all in all, for my money, this is a remake that is superior in every way to the original. THIS is what remakes should be. They should take movies with good ideas and poor execution and make them better. That's what this movie does, and I love it for that.

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