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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Carrie (TV Film)
Carrie (TV Film)
MGM // Unrated // August 12, 2003
List Price: $25.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted September 22, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

"A TV movie from 2001 based on a book that was already made into a movie in 1976 and followed by a crappy sequel in 1999."

Wow, it didn't even sound good on paper.

For reasons unknown to humankind, remakes of classic movies are constantly being greenlit and thrust upon the general public. It's happened before, and it'll happen again. Strangely enough, it seems that the horror genre falls victim to the "remake curse" more than any other. They usually range from the terrible (House on Haunted Hill, Psycho) to the mediocre (The Shining mini-series). Sometimes, the remake is even better than the original (John Carpenter's The Thing). For the most part, the remakes seem half-hearted when compared to the originals for one reason: most people hate them before they even see them.

Such is the case with Carrie, the subject of the opening description. The original 1976 movie was the first based on Stephen King's work, and helped make him one of the most popular and succesful authors of our time. Carrie had a simple enough premise: Girl with supernatural powers gets picked on, so she retaliates by using said powers. In short, the movie taught us that there's nothing like setting fellow students on fire to obtain revenge (wait a minute, where was Michael Moore when all this was happnening?). Directed by Brian DePalma, it shocked audiences like few films had done before, and had that creepy "get-under-your-skin" factor usually only present in a Hitchcock movie. It stood the test of time for nearly 25 years, when it got the worst birthday present a movie could ask for: a sequel.

Sequels, like remakes, look like easy money on the surface: the formula works, so use it again. Simple enough. Problem is, it usually takes away the power of the orginal (see also: Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th; heck, even Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). Let's face it, The Rage: Carrie 2 had a lot to live up to, and...well, it didn't. Likewise, this TV remake of the original had a lot to live up to, possibly even more. And it almost did.

Almost.

The true definition of an average movie (hence the 2 1/2 stars), Carrie is very middle-of-the-road on all counts. Like the recent TV miniseries remake of The Shining, it's acceptable for entertainment, but pretty forgettable in the long run. The main problem? Like most other remakes, the sheer weight of the original crushes the hope of ever living up to it. Updated clothes? Check. Updated soundtrack? Check. CGI effects? Check. The "TV movie curse" of pacing also hurts the movie on more than one occassion...gaps in the action where commercials used to be are a little disctracting. While the overall viewing experience wasn't all bad (it was quite tense and powerful in some scenes), it all just seemed a little unnecessary, given the circumstances. The original film has actually aged quite well, after all. Why not just buy the broadcasting rights and show that on TV instead?

However, there are some significant differences between this and the original movie. It follows the book on a somwhat different path (more emphasis on the religious aspects, for example) and also has a more open-ended conclusion. The visual style is also new and different, giving a different feel to otherwise familiar ground. If nothing else, hardcore fans of the original are encouraged to check this one out and see for themselves. I'm sure a small minority may even prefer this to the original, but that's your business. In any case, the folks over at MGM have captured this average moment by releasing an appropriately average DVD. Read on for more!

The DVD

Video:
The video is good, but still isn't up to par in some areas. Let me elabortate: while a little on the low-budget side, the recent production of this movie lends itself to a pretty nice transfer. Colors are spot-on, but the overall image is a little on the soft side. It is a slight improvemenmt over the original broadcast, but could still be a bit sharper. This is obviously not demo material here, but passable for what it is. The original aspect ratio is maintained with this 1.33:1 full screen transfer.

Audio:
The audio itself is a slight improvement over the video. The 5.1 mix is a little passive, but the rear surrounds kick in occasionally to help draw you in. Dialogue sounds clear and is easily heard, which is what really counts.

Extras:
Sigh. As is pretty common with MGM releases that don't say "Special Edition" at the top, this release only includes a few trailers for other MGM horror offerings. They could have thrown a bit more into the fire here, but instead, it's pretty bare-bones. Once again, sigh.

Menu design and presentation:
Good-looking menus are always a nice inclusion. The main menu is animated and captures the feel of the movie quite well, while sub-menus are pretty basic but still nice.

Should anything else have been included?
You bet! Since this was a remake of a book adaption, how about some history? A bio or featurette on Stephen King would have been cool, or even some basic behind-the-scenes stuff. It would also have been nice to hear from director David Carson as well, either in part or on a full audio commentary. Again, while this was an average movie, some more info might have won me over. Who knows, maybe MGM will "remake" the disc too, and give us some more to chew on in the future.

Final Thoughts

Remakes are a mixed bag, and this one's no different. Standing on its own, this could have been one of the most talked about TV movies in years...but the story was already part of film history. If you liked this on TV, you probably already have it. Curious parties are encouraged to Rent It, as the somwhat high MSRP of $25.98 for a bare-bones disc keeps this from being a solid recommendation.

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