Is there such a thing as a successful remake anymore? After seeing Fright Night the answer is (surprisingly) a resounding “Yes.” Craig Gillespie’s shiny reimagining of the 1985 kitsch classic is very much its own movie but like any good spawn it doesn’t forget where it came from.
The film’s plot is not born of a novel concept. Las Vegas teenager Charlie (Anton Yelchin) is doing just fine. He managed to shake his nerd image he’s got a hot girlfriend (Imogen Poots) and he even puts the de facto cool kids to shame on occasion. Life’s pretty great until he meets the neighbor: Jerry (Colin Farrell). People are disappearing and Charlie’s old friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has a theory: Jerry’s a vampire. Armed with only the vampirical evidence doled out by Criss Angel reincarnate Peter Vincent (David Tennant) Charlie is forced to defend himself his mother (Toni Collette) and his girlfriend from the silver pointy clutches of Jerry the vampire’s endless blood-lust. And a suspenseful hilarious time ensues.
Fright Night is successful in large part because it keeps things simple. Charlie: good. Jerry: 16 shades of blood-curdling evil. Game set match. It’s scary and gory with a dash of humor – essentially a good old-fashioned senseless horror flick with a glossy big-budget cover. It’s cleverly self-aware and expends great effort to lend a sense of quality to something that promises to be nothing more than a bloody slasher flick. But the bottom line is that it works.
And the cast is big part of that. Farrell’s bloodsucker is the antidote our Twilight-riddled generation so desperately needs; this is what vampires are supposed to be. His twitchy growling yet somehow seductive vampire successfully strikes a precarious balance along the sexy-scary line and while the role doesn’t demand a great deal of Farrell's talent he’s fully committed to his psychotic relentlessly violent character and the result is deliciously despicable.
As for our band of plucky good guys Yelchin is perfectly adequate as our hero. He’s likeable he’s trustworthy and he holds his own amongst onscreen presences that threaten to drown him – Mintz-Plasse Farrell and Tennant are tough acts to outshine. Collette is generally wasted – anyone could play her part but she does what she can with the material she’s dealt. Poots really shines here; it’s almost surprising that she’s able to bring such much power to the typical girlfriend role but she manages to make her character more than just a love interest. But of course the one man who stands above the entire cast is Tennant who’s all but eliminated from the trailers for the film. The former Doctor Who star jumps into the mainstream as Peter Vincent Las Vegas performer and vampire expert extraordinaire and every minute he’s onscreen is comedy gold. His timing delivery stature and expressions are all pitch perfect. His performance alone is worth giving Fright Night two hours of your time.
Of course Gillespie makes some very stark choices with the film. The dark scenes are almost too dark; it takes a few scenes to adjust to the lighting much like being suddenly shut in a dark room. And while it’s probably not great for anyone’s ocular health it really heightens the element of fear. Then there’s the element of 3-D which is thoroughly used throughout. At first it borders on schlocky but when the vampy action gets going everything from blood to holy water to fire comes bursting out of the screen and lends an enjoyable but decidedly B-movie flair to the whole ordeal.
While the story wheels out of control leans heavily on ridiculously convenient solutions and generally has only two goals – fear and bloodshed – the film itself is so much fun that those elements don’t really matter. If you’re looking for something to stimulate your intellect run like hell from this movie but if you want two hours of unadulterated messy creepy fun look no further than Fright Night.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Passion, Fahrenheit have some Globes trouble
Even though they were two of the most talked-about films of the year, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 have hit some snags regarding the eligibility for Golden Globes, Reuters reports. Fahrenheit will not be eligible in any Globes categories because it is a documentary, for which there is no separate category, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. does not allow docus to be considered in the top film award categories. Passion, in which much of the dialogue is spoken in Aramaic, also cannot compete for best drama because it is considered a foreign-language film, but can be considered for best foreign film. Nominations for the 62nd annual Golden Globe Awards will be announced Dec. 13, with the winners revealed in a Jan. 16 ceremony to be telecast live on NBC.
Farrell says no thanks to 007 role
You won't be calling Colin Farrell the next James Bond anytime soon. In an interview with Reuters on Sunday to discuss his soon to be released film Alexander, Farrell, 28, was asked about taking on the 007 role, endorsed by the former Bond, Pierce Brosnan, who last week said that Farrell should get the job because "he'll eat the head off them all." Farrell feigned outrage at the thought of becoming the sixth James Bond in the series, joking he was shocked by Brosnan's suggestion and if he got the job, he just might employ an Irish accent to confuse fans of the suave British agent. "The idea of me playing James Bond got into the press, but it is not true. I would not like to do it…they should find someone the audience has no history with," Farrell said. And the hunt is still on.
Pitt visits Ethiopia on AIDS mission
Actor Brad Pitt spent four days in Ethiopia to learn more about AIDS in Africa as part of a fund-raising campaign to combat the disease on the world's poorest continent, a spokesman told The Associated Press Tuesday. The trip was organized by DATA, a Washington-based lobby group co-founded by rock star Bono, which campaigns on Third World trade, debt and HIV/AIDS. Pitt began his first visit to the Horn of Africa country Friday and left late Monday night. "It was a listening and learning visit," DATA spokesman Jamie Drummond told AP.
Burt Reynolds accuses ex-girlfriend of extortion
Burt Reynolds sued his former girlfriend of 10 years, Pamela Seals, alleging she threatened to falsely accuse him of abuse unless he paid millions of dollars in extortion, AP reports. According to the lawsuit, filed Monday in West Palm Beach, Fla., Seals falsely accused Reynolds of yelling at her and stomping on her toes. Seals told the 68-year-old actor she would publicize her allegations if he didn't agree to a hefty settlement that included support for Seals and her mother, and half of Reynolds' Jupiter home. Reynolds' lawyer, Bob Montgomery, said the actor offered to settle the matter for $1 million but Seals refused. He added Seals is not entitled to anything under Florida law because the two were never married.
Ewan McGregor makes musical theater debut
Ewan McGregor, who stars as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, will make his musical theater debut as Sky Masterson in a remake of Guys and Dolls in London's West End, AP reports. Frank Loesser's original Guys and Dolls opened on Broadway in 1950, but next year's revival, which is set to debut in June, will be the first new London production in 23 years. The role of Masterson was made famous by Marlon Brando, who played the desperate gambler in the 1955 Hollywood film starring Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra. The show will be McGregor's first on-stage singing role. He previously performed in theater and displayed his singing and dancing talents in the musical Moulin Rouge.
Trump's Apprentice has classroom appeal
Donald Trump's hit reality series The Apprentice is proving to be more than just good TV. AP reports professors from business schools around the nation are including Apprentice tips in their MBA programs. Denise Schoenbachler, chair of Northern Illinois University's marketing department, told The New York Post Monday students in her Marketing Apprentice class competed for scholarship money by selling football tickets and raising money for troops in Iraq, a concept inspired by the show. Trump himself has said he's impressed with his show's classroom appeal at schools such as Babson College in Massachusetts, Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Ohio State University in Columbus.
SAG announces dates
Submissions for the 11th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards close Thursday at 5 p.m., Variety reports.. To be considered, submissions must be made online at Sagawards.org or by calling the SAG Awards office. Actors, meanwhile, are nominated in five film and eight television categories. Nomination ballots will be mailed Dec. 10 and must be returned by Jan. 7. SAG members will receive their final ballots Jan. 11-the same day the nominations will be announced. The winners will be announced during the awards ceremony Feb. 5 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. TNT will broadcast the event.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.