Best of the new releases: The Crazies
Remakes are usually dangerous territory, what with the trampling of classics and the many duds that so often result from such endeavors. But they're not all bad, as the occasional gem can be found when fresh eyes find new ways to tell old stories. John Carpenter's The Thing is perhaps the best and most oft referenced example; the fact that it is based on some part on the Howard Hawks film The Thing From Another World is a somewhat trivial detail about an outstanding film, certainly one of the best from it's director and genre, probably one of the best on any scale. In any event, despite the current proliferation of seemingly arbitrary remakes, the idea of going back to a previous work isn't always a bad thing and, in certain cases, can lead to a fine film.
Romero's original version of The Crazies is a methodically-paced film about the potential consequences of generalized decision-making based on chain-of-command, governmental oversight, and military obedience. It focuses almost entirely on the military operation and puts a lot of effort into questioning the morality and rationality of decisions made in crisis. As such, it's quite frankly a pretty dull affair. But it does have a great premise, if not an entirely original one. The idea of friends and neighbors suddenly turning on each other in a relatively calm and collected murderous rage is terrifying. Thankfully, the remake of The Crazies exploits that fear to great effect. It stumbles a bit and bogs down towards the end, but overall it's an enjoyable film with strong performances from both Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson Do yourself a favor and check it out soon.