THE CRAZIES: THE REVIEW

I enjoy the hell out of apocalyptic movies, especially if they are done well, and I’m happy to report The Crazies is well done surprisingly well done actually. I had very little hope for this movie to begin with because it was based on one of George A. Romero’s less then stellar outings and that’s saying something since most of his outings, not called Night of the Living Dead, suck.
The Crazies is directed by Breck Eisner who obviosly got this gig by nepotism and a quick perusal of his resume on IMDB shows a disturbing lack of quality. The two writers of the Crazies, Scott Kosar and Ray Wright have between them one good screen play and several crappy ones like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Pulse both of which are terrible movies. Worse yet George Romero was involved in the process. All that adds up to, in my opinion, an accident waiting to happen yet against all odds they pulled it off.

I’m not going to rehash the plot here because it’s simple: virus, crazies, survival, escape, standard stuff. Instead I’m going to cover why I think the movie worked. First they cast good actors from top to bottom but I’m going to focus on the top three roles in this and it all starts with Timothy Olyphant and he delivered yet again. His turn as Sheriff David Dutton, part of the two man department for a small farming town in Iowa, worked very well. The movie lives and dies with how you think of Olyphant since he is on screen for about 98% of the movie. I’ve always liked him and to me he was true blue in the role. He looks like he could be from that area and he never felt all “hollywoody” in the role. Olyphant has that ability to be likeable and yet have an edge like he could do some serious damage at the drop of a hat. Olyphant handled the emotional and physical changes his character endured in the movie with skill.

Radha Mitchell played Judy Dutton the Sheriff’s wife and town doctor. Mitchell has never really worked for me in anything except Pitch Black but she does great work as Judy, she was equally as good as Olyphant. Their relationship is what drives the movie. You easily accept that the characters would make the choices they make and act the way they do because Olyphant and Mitchell are believable. They are two regular people that rely on the strength of their relationship to survive.

The last main character is Deputy Russel Clank played by Joe Anderson who I have never seen before and by looking at IMBD learned is English. I must commend him on his performance I never once thought he was English. The Australians and English are very good at doing non-regional American accents but suck the big one on trying to Southern or “rural” accents but not Anderson, he was pitch perfect in his supporting job. Anderson turned what could have be a throw away role into something special and he made you believe that Clank and Dutton are friends and that he would make the heroic choice he made.

Lastly what made the movie work is that they decided jettison most of Romero’s original movie and make their own. They followed along the same template as Zach Snyder’s vastly superior remake of Dawn of the Dead. Moving the story from Pennsylvania to Iowa also helped. Even though the flat landscape was wide open it still made you feel claustrophobic and vulnerable in the wide open shots. As a matter of fact the movie that the Crazies most reminded me of is Jaws, no I am not kidding, here’s why and I’m marking this as:

SPOILER WARNING

3

2

1
BELOW ARE SPOILERS YOU HAVE BEEN PROPERLY WARNED.

The flat open fields of Iowa reminded me of the ocean vista you saw from the Orca. There is also a scene involving the town Mayor that was probably lifted directly from Jaws. I always thought Jaws had a very claustrophobic feeling even though it was taking place on open water. The Crazies has that same feel.

SPOILERS OVER


The bad guys were well done, both the Crazies and the Military. They were smart in keeping the Military behind their MOPP gear because it gave them an otherworldly feel that kept the viewer off balance. Except for two scenes you never see the faces of any of the Soldiers, Scientist or Intelligence officers.
The Crazies were also handled well. Most of the main ones you get to see before they became infected this is because the writers and director chose to build the story slowly and that made the tension rise and the damage done by the crazies seem even worse .

Was everything hunky dory in the Crazies? No they could have cut maybe 5 or so minutes from the movie. It seemed like Eisner fell in love with long shots of characters walking in empty fields and with pensive shots of actors standing around or sitting. He also had one to many jump scares but overall they worked in the context of the story. I wasn’t sure which branch of the Military the soldiers were supposed to be because it seems like they melded the Army and Marine Corps together. How the virus got loose needed another rewrite or two but I can live with. Over all the complaints are fairly minor for this type of movie and usually zombie style movies are filled to the top with issues.

I have to say that between The Crazies and The Book of Eli studios are waking up to the fact that good genre movies released in the early part of a new year can make money. The Crazies according IMDB had a budget of 20 million but doesn’t look it and I bet it makes a profit back during the theatrical run. I went to a 4:25 PM showing and the theater was about 70 percent full.

Xiphos

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About Xiphos0311

Sporadic genius but mostly IDGAF.

59 responses to “THE CRAZIES: THE REVIEW”

  1. xiphos0311 says :

    I need to point out that since Barfy is on holiday I did this myself. All spelling errors missed and bad grammar are on me since Barfy beats my illiteracy into a readable form. The way the post is set up is all on me also since I’ve never posted anything myself until right now.

  2. Droid says :

    Good review Xi. And cheers for the spoiler warning. Skipped that part.

    I’m actually interested in seeing this one. Good to hear it’s not garbage.

    Breck Eisner made Sahara, which I like (it was on my controversial beer and pizza list).

  3. xiphos0311 says :

    Droid you will probably really like the movie its very good. I’m still sort of stunned how good it is.

  4. Droid says :

    Might go see it this arvo after cricket. And you’re right, we have had some really good genre flicks already this year. Daybreakers and Eli were both lots of fun.

  5. xiphos0311 says :

    I should probably give a definition of MOPP it stands for Mission Oriented Protective Posture. It’s the gear that the military wears in what is called a Nuclear Biological, Chemical environment.(NBC)

    Full MOPP is the “gas mask” and full hood that covers your head. Over garments lined with charcoal and gloves and boots.

    If you ever want to lose water weight fast don MOPP gear. You will sweat like a mother but since its a total closed design there is no air transfer, it won’t evaporate you just keep sweating. It’s almost preferable to get killed by the NBC environment then wear the full MOPP gear.

  6. Continentalop says :

    Xiphos, awesome review. It sounds like you had the same reaction to the Crazies that I had in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: little faith in the talent involved but completely surprised by what a good job they did.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Conti,
      Sherlock Holmes was another movie that surprised the hell out of me how good it was. I watched it one rainy Saturday and enjoyed the hell out of it.

      • Continentalop says :

        Yeah. When I first saw the trailers I wrote it off as complete shit and said so at Ginger Town.

        I admit I ate crow on that one.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        The Crazies had a great ad campaign compared to Sherlock Holmes. The Crazies ads made you want to see the movie but didn’t give anything away.

  7. Continentalop says :

    I do disagree with you about Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Vastly superior to the remake IMO.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Sorry to disagree but Romero’s DoD is utter and complete horse shit. I saw it when it came out I was 8 or 9 and laughed my ass off. When I got older an watched it again I realized that the dumb fuck social commentary was just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen on film until Avatard came along.

      I have abused wife syndrome with Romero and I will end up watching his next movie. Probably curled up in the fetal position begging him not hurt me again and promising to be good.

      • Continentalop says :

        “Utter and complete horse shit”? I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.
        But c’mon, the original DotD is the film that started one of the great philosophical questions: What would you do and where would you go during a zombie apocalypse?

      • xiphos0311 says :

        What would you do and where would you go during a zombie apocalypse?

        I would head down to the weapons locker load up then head over to the ammo bunker and get my fill. I would then amble across the base till I found a LAV or even better an MRAP(tinyurl.com/yeef893) After that I would head to the nearest college and make it my Kingdom. Co-eds for everybody! or maybe just me, I haven’t worked that part out yet.

      • Continentalop says :

        I think I would shit a break and hold up in my apartment until hopefully you drove by. If I’m lucky maybe you’d stop to pick me up, but I doubt it.

        I am woefully unprepared for a zombie apocalypse…

  8. Droid says :

    Regarding the regional accents, I think even american actors struggle with them sometimes. I’m thinking Boston in particular.

    *coughDiCapriocough*

    • Continentalop says :

      DiCaprio does a great 1940s Movie Boston Accent though. You know, how in the old movies everyones accents are so exaggerated.

  9. Jarv says :

    Very nice review.

    Only one thing- Dawn of the Dead (Romero’s) is good. Snyders is moronic trash. Like everything Snyder does.

    Having said that, I’m all for taking a chainsaw to Romero’s later stuff that isn’t called “The Dark Half” and redoing it as it may get me over my battered wife syndrome with the cunt

  10. xiphos0311 says :

    Boston accents are a hard one because its such a brutal sounding accent to begin with. Even Affleck and Damon who lived in the Boston area don’t do a very good job with them.

  11. Tom_Bando says :

    Another one of these ‘the Plague Zombies are Amongst us-All wreck and Ruin—-!” things. Book of Eli, Zombieland and etc my my my. Gee.

    At least this one sounds like they doned a good job on it. No Giant Robot (Zombie) Lions though-?? Xiphos-again, you have missed the one plotpoint that keeps these films from being Classics! Dang son it’s not THAT hard-

    I do like the co-eds bit though-

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Tom if you look carefully in one of the scenes of them walking across fields way in the back next to a hay rick I could have sworn I saw a shadow of a giant robot lion. They are sneaky bastards those robot lions.

    • Continentalop says :

      Tom Bandito, have you seen this short yet:

      The guy who made it got signed to do a feature film. I imagine it will involve giant robots, maybe even giant robot lions.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        that was a damn good short movie that guy made.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Xiphos–well I will be sure to catch this on DVD and pause it at all appropriate and likely Giant Robot Lion spots. Thanks for the heads up. I agree they ARE sneaky.

        Conti Pops-yes I DID see this-from our friend in Uruguay(!). Very much worth watching.

  12. redfishybluefishy says :

    I do like Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson, but don’t know if I’ll see this. While the great Xippy review is encouraging, it’s not really my kinda movie to run out and see at the theatre. I’ll probably see it at some point, though.

    I wasted 2 hours on Daybreakers, a movie that had a great idea and could have been WAY better but mostly just made me laugh (and not really in a good way).

    I agree with the accents, half the time I wish they wouldn’t even bother. Curious how even a true accent can sometimes sound fake and overdone…

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Hey there Fishy,

      Joe Anderson was a nice surprise, I had no experience with him previously and the entire time i was thinking he was somebody else but damn he was good.

      You are right about accents, if they can’t do them right why bother, eh?

  13. Bartleby says :

    Good review Xi. You are on the money. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and the lonely, isolated quality is there too.

    I think it’s better than Romero’s original easily. Fun flick.

    My review:

    http://www.atomicpopcorn.net/the-crazies-movie-review/

    • xiphos0311 says :

      The isolation of both the situation and terrain is something that sort of smacks you in the face. It was great idea to move the movie to Iowa and away from the dense woodlands/urban/suburban look of Pennsylvania.

      ***SPOILER*********

      Jonah do you agree about the Jaws comparison?

      *********Spoiler over*********

    • xiphos0311 says :

      About the comparison to the original. What I liked is that they changed Dutton and Clank to Cops instead of Firemen and that Dutton was a regular guy instead of Green Beret that served in Vietnam like in the original. Clank was also an army Infantrymen if I remember correctly.

  14. Bartleby says :

    Xi, did Olyphant feel like he was in Michael Biehn (circa 1986) mode? I liked his work alot here. In fact, he Anderson and Mitchell were about as likable a group as you could want for this kind of serious-minded bloody little affair.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Damn I meant to mention the Biehn/Olyphant connection, thanks for reminding me. If they made this movie 20 years ago it would have been a perfect vehicle for Biehn.

      There is something about the eyes and the way both Biehn and Olyphant hold themselves that they have in common plus that undercurrent of violence. Both seem like they enjoy violence if the situation calls for

      • Continentalop says :

        Wost accent – Minnesota accent. Only Fargo nailed it and that was intentionally exaggerated.

        “Oh, you betcha.”

  15. Continentalop says :

    Xi, here is another interesting video that I first saw at the HD Expo in Burbank. It shows how much green screen is really being used on TV:

    to me the most interesting thing is that the backplates are all shot with a Cannon 5D, which is like a high end consumer level camera that cost only $3,000 dollars. In fact some of those backplates were probably just JPEGs (still photos) with some movement shots composited in.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      That’s an amazing amount of green screen. I knew that they used but jesus that was eye opening. Do they use so much because it’s cheaper then filming on location or because locations don’t have everything they need?

      • Continentalop says :

        It is cheaper and more convenient (for studios). The funny thing is I think modern movies are becoming like older movies: virtual sets, green screen backdrops and locations are pretty much the modern equivalent of studio sets, backlots, matte paintings and rear projection.

      • redfishybluefishy says :

        holy crap, i’m with you Xippy…. i knew there was a lot of green screen, but that was, wow, a bit startling. lol, and i work with these people sometimes. but never on set because it’s boring as hell.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah that was a cool video. Also helps explain why so many shows across different networks have such similar looks. Also whats funny is the use of directors across TV shows, its almost like an assembly line formula because there are a lot of b-level directors who had careers in movies 10 years ago now making shit tons of TV. Its really odd, you see a guy that made one or two decent movies in the 80s-90s and now all they do is TV.

    • Tom_Bando says :

      Yeah I was amazed. Even those city street shots etc. Quite the leap forward in tech stuff eh?

    • lordbronco says :

      Good Lord Conti-you drove me mad with talking about Canon cameras over at Gingetown. My fingers crossed, i figured this year Canon might actually come out with something …just…EXACTLY…like this:

      http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=139&modelid=19943

      I’m stunned-but there are hardly any reviews yet.

      Awesome review, btw, Xiphos.

      • Continentalop says :

        LB, you know what is another camera that I think looks pretty good? The Pentak K-7. Here is a short shot on it:

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Not being up on camera tech all I can say is it’s nice looking movie and well made. Good work guy who made that short.

  16. koutchboom says :

    Radha Mitchell was pretty good in the Sam Worthington vehicle, Rouge. Thats a good movie.

  17. MORBIUS says :

    Top review Xi, and thanks for the spoiler alert, I’ll probably see this tomorrow on your recommendation. Hoping to see Wolfman then too.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      You should enjoy the Crazies Morbius it is a very good and well made movie. I would like to see The Wolfman on the big screen I should probably do that sooner rather then later.

  18. xiphos0311 says :

    I don’t hate Romero I just know what I’m going to get with him. My issues with Romero is that I don’t understand all the veneration he receives for his work after Night I don’t see it.

    The original Crazies was movie that cried out to be remade. From what I remember it wasn’t that good but I am going on a memory over 25 years old so take my opinion with a large grain of salt.

  19. koutchboom says :

    Hey XI you looking for a decent horror movie. Pandorum is ok, its part SyFy part horror, never really succeeds at either, but its fun and it better then you think it would be. I think the same company made it that made these, because I got tons of bags from my comic shop advertising Pandorum on one side and The Crazies on the other.

  20. koutchboom says :

    Radha Mitchell is an Aussie as well.

  21. herrmilflover says :

    I finally saw The Crazies today, and I fucking loved it!
    Everything about it was really fucking awesome.

    Definitely my 2nd best movie this year so far, right after The Book Of Eli.

    And I wish Rhada Mitchell was my doctor, damn she is still looking quite stunning even a decade after Pitch Black.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      There is a lot to love in the Crazies that for sure.

      Rhada Mitchell can give me a full body exam when ever she feels like it.

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