Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Critic Vs. Critic: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) [2/2]

Since the start of We’ve pride ourselves with the notion that we present to our readers with critiques built on high standards and quality writing, presenting only honesty and an unbiased moral high ground, though because we allow vast freedom of speech among our writers there’s always going to be a spin zone due to difference of opinions, and from time to time one or more critics here will voice their opinion in a completely different direction of the others. So in the sprite of outspoken voices we at TCWreviews would like to present what we hope will be the first of many editions of Citric Vs. Critic!

Tonight, TCWreviews’ Editor in Chief and Chief film critic Clifford Kiyabu will talk it out with fellow Critic, columnist and colleague Kelsey Zukowski. In this edition of Critic Vs. Critic we talk about Platinum Dunes remake A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) directed by Samuel Bayer.

Clifford: Well I guess we’re on the same page here as far as the look goes, we can mutually agree that they could have done a much much better job on his appearance. I understand that they wanted to go with a more realist take to the character’s appearance but by doing so they failed to see the true nature of Freddy, that there was more to his look then meets the eye, Freddy wasn’t just another burn victim and his appearance certainly wasn’t based on the fact that he died a horrific death such as burning. Though he did suffer a fiery death by the hands of the vengeance seeking parents whom wanted justice for the sickly demented things he had done to their children. A major part of his complexion in the dream world was based upon the evil that lurked within him, he could have easily morphed into a version of himself that resembled his pre-dream demon self but chose to remain the hellish version we all know and love because it resembled who he was deep down inside. I believe Showtime’s Dexter put it quite simpler, it was his own personal “Dark Passenger“. Freddy did the things he did because he was acting on the urges presented to him by his dark needs, and when he finally met his end in our realm he was reborn in the darkness that soon became his dominion

So yes I agree they botched Freddy’s look quite badly. however in spite of how bad his appearance turned out or how badly the film may have been, I seriously don‘t think it was in any way worst then Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. I don‘t care if Englund was in it, that movie was so dreadful I cannot for the life of me watch it without having the overwhelming feeling of wanting to hang myself with some dental floss! [Laughs]

And for a time being it was considered the final nail in the coffin for the franchise (Thank god for Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare!) so with that being said I know I’ll probably get a lot of negative feedback for saying this; but I firmly stand by my rating (7/10) because this new Elm street was a break from the traditional Freddy in terms of character in general which I believe will make them stand more apart from each other as time goes. The positive to look forward to out of all of this is that when a sequel is made, and I’m more then certain it will be made seeing that both Jackie Earle Haley and Rooney Mara have signed a three picture deal with Platinum Dunes to reprise their roles as Freddy and Nancy. Is that they’ll make up for their mistakes with this film in the next, and hopefully the sequel will be much better received by fans and critics alike for it, but as they say only time will tell. What say you Kel?

Kelsey: Beautifully put Clifford, you’re completely right. Freddy is far more than a burn victim. I think we all know that Freddy could never even really be a victim. He’s a dream master; eternally a villain, never a victim. There is no point in trying to make him look like a man when he is all monster. Any part of a man that once lay inside of him died when he was burned alive that night. He was evil before, but once he reached his death is when he truly embraced the darkness and let it devour his soul, making him an immortal being who feed off the fear of the children of Elm Street.

I actually have to disagree with you on Freddy’s Dead. I do think it’s the worst Freddy sequel, but it’s just so ridiculous and cheesy that you can still have a good time with it, even if you are laughing at it more than you are laughing with it. It’s all in good fun. The difference is the Nightmare remake took a serious tone and where comedy was attempted it failed miserably. It really seemed like they barely tried. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was a much more fitting ending and even Freddy vs. Jason was a better film.

The only things I can at all appreciate about this movie are the performances by Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara. I’ve been a fan of Gallner since his work on Veronica Mars. Even movies that aren’t the greatest (A Haunting in Connecticut), he still seems to bring a certain likeability out through his characters. He has great screen presence and it is easy to connect with his character here. He is really the only reason I could care about anything that was going on in the film. Personally, I love Heather Langenkamp in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, but I know there are plenty of people who think her performance was overacted. With Rooney Mara we get a more subtler approach, which might make Nancy and what she’s going through more believable. She is less direct and active than Heather’s Nancy, but along with Quentin is one of the only characters I cared about.

The Nightmare on Elm Street remake, might be different from the other Freddy films, but that doesn’t make it good. It took the original material of a darkly infused slasher classic and dumbed it down so much that nothing good was left. Most of the original material was took and thrown in to this film with making it look much worse when the potential was there to explore these intriguing themes and terrifying persona that is Freddy Kruger. Where it did branch out it felt very artificial and forced and wasn’t bold enough to really going in to the mindset of the maniacal Freddy Kruger. I highly doubt a sequel would show an improvement when there is nothing in the first as far as the material goes that is at all compelling, smart, or frightening. Obviously, what we got here is what we are stuck with and I cringe at the thought that the series will probably only go downhill from here (which is probably the only scary thing about this version of Freddy). Damn you ,Platinum Dunes, you have gone too far now.

Clifford: I’m a little shocked that you haven’t mentioned A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge in terms of worst in the franchise as it is widely known by fans as one of the most unsavory sequels in the series due to Freddy’s absence throughout most of the film (except for it’s ending) and for it‘s high overtones of homosexuality.

I however on the other hand actually liked it due to it’s standing out from the bunch and taking a very difference route from the other films and while some people didn‘t notice it, it‘s plot line actually set the stage for the future films (not to mention it‘s the only one in the bunch that Freddy shows his more serious side as well as letting you know he’s pissed off). The reason I cannot enjoy one bit of Freddy’s Dead is because there wasn’t anymore horror in the franchise at this point, it was just 90 plus minutes of Freddy throwing one liners around while killing a sad group of kids no one would give two S###’s about, simply put, the magic that made Freddy the iconic slasher we loved was gone, his essence was replaced with a carbine copy molded by the studio execs, heck even Englund knew it as he phoned in the performance, if it wasn‘t for New Nightmare to save the day I would have lost all faith in the franchise because New Nightmare returned Kruger back to his former glory as the notoriously devious boogieman that kept us laying awake at night, But here I go again going off topic.

The acting I thought was pretty decent compared to other horror remakes to come out recently, I mean let’s face it, My Bloody Valentine and Prom Night were just horrible, and I really like Jaime King and Brittany Snow, but their performance was just, terrible… so, so terrible. So when comparing it to films like that I have to say the cast of the Elm street remake did a pretty decant job. I thought Jackie Earle Haley did a fairly good job on his first attempt as Freddy, though I agree with you that there was so much potential that laid wasted here, but I don’t blame him for this, I blame the filmmakers. As for Katie Cassidy, I liked her performance a lot but once again it lacked in certain areas and I thought the amount of screen time given to her did more harm then good as it distracted viewers away from the true lead which was always Rooney Mara’s character Nancy, and while Rooney Mara was okay as Nancy I have to say I could not get into liking the character all that much, because I did not like the re-characterization of Nancy Thompson into Nancy Holbrook, the fact they turned her from being the bad ass heroin we all remembered loving into a depressed artsy EMO was very disappointing. For me Nancy is and always will be Heather Langenkamp. However, I am willing to give this new Nancy a chance if the character is given more depth in the sequel.

Kelsey: I actually don’t have the problems with Freddy’s Revenge that many fans of the series do. The homosexual overtones are definitely there and there are moments where it has a campy feel, but they are enjoyable all the same. I think the story works and it’s a way for the Nightmare to continue. I agree, that is helped turn the Elm Street movies in another direction.

The original is the best and is the perfect balance of sadistic comedy and chilling fear. Still, I love nearly every movie in the series for what it is. I wouldn’t go that far with Freddy’s Dead. It’s obviously of much lesser quality than any of the other films in the series and I recognize it as the worst film in the original franchise. The horror is overshadowed by the cheesy one liners. I like the films that take Freddy a little more seriously as a villain. However, one of the reasons why I always preferred him to Jason and Michael was his demented sense of humor and that he was just so in your face; it made him seem even more crazy. You really never know what he will do, but have no choice but to face whatever his psychotic mind thinks up. I love Freddy’s one liners even though I prefer them to be sprinkled in with escalating terror and mental mayhem. That’s not really the case with Freddy’s Dead, but I can still enjoy it as a cheesy Freddy film.

Hold on a second though, My Bloody Valentine is far better than this remake in nearly every way. I actually wasn’t the hugest fan of the original. Cool premise, but I just couldn’t care or take anything in it seriously. The obsession with the evils of dancing and Valentine’s Day celebrating was a little too much. What are we in, Footloose town? So when the remake came out in 3d no less I wasn’t all that interested. I was very pleasantly surprised. It is one of the few horror remakes I think is better than the original. I could easily care about all the characters and I thought all of the actors brought them out well. They actually depicted what was uprising in the town as something suspenseful and chilling.

Back in relation to the Nightmare remake, the acting was one of the only elements that I can say anything positive about at all. I already described the two performances I enjoyed. Katie Cassidy was just alright to me. She did what the role required, but nothing more. Kellan Lutz was at about the same quality. He showed fear and created a bit of an eerie aura around his character, still nothing particularly notable.

Aside from the atrocious writing, Jackie Earl Haley was probably the biggest disappointment of the film to me. I had really invested a lot of hope in him and I have seen him tackle a dark, demented character with such grace. He just didn’t bring that to the table here. I can deal with a new version of Freddy. I fully embrace Rob Zombie’s version of Michael Myers even though it is completely different from the mysterious masked man John Carpenter gave birth to. This Freddy Krueger is neither funny or scary, neither quick or suspenseful. Haley’s performance actually makes him seem slow and like he doesn’t have a quick witted cell in his body. Not to mention half of what he says doesn’t even make sense. This Freddy isn’t menacing or scary at all and it seems like most teenagers wouldn’t have a problem escaping from him without so much as breaking a sweat. Haley and Platinum Dunes collectively took what Freddy was and obliterated him. Haley will never be Freddy and this will never be a part of the true Elm Street series.

And that conclude the Co-review of Platinum Dunes re-imagining of A Nightmare on Elm Street Directed by Samuel Bayer. While I thought the film had it’s good points as well bad, my colleague did not care for it very much. However despite what you’ve read here between us it’s still up to you, the reader, to decide if you agree or disagree with any of the opinions laid out here, and if you’re still not sure then by all means take the leap of faith and find out for yourself. I want to thanks Kelsey Zukowski for taking the time to sit down and have this little chit-chat about one of the most talked about horror icons in cinema. We invite you to join Kelsey and I again as we debate it out like maniacs in the next edition of CRITIC VS. CRITIC! Coming Soon.