The Crazies (2010)
starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, and Danielle Panabaker
directed by Breck Eisner
screenplay by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright
Alliance Films (2010)
I haven't seen the original version of The Crazies by George Romero, so I can't judge whether the remake is better or worse like a lot of other people have. All I can really say is that I liked this version.
It's not exactly a zombie movie, but it presents a threat that comes in a form similar to the modern day zombie--fast, aggressive, and more viral than necromantic. In this movie, the Midwest American town is threatened by an outbreak that causes the townsfolk to gradually go--wait for it--crazy. They start out a bit dazed and out of sorts, but then they turn violent in shockingly malevolent ways, as if their inhibitions and suppressed outrage are let out of the proverbial cage. To bring this kind of twist to the whole rabid horde of humanity is a welcome addition in the 21st century, as far as I'm concerned, even if it is brought about through a remake of a 70s film.
The casting is just about pitch perfect for a movie of this sort. A lot of the supporting cast is comprised of cardboard cutouts, yes, but the actors playing them offer up enough small town charm to each that I didn't really mind at all. And when the movie is looking at an entire town's population being threatened, it's kind of hard to give every jeezly character a fleshed-out backstory.
After catching the first season of Deadwood last year--I'm currently wading through the second season this fall--I have become a bit of a fan of Timothy Olyphant's work. He brings enough of his lawman character from that show into this modern day setting, and tempers him with the contentment and tranquility of modern America, that it feels like a wholly separate character. Mind you, seeing the news on television, it might be reasonable to assume that the townsfolk in the film would go as easily outhouse crazy over news of a mosque being built rather than a virus leaking into their water supply.
Speaking of the Tea Party, the whole government takeover thing is readily apparent in the film, but it doesn't bog down the pace too much. Thankfully, Breck Eisner saw fit to show the authorities similarly incompetent in containing the outbreak as the real-life government was in aiding Hurricane Katrina victims. The meat of the story lies in a small group of people trying to survive long enough to make it out of town before the catastrophe becomes inescapable.
If you have seen the original film, chances are you prefer it to this modern interpretation. Me, I'm coming from the other direction. Now I want to see the original to see just how relevant it is to my modern sensibilities. I've heard some say the original is better, and I've heard a few others who say it hasn't stood the test of time. For now, I would say this would be a fine movie to watch on Halloween if you haven't already seen it.