Monday, July 9, 2018

Short Attention Span Review - Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Short Attention Span Review - Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

It is hard to look back at this one without acknowledging the tragedy that occurred during the making of the film, with Vic Morrow and two child actors perishing in a helicopter accident that also injured at least half a dozen others.  In addition to the heartbreaking toll, there were allegations of negligence, lengthy legal battles, and settlements, all of which only underscores how much this sad occurrence impacted the industry as a whole, much less the movie in question.  Still, I want to rate this one based on its merits, and while it is decidedly a mixed bag, it is a nice homage to the classic television show that has such an incredible legacy in the realm of science fiction.  There are four tales and a wraparound to consider, with the wraparound and the first story coming from John Landis.  The wraparound is one of my favorite things about the picture, and the first story is maybe the most powerful given the potent subject matter--and, unfortunately, it also carries a bit more weight because it is the segment wherein tragedy struck during the making of Twilight Zone: The Movie.  The second entry comes from none other than the mighty Spielberg, but I feel that it is the least striking.  The director goes heavy on whimsy and melancholy and he surely engineers a touching piece.  Hey, I love a nice feel-good moment as much as anyone, but it just doesn't fit with the vibe of the series as a whole (it is more in the Amazing Stories vein, which makes sense, I guess), and it is definitely at odds with the tone of this movie.  The third tale is a serious powerhouse from Joe Dante, and it is absolutely incredible, though George Miller somehow raised the bar with the final segment.  It is his "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" that the picture is best known for, and that piece hasn't lost any of its considerable momentum and tension.  It is a true masterpiece within the anthology format, and it should forever ensure this film of a legacy of its own in spite of its troubled history.  As a whole, Twilight Zone: The Movie is a gripping odyssey that is worthy of its title, and it offers viewers four unique journeys into a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.

Final Grade: B-

None of the stories are bad, and three of the four are certainly worthwhile.  There can be little doubt, however, that the fourth and final entry in this anthology soars above the others.

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