Friday, June 7, 2013

FIlm Review: The Dead Zone (1983)

The Dead Zone (Review)
United States/1983
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) is a young teacher who is madly in love with his colleague, Sarah. After a day of fun with Sarah, Johnny declines an invitation to stay the night and drives away into the storming night. As he drives, a tanker is detached and Johnny crashes. Five years later, Johnny awakens from a coma with the power to see the past and future of anyone he physically contacts.

Johnny's new power is initially a curse. He's badgered by reporters and fans, and he also sees nightmarish visions of the past and future. Concurrently, the love of his life quickly moved on - Sarah is a wife and mother. At one point, he agrees to help the sheriff find a serial killer, which ends in Johnny further questioning his powers. As things get progressively worse and a serious moral dilemma arises, Johnny begins to realize the potential of his power.

I really enjoyed the story in The Dead Zone. The concept is unique and interesting, although not fully fleshed-out or explained. I like the different examples the film goes through. Johnny can either keep his visions to himself, use them for good, or even use them push away the people that badger him. The situations he's placed in continue to escalate until he has to question whether his power is a gift or a curse. If you could kill Hitler and alter history, would you? An oddly compelling and thought-provoking question, but effective, nonetheless. The ending of the film was great - very different from my expectations - but it was a bit abrupt.

Christopher Walken is great in this film as Johnny. He shows a wide range of emotion from happiness to frustration, and he really plays the character authentically. Martin Sheen appears during the final act, and, although he did a competent job, he really wasn't a well-fitted or believable politician - the corruption was there, but the charisma was absent. The rest of the cast was also great. The music was fantastic, really matched the SciFi/Thriller mood. The direction and editing were very smooth and consistent.

Overall, The Dead Zone is a fantastic SciFi thriller. The concept is original and interesting, the acting is great, the music is exceptional, and the film is all-around entertaining. I highly recommend The Dead Zone.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, and brief nudity.

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