Urban legend time. You watch this video. It's creepy. Then,
the phone rings. A voice says that in seven days, you die.
Maybe, you want to panic now...
I loved the original Japanese movie of The Ring. It
wasn't just supremely creepy. It made me count out the days
for a week after I'd seen it. It made me avoid the phone.
Even now, I get shudders just thinking about it.
when the disc of this US remake landed on the doormat, I felt
a different kind of fear - after all, when Hollywood steals
from another culture, it usually screws up the end result,
right royally. And I'd been primed. US remakes are usually
at their most profoundly shite when you notice that the source
of the original is not credited on the poster, and that had
also been the case here during the Dreamworks version's theatrical
all those preconceptions lowered my expectations. I can't
be 100% sure. But, instead of just under two hours torture,
Gore Verbinski's version impressed me.
Ehren Kruger's crisp and appropriately cynical script does
a good job of moving the tale into a US milieu, helped no
end by his choice of location, an autumnal Seattle. If you
want to know what Nirvana were moaning about and why Microsoft
programmers leave so many bugs in their software, just take
a trip to Washington state in October or November. You want
oppressive - welcome to the city that regards the description
as a complement.
Naomi Watts also does well in the lead role. She has to carry
the film almost single handedly as the journalist who starts
researching a story and then finds herself in an apparent
race against time to solve a mystery and save her family.
This Aussie-trained actress understands the concept of character
development - and, boy, does she get you on her side.
the most impressive stuff on view is Verbinski's camerawork.
Directors with a fetish for pointless dolly shots, speeded-up
takes and other visual jiggery-pokery are usually major league
irritants. The real challenge is in knowing when to turn the
flashy stuff on and off - and here, Verbinski gets the balance
just right. He's just as comfortable holding a close-up for
an U-N-C-O-M-F-O-R-T-A-B-L-Y long time as he is weaving his
Steadicam. Whatever is necessary or appropriate as long as
it keeps you unnerved.
surprising is that Verbinski's background is mainly in family
entertainment. His best known film before this was Mouse
Hunt (a must, incidentally, for Christopher Walken fans),
and he's helming this Summer's big Disney release, The
Pirates of the Caribbean. That said, you need someone
with a wicked sense of humour to make this kind of material
work, so maybe he is not that offbeat a choice after all.
There is not that much changed in the film in terms of structure
from Japan to the US - and checking out that synopsis above,
just how much is there to change anyway. But the fact that
the story can still shock and surprise those familiar with
it gives this revisioning rare credit.
the Region 1 DVD release, you don't actually get that much,
although in some respects you feel it's all part of the game.
Let's be coy, let's not reveal too much, let's keep them guessing.
Given the film's final in-yer-face shot, you can see what
Verbinski et al are getting at (unless, that is, they do a
Bryan Singer and try to squeeze more box-office from fans
with yet another special edition this autumn).
big extra you do get is a 20-minute short, culled from clips
from the film, out-takes and deleted scenes, which has been
edited together as a sort of 'Demon's cut' of the video nasty
at the centre of this movie cult. And they've done a pretty
good job, too. Also on board are the options of Dolby 5.1
or a much meatier DTS mix. But that is pretty much your lot.
disc is still worth a few bucks, however, although you should
still get the original in your collection as well. Given the
nature of the tale, the irony is that, in both versions, The
Ring does hold up well to repeated viewing!
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