Archive | September, 2011

Review of 12 Angry Men (1997)

30 Sep

12 Angry Men (1997) is a courtroom drama/crime  television film, based on the same teleplay as the 1957 film of the same name.

Directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971)).

Written by Reginald Rose (Man of the West (1958), The Wild Geese (1978)).

Starring: Jack Lemmon, James Gandolfini, George C. Scott, Tony Danza, Hume Cronyn, William Petersen, Edward James Olmos and others.

Well, this is one absolutely unnecessary remake, that managed to really piss me off. I honestly can’t believe this won a Golden Globe and 2 Emmy’s. The 1957 original in my opinion is one of the best movies ever made, the character interactions, the tension, the morality, the cinematography of it is executed with such craftsmanship and precision, that you forget any leaps of logic or other flaws that your mind might suggest, because your heart is in the dilemma the characters face.

The film is about twelve jurors, who have to decide the fate of the accused in at first glance seemingly clear case.

The main problem with this is that it doesn’t do anything new. The updated script doesn’t help the feeling that the source material is dated. The racial diversity doesn’t add anything much and I didn’t notice how there was added enough for the movie to be 20 minutes longer than the original. Ok, that’s not entirely true, it did make the whole thing seem a lot slower, if messing up the pacing was what they’re going for, then congrats, you did it. The original had this urgency and they occasionally went to the restroom, which allowed characters to ponder their decision and the audience to take a breath, here the actors just seem to go through it with a “let’s get this over with” attitude.

William Friedkin is a pretty good director but this felt amateurish. It’s hard to believe this made-for-tv waste of time came from a director, who made such a genre classic as The Exorcist and won an Oscar for The French Connection. The movie was the opposite of anything “fresh”, the word I’d use is not often used to describe films, but this movie felt “stale”.

George C. Scott doesn’t even come close to Lee J. Cobb’s performance in the original and his breakdown at the end is so overacted and the comments from the other jurors come across as heavy-handed and cheesy. James Gandolfini is underused. William Petersen and Tony Danza would’ve worked better if they switched their parts. All the acting is forced like every line they’re saying is so damn important as if it’s a play and you have to make sure the last rows understand what you’re saying. These are good actors, Jack Lemon, Edward James Olmos? What are they doing here?

I also don’t get why they decided to radically increase the ages of the characters. I’ll give you two progressions of the ages of actors at the time of portraying the characters in both versions.

12 Angry Men (1957) – 32,33,35,37,38,41,43,46,52,52,56,75

12 Angry Men (1997) – 36,37,40,44,46,47,50,67,70,72,80,86

Oh, yeah, you know what would be cool? Let’s make half of the jury senior citizens! It’s not that I’m just pissed about the actors being older, but the only reason for this movie to be made is to update it to modern views, but it ends up just the same only with some race, nationality and religion related remarks thrown in, the increased age of the characters only adds to the feeling of senility.

Overall, I totally hated it, the only thing it has that the original didn’t have is color, yet I’d say the 1957 movie was a lot more colorful  and rich than this washed out crap. Definitely not recommended.

“And that’s what is going to happen to the boy if we send him to prison. Ok, Ossie, you can pull it out now.”