From his book Essential Cinema.
Twilight Zone: The Movie
You're travelling through another dimension. A dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!
Four directors collaborated to remake four episodes of the popular television series 'The Twilight Zone' for this movie. The episodes are updated slightly and in color (the television show was in black-and-white), but very true to the originals, where eerie and disturbing situations gradually spin out of control. "A Quality of Mercy", "Kick the Can", "It's a Good Life", and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".
For the past 20 years of my life I've had a tradition of watching a marathon of Twilight Zone episodes on television on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. This obviously started because of the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel, as they've always aired the show on those two days.
I grew up watching this movie as well and I've memorized it from start to finish, but I still enjoy watching it (with the obvious exception of Steven Spielberg's crappy, out-of-place "magical negro" segment).
I love the cartoonish set and FX used in Joe Dante's segment [the 3rd, "It's a Good Life"] and the performances of Nancy Cartwright and Kevin McCarthy, too bad the little boy, "Anthony" can't hold a candle to…
The Twilight Zone is kind of an interesting choice for a big blockbuster adaptation, as it isn't one of its (iconic) production elements or characters that resonate with audiences as much as that "holy shit" moment when you figure out that they were never on Earth to begin with or that it's the rest of the world who's disfigured and she's actually beautiful!
But these filmmakers do an okay job of it anyway for the most part, with only Spielberg's segment providing a real drag. I haven't seen the episode it's based on, but I can say that it seems like an attempt by Spielberg to try and distil his very worst qualities as a filmmaker with none of the…
That last segment is a true work of art, the reason to watch, and one of the scariest imaginations to put into the mind of a child, as it did to me. John Lithgow brings pent-up demands for thunder, for the first hour and fifteen didn't hold up well at all. The John Landis one is the most unforgivable and should have never saw final cut. It's repetitive and crass too, especially with the tragic accident in mind. The Spielberg segment might as well be outright parody and the Joe Dante story was typically goofy and a little tired. The prologue is fun but reliant on dated references. Overall, an interesting stroll down Nostalgia Lane, but it does not do justice to the show even for a second.
Four classic directors, John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller team up to do a combination of short pieces to celebrate and renew interest in "The Twilight Zone".
So we have John "Blues Brothers/American Werewolf" Landis and everyone-knows-Steve as the well-known names. Meanwhile Joe Dante (having so far only released Piranha and The Howling) and George Miller of Mad Max fame, are the relative newcomers.
John Landis does an okay job. He's responsible for the long-winded intro which, admittedly, ends quite well. He also does the first story about a bigot who finds himself in the shoes of those he wished to ridicule. It's all a bit daft, but its quite effective. Having an anti-semite running away from…
A certain amount of give-and-take is expected from an anthology film, particularly one updating one of the great left-field anthology series, but the lopsided quality and tone of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE is a drag. At least, it is for its first half: Landis' heavy-handed fable about intolerance aims for the kind of high-concept, easily digested irony that made the show great, but its erratic pacing and glib reflexive humor (har har a Niedermeyer joke!) dilutes the impact. Further, the show relied on one gut punch, but Landis barely gets five minutes in before turning his racist protagonist's world upside down, and even then he keeps escalating. It turns a final train to Auschwitz into the climax of an action…
Prologue = 81/100
Segment 1 (John Landis) = 87/100
Segment 2 (Steven Spielberg) = 59/100
Segment 3 (Joe Dante) = 84/100
Segment 4 (George Miller) = 87//100
Movie as a whole = 80/100
Out of time-3.5
Kick the can-3
A good life-4
Terror at 20,000 feet-5
Three awesome stories and one disappointing segment...
Full review located at:
The best segment resulted in the death of its star and 2 child actors. What does that say for the rest?
Prologue - The hideous creature Dan Ackyrod turned into still haunt me till this day. It definitely scarred me back in the days when I was least expecting what was about to transpire.
Time Out - The plot definitely seems out of place in modern context. Definitely not worth Vic Morrow and the 2 kids to die tragically for this segment.
Kick the Can - A bit like "Cocoon" with a Spielberg who was burning to make a film like "Hook".
It's a Good Life - A pre-Gremlins Joe Dante definitely worked in his VFX while instilling a lot of the suburban sensibility like many of his Amblin contemporaries.
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet - Still stood out as my favorite segment perhaps due to the performance of John Lithgow, the confined manic of the plane at that altitude and George Miller's ability to orchestrate the chaos.
every director gives each of the episodes their own flavor
the messages are straightforward, and ultimately it's just a really fun and nostalgic movie
Man, I will say that it led me to wanting to check out the series, which may be the only positive thing I could say. It seems so strange to make this film since there is no connective tissue and it just plays like four episodes of the show back to back. The segments do get better as they go along but they are quite obvious in the direction they are going and nothing really shocks or surprises like I feel it should.
Liked with EXTREME reservations. The first two shorts are abysmal. Landis' work is ham-fisted at best and worryingly tone deaf at worst. Spielberg presents the worst pablum he's ever been capable of. Then Joe Dante storms in and blows the doors of the place with an absolutely glorious, twisted gonzo cartoon of a segment that immediately gets this thing up on its own two feet. George Miller brings things home with a little bit of his particular brand of adrenaline fueled suspense, expanding the cramped space of an airplane to an entire contained universe of dread. Also helps that Lithgow is pitch perfect as his leading man, playing the tone exactly right.
It's almost as if they had this film in mind when designing fast forward buttons.
Cool compilation of Twilight Zone segments directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante & George Miller.
CHRONOLOGICAL SPIELBERG-A-THON APPENDIX #3:
I can't believe people died for this movie.
The film opens with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks whooping it up, having great ol', irritatingly good time. But it's not fun to watch, it's grossly self indulgent and in a lot of ways sets up the rest of the movie; this is a movie made for the people making it, not the audience watching it.
On the Spielberg tip - his segment, the film's only non-horror entry, revolves around a "magical negro" character. So, way to go on that one Steve.
The best segment is George Miller's take on the iconic 'Gremlin on the wing of a plane' episode staring a delightfully over the top John Lithgow.
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