Exorcist: The Beginning
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Many years ago, Todd Rundgen attempted to purchase the Muzak corporation so he could destroy it. In a way, I wish I could purchase the rights to The Exorcist from Warner Brothers, just to bury it somewhere safe, never to see the light of day again.
Or maybe (and remember to email me when you see someone steal this idea, so I can sue their pants off) I could use the license for part 1 of my "Three Eyed Monster" series, where 3 independent film directors are given the same classic horror novel and $40,000 to make a movie based on the book. The 3 movies are packaged together and sold with a reprint of the book (bound the same size as a DVD case) for $24.99. You could read the book, then watch 3 different director's vision of the same book. Brilliant! Warner? Showtime? Shoot me an email and let's talk.
Whoa, who the hell's steering this train? We're in the middle of a review here! Where were we?
To this day, the original Exorcist is one of my favorite movies of all time. I saw it for the first time at the age of 14, and it scares me still.
The sequels however, well, I loved the first movie enough to watch them all. But that's the extent of our relationship.
Like a dumbass fan, I was sucked into all the hype when The Beginning was being filmed. Paul Schrader originally filmed this sequel, and then Morgan Creek opted to scrap his version and completely redo it with Renny Harlin at the wheel. So I'm thinking, 'wow, they must really care about the fans if they'd spend all that money and redo the whole thing'. What a load of crap!
And lo, so the crap continued.
Before Father Merrin kicked all sorts of demon ass in the original film, he had a run in with the demon Pazuzu in his carefree, younger days. This time played by the fun luvin' Stellan Skarsgard (Cedric, in King Arthur).
By carefree and younger, I'm referring to his stint as an archeologist, after he had hung up the priest's collar for an Indiana Jones hat and a filthy glass of what used to be hootch. Some bad stuff happened to him as a priest in Nazi Germany, so he called it a day and headed off to the desert on a horse with no name.
What about the plot you say? Well, there's a lot of weirdness going on, and it's sort of held together around the edges by some wide angle shots. Let's see if I've got it covered:
-The aforementioned Nazi flashbacks
-A buried church where it shouldn't be
-A plague that killed everyone (but they were buried somehow?)
-CGI hellhounds that eat a kid, really bad CGI too!
-Merrin battling with his inner demons while fighting the, um, outer demons
-That silly demon Pazuzu out to beat some ass
-Catholic mythology kicks African mythology's ass
-Ladies, listen up, being possessed is hell on the complexion, but it'll add at least a cup size
Throw in some fire, blood, flies, and a maggot covered fetus, and you've got yourself a movie!
It wasn't all bad. There are some really cool background shots, and it's kind of fun finding all the references to other movies, not only the original Exorcist. It's like a "Where's Waldo" of the damned. Post them in the comments as you find them.
The symbolism and normally subtle character devlopment are painted with some seriously heavy strokes. It's nice once in a while not to think too hard while watching a movie, but c'mon! Yeah, we get it, the crucifix is supposed to be right side up, when it's not, bad stuff happens.
Did this movie need to be made? Were there things about the character of Merrin that needed to be explored to truly understand the original film? This fan says yes. He's a complicated SOB, and this story does give some insight into why he's so damned bitter, but also why he has such strong faith in God (the grand daddy of all demon ass kickers).
I'd like to see Paul Schrader's version, and it should have been included as an extra on the DVD (oh, but Scraps, then they couldn't come out with the 2nd anniversary 3 DVD set next year, don't be stingy, buy both versions).
Overall, it was far from the worst movie I've ever seen (probably "Hardware" for those of you keeping score at home) but a diehard fan of the original film keeps the bar pretty high for sequels. If you have to choose between watching this, scrubbing grout in the tub, or a movie about a talking animal, give it a try. just don't expect too much and you might just walk away satisfied.
Added: Thursday, April 21, 2005
Language: eng[ Did you find this review helpful? Yes No ]
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