Some people will drop stars in their reviews because of comparing it to the original which they love. Well, I'm adding a star because I love John Carpenter. In all honesty this is a three star movie but if like me your a John Carpenter fan you should add a star. This is because all the best things about this movie are things that Carpenter directly influenced or added to the original. So what's the main problem that stops this being a five star movie? Well there is very little to the story, so much so that the brief synopsis on the back of the DVD felt like a spoiler. The original was often interpreted as exploring the threat of communism, whereas this one has been described by Christopher Reeve as being about our de-sensitivity to violence and how this has caused the human race to develop a lack of empathy. Sounds good written down but it's not as prevalent as it should be in the film. Perhaps its due to a lack of scenes with the interesting character of the Priest played by Mark Hamil (Superman and Luke Skywalker in the same movie was an appeal but they don't really share any scenes and Hamil and his character are really underused). Or that there are no real red herrings, plot twists, or suspicious characters. So there isn't much going on with the story and that's a shame as it's the backbone of all films. However, on the plus side the film is excellent in almost all other aspects. Performances are brilliant and I believed Reeve and Hamil who are iconic for larger than life characters were these little small town people scared and unprepared for this event. Of special note is the leader of the children a little girl who gives a great performance reminiscent of Kirsten Dunst in 'Interview With The Vampire' someone wise, manipulative and strong but trapped in a child's body. Now to Carpenter, he creates some amazing visuals within this film, the framing, the camera movements, the editing, the way the children walk and stand within the frame in such a precise way. When the entire town falls unconscious a lesser director would have done a montage of people falling over, cars and bicycles crashing ect but Carpenter just shows the aftermath, the stillness, and let's our imagination fill in the blanks and it works wonderfully. Carpenter does the score again but it's very different from some of his previous scores, less electronic and loud but more choir based and it creates this underlying tension that's really effective. Special effects were cutting edge back in 1995 and they still look great in 2012, I found them very impressive and effective. These special effects play an important part in the story and they work really well. Interestingly for a film made in 95 it feels very 80s. I don't mean that as a negative but it is reminiscent of the many Steven King adaptations that came out in the 80s and the cast features some big 80s stars.
Special features on this edition are a let down, only production notes, bios and trailer but this is made up for by the excellent sound and picture quality which are a very high DVD standard.
Overall, Carpenter fans will find plenty to enjoy from a stylistic perspective but it's story lacks any real surprises.