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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.39%
Average: 18.66%
Pretty Bad: 21.64%
Total Crap: 5.22%

13 reviews, 56 user ratings

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Apt Pupil
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by Erik Childress

"Not the Most Compelling Stephen King Story"
3 stars

Apt Pupil (** Ĺ) - This is a hard film to review because it works and doesnít work in equal measure. Stephen King stories have always had a kind of love/hate relationship with the movies. His best works usually end up being the simpler ones - ones dealing with the existence of pure evil in reality, more than monsters and ghosts. Movies like Misery, Stand by Me, and The Shawshank Redemption stand out amongst Kingís reality based inspirations and Apt Pupil would seem like an obvious shot for a riveting film - but it fails because it isnít riveting - just a mild shake-up.

Ian McKellen is great as the ex-Nazi who starts re-visiting his past. But the Brad Renfro character is kind of a mystery. Why is he so fascinated with learning about this guyís true identity. It happens way too early in the film and thatís a mistake because we really have no idea whatís going on in this kidís head. For the first hour, the kid seems like a truly potential psycho and it becomes more of an exercise in spotting the bigger psychotic. Then, while itís not a particularly appealing topic, weíre not given that much information about the Naziís past. We get to hear one story and everything else becomes just assumed info as time passes with just a mere title card. A few shocking images early on suggest that the films stakes might be raised later, but they never really are and instead engages on basically a mano-a-mano blackmailing game that eventually amounts to much ado about nothing. The final 20 minutes did grip me, making me appreciate some of the earlier scenes which seemed, perhaps, a bit trivial. But then the film ends at perhaps the place where the real story should have begun.

I havenít read the original King novella, but Iíve heard itís quite good. Therefore I canít say how close the screenplay resembles it, but the film misses the boat due to the lackluster script which should have more meat to it. Bryan Singer brings the right mood to the story and the direction is on target, but itís a marginal pass because I was looking for a rivet instead of just a mild touch.

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originally posted: 02/15/00 15:49:36
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell loner becomes a nazi psycho killer skip it 1 stars
8/01/07 Donīt believe the movie-haters on this list - go check it out! TreeTiger 5 stars
7/16/07 Total Crap Average 3 stars
2/23/07 David Pollastrini I saw it but have no memory of it so it must have sucked 1 stars
10/10/06 Brian Excellent, manipulative sparring, another piece of magic from Stephen King 4 stars
7/13/06 Agent Sands I love seeing two horrible people being cleverly horrible to each other. 5 stars
4/21/06 pk i thougt it was too scary for a stephen king novella and movie 3 stars
5/27/05 Lord Haw Haw One too many coincidences. Collapses under its own weight. 2 stars
3/06/05 Danny Excellent film. 5 stars
6/20/04 El Capo Both sucks and blows 2 stars
3/23/04 Trannon Goble Spectacular 5 stars
12/22/03 Snickerdoodle Really moody and creepy, I'd like to see it again 4 stars
6/23/03 Jack Sommersby Unfocused and weakly acted by Renfro. 2 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon The best one-man marching sequence in the history of cinema. 4 stars
5/11/03 Charles Tatum Understood all of three words Ian spoke 2 stars
11/25/02 Kyle Slow mover, but an engaging film. 4 stars
9/16/02 John Wright brillian film . hits the spot 5 stars
4/21/02 R.W. Welch Plot line not credible, but that good old Steven King weirdness helps a lot. 4 stars
1/21/02 Andrew Carden It's Good To Make Fun Of...Could One Day Be A Victim Of MST2K. 3 stars
6/04/01 Basil They should have choosen the books ending. 2 stars
11/29/00 The Evil Penguin very creepy 4 stars
11/08/00 Romana twisted, creepy yet strangely engaging 4 stars
4/10/00 Yankee surreal, this is scary. The shower and uniform sequences were creepy. simply excellent 4 stars
12/17/99 Fork Structure, form, purpose? A Jedi needs not these plot elements. 2 stars
9/16/99 strike unjustly overshadowed by American History X. Do not let them fool you! This is better. 4 stars
9/08/99 Joe Goebbels Yes, all Nazis are cruel to animals, and skilled forgers to boot. Lots of laughs. 1 stars
8/26/99 Liza Poor Sir Ian McKellan doing his best Kenneth Mars from "The Producers" imitation Nazi accen 1 stars
7/12/99 ken heine the basement scene was cool. 2 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg This sucky shit just drags on and on; repellent characters; horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE. 1 stars
6/28/99 Stevie B. Pretty engaging, yet some pretty serious overacting going on here. Gets pretty eerie on you 3 stars
6/26/99 David There's some good stuff in here, but it's strangely soulless. You just don't care. 3 stars
6/03/99 Tristynn It was okay.. A bit draggy in parts.. the best they could do with a SK novel i guess... 3 stars
3/14/99 Ah Dooey Better than the rest of King's movies. 5 stars
12/29/98 The Dude mother fucking great. You'll never guess the ending 5 stars
12/28/98 Johny Slow and uninteresting. Major let down 2 stars
12/11/98 Mike McFarland maybe some of you read a different story..this was VERY tame compared to the King story 3 stars
12/10/98 Bryan Interesting movie showing the transformation from ignorance to hate. 3 stars
12/09/98 ee hogan' s heroes meets the dark half 3 stars
12/05/98 Shadow Raider Excellent flick, better than that Urban Legend shit. Get your ass to this movie! 5 stars
12/03/98 Kirgo Well crafted although very forced at times. 4 stars
11/25/98 Bad Kosh Hehehehe... 5 stars
11/24/98 Greensweater *yawn* 2 stars
11/20/98 Emma the worst movie i've seen since "the land before Time" 1 stars
11/17/98 StenoHead Probably the best possible movie about Stephen King's worst story ever. 3 stars
10/31/98 Specter Startling, not scary. 4 stars
10/28/98 Miss Stress you cannot walk away and no be disturbed, if you did you weren't paying attention. 5 stars
10/26/98 Pariah A major letdown...I wasn't frightened, I wasn't disturbed. I was, however, mildly bored. 3 stars
10/26/98 Chris I enjoyed it, I felt that it was pretty intense. 4 stars
10/25/98 Negative Creep Two good Performances in a picture that goes nowhere. 3 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool Unfortunately, the magic just wasn't on the page. A March movie. 3 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz director Bryan Singer falls flat with his dull adaptation 2 stars
10/13/98 {{{OZ}}} Moronb, if you haven't seen it, don't rate it. 5 stars
10/13/98 joseph renfro no no 2 stars
10/13/98 jym brad renfro=bad 1 stars
9/29/98 brian Excellent! Oscar contender material! 5 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee Sensational. Scary as hell, from the guy who directed Usual Suspects. Reeaaaaally good. 5 stars
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  23-Oct-1998 (R)


  15-Apr-1999 (MA)

Directed by
  Bryan Singer

Written by
  Brandon Boyce

  Ian McKellen
  Brad Renfro
  Joe Morton
  David Schwimmer
  Bruce Davison
  Elias Koteas

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