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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 Duke of Fluke

"Stephen King. Nazis. Bryan Singer. Scary, with a twist, OK?"
4 stars

I have to admit, this is one of the few Stephen King short stories that I never bothered to read, this and the now banned Rage (about a kid who brings a gun to school). Nazis, unless they're being whipped into submission by Dr. Jones, are always an uncomfortable subject to broach. And yet, this is Bryan Singer's choice of second film, and it's a cracker at that.

Young Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) is a smart kid, but he's got problems. He doesn't pay attention in class, he's no great fan of his parents and he's taken to stalking a frail old man. The old man, Kurt Dussander (Sir Ian McKellen), it turns out, was a Nazi in the SS, and worse than that, was one of the most evil bastards to have ever walked the earth. It's a testament to the kid's intelligence that he manages to identify him and track him down, because the whole world has been looking for him since the war ended. Using this knowledge as blackmail, Todd uses Kurt to tell him all the things that they won't tell him in school, and the two form an uneasy relationship.

It's a film about evil, essentially, but also about perception. McKellen's accent is flawless, as is the way he portays his frailty, but there's nothing frail about his mind, a fact that the kid overlooks, with some spooky consequences. See, Dussander is as cunning and venomous as he always was, and soon the kid loses control of the situation. There are cameos from Elais Koteas (a really unlucky bum) and David Scwhimmer as Todd's guidance counceller who gives an understated and subtle performance as he too gets dragged into the action.

At the end of the day, it's the story, strangely, that is the least satisfying element. Singer's direction is good, although without the panache of his first work (The Usual Suspects), but King's story, one of his earlier works, doesn't quite gel as it should. Perhaps it's the fact that the kid never really convinces us of his reasons for confronting that makes it unsatisfactory, or maybe it's Ian McKellen, one of the lovliest old queens in the acting world, who doesn't quite manage the evil he's supposed to be capable of. But one thing's certain - by the end of the film you just know that he kid will grow up to be whatever he wants to be, and will be damn successful at it. He has the stuff that Presidents are made of.

Apt Pupil is a creepy piece, with some uncomfortable moments, but with performances that more than take care of business. Another King movie, proving his versatility, another notch on Bryan Singer's belt and another new star for the future.

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originally posted: 12/16/99 12:41:03
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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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