20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2002
First of all, Martin Scorcese is one of my favorite directors and I include movies like TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS among my most cherished films of all time. That being said, I cannot for the life of me figure why he chose to remake this 1962 classic which to me is tantamount to someone trying to remake one of his fine films mentioned above in another 10 or so years. It's almost unthinkable.
If you've never seen the original film, directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck, and you are someone who appreciates GREAT filmmaking, do yourself a favor and see the original. If you are a collector, BUY the original on DVD and add it to your collection. I PROMISE you will not be disappointed.
This 1991 version stars Robert DeNiro as Max Cady and I think he does a great job reprising and, in some none-too-subtle ways, updating on the character. Frankly I never expected less from an actor of DeNiro's abilities. But Robert Mitchum's Max Cady is truly one of the scariest and most disturbing portrayals of a villian in cinematic history. What makes Max Cady so terrifying is his believability; he is not simply an "evil rapist," this guy is a living, breathing nightmare in every sense. I think DeNiro captured a little of that quality too, but then took it too far over the top. Perhaps the only reason Mitchum never got an Oscar nod was that his performance was perhaps *too disturbing* for the times to even be considered back then, when Best Actor almost always meant the protagonist of the story.
As the Amazon.com editor states, comparing these two versions only proves to show how much more terror and suspense the original is able to achieve despite not being nearly as graphic or gratuitous with the on-screen violence. Especially compare the ending of the two films, where the original sizzles while the remake fizzles into a series of laughably forgettable cliches. The difference is one is a Classic from start to finish, while the other is an homage with earnest intentions and a good start that ultimately deteriorates into not much more than a gratuitously violent slasher film.
The only performance in the 1991 version I thought was intriguing and stood out from the original was Juliete Lewis as the daughter. Not necessarily better, but a more dynamic performance for that character. But if you really want to see a classic thriller that is a cut above the average from beginning to end, check out the original and you be the judge.
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2004
Very few thrillers stand out like Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear." It's a terrifying ride that frightens us to the very core. It shakes you violently and paints an intense picture of revenge that is taken to a whole different level. This is a dark and brutal film that doesn't let you off easy for a single second.
Attorney Sam Bowden appears to have the perfect life upon simple examination. He has a loving wife and daughter, a very nice home, and a pretty successful and providing career. Things take a drastic turn when Max Cady is released from prison after serving a term of fourteen years. Cady was once represented by Bowden and is now looking for a little payback, as he feels that his former attorney didn't do everything he possibly could to keep him out of prison. Now, Sam must realize the present danger that is before him, as not only is his life in absolute danger--but also his family and everybody else he loves and cares for. The stakes have never been higher.
This is an absolutely disturbing film that pulls no punches. It's a very uneasy movie to watch, and yet it is so well done that it is hard NOT to watch. Robert De Niro is extremely terrifying as the vengeful "Max Cady" who is out and about, looking to settle the score. This is definitely a signature role for De Niro, as this would be one of his many roles that he will be remembered for most. Nick Nolte also gives a remarkable performance that adds a human quality to his character. The movie is well written and is perfectly executed frame by frame. It plays like a Hitchcock film on ecstasy. Martin Scorsese flawlessly directs this horrifying picture and knows what strings to pull to get a reaction from us. Be warned, this is not a movie for those who have weak stomachs or faint hearts.
The DVD does a splendid job when it comes to doing the movie the justice that it deserves. The picture quality is great--it is such a relief that I don't have to deal with the terrible laserdisc version that had the most horrendous picture quality. The sound quality is also great, and you even get the chance to watch it in DTS, if your system carries it. There are some cool extras for DVD fanatics, with extras like featurettes, deleted scenes, production notes, a theatrical trailer and more. Surely, there will be some who will want more for a film of this caliber, but the overall presentation is more than satisfactory.
"Cape Fear" is a relentless thriller that is terrifying and suspenseful. The movie has an excellent cast, a great script, and an extremely talented director behind it all. Again, the movie is very intense and isn't recommended for those who have weak hearts and don't like scenes with graphic and disturbing violence. This is definitely a classic that will always be around in the fine world of cinema. -Michael Crane
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2002
I just watched this movie for the first time in a number of years and I'd forgotten how truly great it is. I'd been waiting for the DVD to come out. Cape Fear is a movie that needs to be seen in letterbox. In the documentary, Scorsese says it was the first time he filmed anamorphic because he'd hoped that widescreen televisions would soon be coming out.
What makes the DVD great is the long "making-of" documentary on disc 2. In it, Scorsese, all the actors, and the great screenwriter Wesley Strick go into great detail of every facet of the film and how the project evolved over the years (including the notorious "thumb-sucking" scene). I've read the book "The Executioners" upon which the movie is based, and I'm familiar with the original Peck/Mitchum version and I have to say that this film is the best of the three. Don't get me wrong - the original Cape Fear is a great movie and this version couldn't exist without it. However, this film is exponentially more complex and disturbing. The original story was a straightforward Good Guy/Bad Guy conflict. Nowhere was there a villain like the tattooed, Bible-quoting, Henry Miller-reading Max Cady as portrayed by DeNiro. Another especially inspired touch was to retain Bernard Herman's original score.
Whereas a zillion "psychological thrillers" have come and gone since Cape Fear came out, they have been forgotten and this remains a classic.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2005
Some people prefer the earlier version of Cape Fear starring Robert Mitchum as the serial stalker. I myself prefer the updated version. Not to take away from the original version which is far superior when comparing the critics reviews and the general public reaction to the movie at that time. No one in public had seen a movie (dating back to the mid-forties) reflecting the intensity of erotisism and passion Cape Fear did,unusual for that time period. I admire Martin Scorcesee and DeNiros longstanding tie which was a definite PLUS when re-creating the updated version of the 40's classic. I loved the casting. Superb casting. Nolte was great as usual, what a presense he is. Jessica Lang was wonderful, providing the natural warmth and realism the character needed to withstand the complex plot. I loved Julliette Lewis as the prepubescent and very charming only child Dahni, who challenged her loving but somewhat disfynctional mother and father to accept her. And finally Mr. DeNiro himslef. What can you say about DeNireo that has not been said already? Genious, YES. Person? YES. Actor? YES.....Bob rises to every occasion to put his heart and soul into every character he plays which is apparent in his every performance. He did not contradict in Cape Fear. True to his usual perfectionisim DeNiro studied the character type, became that character and made movie History once again.
I truly loved this movie. Hope you agree!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is yet another powerhouse brought to movie-lovers by none other than director Marty Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro. YAY!!! I love these guys!!
The film is about a newly released con named Max Cady(De Niro) who ventures out into the world he's been out of for 14 years with one mission in mind: to make his ex-lawyer, Sam Bowden(Nick Nolte) and his family pay. Ya see, our fearless, law-obiding lawyer here purposely withheld evidence during Cady's trial that would've set him free. Sam broke the law to remove a rapist from society.
Cady went in the bighouse just an illiterate man from Atlanta, but came out a sociopathic avenging angel complete with Biblical expressions tattooed on his skin. He also learned to read and read everything from philosophy to law books. He plans his reckoning the day of his release.
Sam, unbeknownst to Cady's release, is dealing with dilemmas of his own. He still lives with the guilt of Cady's trial along with suspicions of unfaithful actions from his wife, Leigh.(Jessica Lange)He also must contend with the fact that his teenage, MTV-oriented daughter, Danielle (Juliette Lewis) was recently expelled from school for smoking marijuana. As you can see, the Bowden family is anything BUT functional. So it's that withering stability that provides more fuel to Max's scorching fire.
Max deals with each member of the Bowden family individually. He confronts Sam, promising that he's gonna learn about loss. He has a moment with Leigh when she retrieves her mail, and then tries to manipulate Danielle in her school's drama pit. Max even roughs up Sam's "mistress," Lori. All of these encounters come together in one last stormy show-down on Cape Fear.
De Niro is very show-y in this film with his elaborate tattoos, Southern accent, long hair and muscular body. It's a twist of the old cliche that evil is always grotesque. That's hardly so for De Niro's characterization of Maximillian Cady. His actions ARE grotesque and disturbing, but not his appeal. He's attractive man...who just happens to be evil.He's just fun to watch, from beginning to end. Marty couldn't have found anyone else to do it better.
Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, and Juliette Lewis give awesome performances, too. I applauded Juliette Lewis the most though. She really carried her own weight for this film. Gotta give her a lotta kudos for that...especially for the 9-minute drama-pit sequence. Whoa!
Martin Scorsese's direction and Thelma Schoonmaker's fantastic editing make this movie even more worthwhile. It's genius!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2002
Martin Scorsese is a brilliant director! He took the original masterpiece of revenge and suspense and updated it. In this more intense and graphically violent 90s version, cigar smoking, Southern ex-con, Max Cady, sets out to slowly destroy his former attorney, Sam Bowden. Fourteen years ago, Sam was Cady's lawyer, defending him on the crime of rape. Sam saw what Max had done to this girl, and so, when a report came in that the girl was promiscuous, Sam buried it. The report would have lightened Max's sentence, but instead he was sent to prison for an elongated stretch. Now Max is back for vengeance. His body is a human weapon, with huge muscles and extensive tattooing. The tattoos illustrate his interest in the Bible, especially the gigantic Crucifix on his back. Max Cady sees that the Bowden family is dysfunctional, so, before completly destroying Sam, he wants to have some fun with the family. In a particularly inspirational scene, he seduces Sam's daughter, Danielle. The showdown on Cape Fear River is much more scary and thrilling than the one in the original. Robert De Niro does a superb job as Max Cady, Juliette Lewis does wonderfully as Danielle, and Joe Don Baker is great as Kersek. Robert Mitchum is a good cameo, and so is Gregory Peck. Nick Nolte is pretty good too. He's pretty believable. Jessica Lange seemed to overdo it just a little, but she still did pretty good. This is a totally different thing than the original, and both are equal in greatness. I recommend this movie for thriller/horror fans, but I also strongly precaution younger children not to watch this. And, for those with a really weak stomach, don't watch this right after or before you have eaten. Great movie! The extra features on the DVD are great. The Photograph Montage features clips of Robert De Niro's Max Cady, the Cast of Cape Fear, and photos of Martin Scorsese directing Cape Fear. The Making of Cape Fear is insightful for those who wish to be in the movie business, and it features interviews with De Niro, Lewis, Lange, Scorsese, Peck, and Nolte. An especially interesting element of the making tells how Robert De Niro got pumped up for the part. The theatrical trailer is probably the best movie trailer I've scene. It starts out with picturesque beauty and lovely music, then quickly transforms into the thrills. The DVD is wonderful, and the movie is inspirational.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Who says old movies can't look good? Don't come here for a plot summary or my opinions on the cast and acting. Yes, there is a great cast and DeNiro still in his acting prime while Jessica Lange is growing into hers and Nick Nolte still a highly valued actor in his own right and a young Juliette Lewis starts on her road to stardom. Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck do small cameos reprising their presence from the original film
This is just a review of the transfer and remastering of this film on Blu Ray. Since I have not seen any other versions of Cape Fear on Blu Ray I do not know how good or bad the old ones were. However, this Universal release shows just how good a transfer can be when the company puts some effort into creating a decent product. Unlike many transfers to blu ray which are only format transfers with no audio or video improvements, Cape Fear is a fine example of what can be done with older films.
The video transfer is great in all ways. Beautiful color saturation and desaturation where appropriate, absolutely no grain that I could see, nor artifacts and aliasing. Some of the matte work showing off a red sky was obvious to me but that was not the fault of the transfer at all.
The audio is now DTSHD 5.1 that shows off a fine front stage for the music score. More dialogue driven than most might expect, the use of the rears is most infrequent but some audio panning along with a touch of discreet directionality during the thunderstorm is still present. Audio levels are finely balanced so set your volume and watch an older film that has legs even after all these years.
While I do not also have the standard def version of Cape Fear, all I can say is that if you liked the movie, which I did, than you won't regret getting this remastered version on Blu Ray. Props to Universal to giving us the quality we paid for.
All my movie reviews are of this nature and focus only on the quality of the transfer to BluRay so check them and see if they are of help as well.
Hopefully, this review has been of some help to you in determining your purchase, hope I am on the correct path with a review of the transfer quality as opposed to providing plot summaries.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Director Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear(1991) is an homage to the 1962 film. Gus Van Sant made the mistake of making a carbon copy clone of Hitchcock's Psycho in 1998. This Cape Fear remake was up-to-date! There's foul language, bloody violence, and a tame sex scene! There's a scene where Nick Nolte slips in human blood! Max Cady(Robert De Niro) is released from jail and he plans on getting even with lawyer Sam Bowden(Nick Nolte). Peggy and Nancy Bowden's names have been changed to Leigh and Danielle. In the original Cape Fear, Sam Bowden's family was happy and solid. In the remake, Sam is cheating on his wife and Danielle is unhappy and experimenting with hard drugs. Max Cady's threats toward them are a "wake up call". Max Cady is much more megalomaniacal and dangerous in this remake. Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, and Martin Balsam make cameo appearances in this remake. Joe Don Baker plays Kersek.
Elmer Bernstein adapts Bernard Herrmann's score from the original Cape Fear as well as two unused music cues from Torn Curtain(1966). This remake is shot in anamorphic, widescreen format and enhanced with some special effects and surround sound. Sam Bowden's houseboat is rocked by a storm in this remake. That didn't happen in the original. There's a scene where Max Cady hides under a moving car. This was spoofed on The Simpsons. Jessica Lange is quite good as Leigh. Juliette Lewis is good as Danielle Bowden. In the original Cape Fear, Max Cady scared Nancy by chasing her at school. This remake has a similar scene where Max Cady tries to earn Danielle's trust at school. The flashy editing from this Cape Fear remake has been imitated in movies made after 1991. Robert De Niro gives a sincere, over the top performance as ex-con Max Cady. Nick Nolte is solid as Sam Bowden. I like the scene where Max Cady gets hot water splashed in his face and doesn't blink. Also, he acts like a jerk during a screening of Problem Child(1990). Cape Fear(1991) is a solid remake and a solid suspense-thriller.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Please describe the audio/video quality of any Blu-Ray you review. Thanks to those who do this.
The video quality was great. I didn't see any grain, except for the movie in the movie theater. I give it a 9.2 on a 10.0 scale.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio was also great.
The movie was about 2 hours long. The aspect ratio was 2.35:1.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2003
Robert De Niro's best performance is his terrifying portrayal of vicious psycho Max Cady, hell-bent on vengeance on his lawyer, Sam Bowden (played by Nick Nolte) who didn't defend him as well as he should of during a rape case. De Niro is clearly playing the part with as much relish as possible. His Southern accent, chilling laugh, Biblical tattoos, and the violent actions he brings to screen make him one of the most memorable villains in cinema. Not only that, but he is a believable one too, not too over-the-top. He's insane near the end, yes, but he is realistic. Nick Nolte gives a fairly good performance to Sam Bowden, Jessica Lange is good as Leigh, and Juliette Lewis gives a remarkable performance as Danielle Bowden, the emotionally-tortured teenage daughter of Sam and Leigh. The way the film uses seduction and betrayal as major themes is a key element. Director Martin Scorsese gives this film a classic horror feeling, paying special homage to the 1962 original by having Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, and Martin Balsam (all in the original) play cameo roles in this box-office remake. Not to mention, Scorsese wisely chose the same eerie score from the original film. This is a wonderful film, and it is horrifying. There is some graphic violence that is quite disturbing (particularly the scene in which Cady mutilates a woman in her apartment), but if that doesn't bother you, than you'll love this film. If you enjoy clever, intellectual psychological thrillers with LOTS of suspense, you'll love "Cape Fear".