2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An ultimately dissappointing adaptation of Martin Cruz Smith's excellent book,
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
This film was a problematic endeavor based on the far superior book. For whatever reason - perhaps because of the misguided criticism (it was a work of fiction after all) the author was taking from some academics - the Hopis and Navajos of Martin Cruz Smith's book were changed to fictional Nation names for the film. This somewhat undermines the audience's connection between the movie's characters and their Southwest surroundings right from the start. Worse, however, was the decision to cast actors of European/American descent to play several roles that could have gone to American Indian actors. For some reason this is still occasionally done with indigenous characters, and it remains a bizarre mistake. While Stephen Macht and Nick Mancuso turned in fine performances, actual indigenous actors would have been much more appropriate. . .even casting unknowns. David Warner also did ok, but some of his dialogue was amped up too much for the film and created a character that is occasionally over the top. The early meeting with Youngman in the Hogan seemed particularly poorly executed and needlessly changed from the dialogue of the book. Many scenes also feel rushed.
The bat effects in the film are well known and not for their strengths. Carlo Rambaldi had a solid reputation at the time he was chosen to helm the effects for this film, but for whatever reason he dropped the ball entirely in this picture. The effects range from mediocre to bad, even for the time. The film came out when critics were chomping at the bit to tear up anything reminiscent of "Jaws" - so the weak effects provided additional fodder. On the bright side, Henry Mancini's soundtrack is quite good and atmospheric. Arthur Hiller's direction, while unlikely to win any awards for the film, was not as bad as some critics claimed. George Clutesi brought a desperately needed indigenous presence to the film and executed his limited character with talent. While disappointing, this was still much better than the unrelated, horrendous film "Bats" that came out twenty years later. The "manufactured on demand" DVD-R from Amazon is a nice print of Nightwing. Visually the film looks great on the disc. My three stars are based on both the visual quality of the DVD-R version and the strong points of the film itself.
Very few bad films deserve a second chance, but if you are familiar with the book Nightwing, you are probably aware of that story's untapped potential. I would like to see this film remade, with an even closer adherence to the storyline while still set in the time it was written, with more indigenous actors in the key roles. Improved special effects certainly wouldn't hurt. It isn't likely to happen, but it could prove a lot more interesting than much of the nonsense coming out nowadays.