HER GRIEF-STRICKEN FACE APPEARED on the television screen after the commercial break. Huddled next to her was her husband, his head slowly dropping down to a certain point before being jerked back up by consciousness. They were freezing and had barely eaten anything for the past couple of days. Their car was stuck in a snow bank when it skidded off the road in a remote area; they were on their way to his mother’s house out of state. The snowstorm unexpectedly hit their area much harder than the weatherman had predicted. If they would have known they would not have taken the risk, especially since she was pregnant. I only knew about all these details from the news reporter that was interviewing the couple. The scenes in the snow were actually reenactments with 2 actors portraying the real couple. From everything I was watching and hearing, I honestly was amazed the couple survived that ordeal. They were just an average couple; they did not have any special skills or superpowers, only their wits. Being sensitive to the cold I know I would not have survived one night, yet these two lasted days before they were discovered. AFTER WATCHING THAT TELEVISION SHOW, I was curious why the couple’s story was told via a newscast program instead of being turned into a movie for theatrical release. I have seen so many films based on true stories that have been unbelievable at times. Some were about famous people; but then there have been others who were nobody special, expect for the extraordinary occurrence that they were part of. For example, one of my recent reviews was for a movie about a couple who found themselves in the middle of a major storm while sailing across the ocean. Sure, the two had some sailing knowledge, but nothing could have prepared them for what they encountered. There was another film I just reviewed that was inspired by the true story of a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag for decades. Both films were created to entertain an audience, so I am sure the writers took some liberties with the real story. The ones that get shown on TV are not in a movie format style; they usually have been a series of vignettes narrated by some type of reporter. Both productions have value, I understand it; however, today’s movie was not as clear for me. HAVING WON MULTIPLE LAWSUITS BROUGHT AGAINST him John Gotti Sr., played by John Travolta (Hairspray, Life on the Line), received the moniker “Teflon Don.” Leading one of the largest crime families, the name suited him well. Based on true events this dramatic crime film also starred Kelly Preston (Battlefield Earth, What a Girl Wants) as Victoria Gotti, Stacy Keach (Nebraska, Escape from L.A.) as Neil Dellacroce, Spencer Rocco Lofranco (Unbroken, At Middleton) as John Gotti Jr. and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Mississippi Burning, Constantine) as Angelo Ruggiero. John did a wonderful job of acting in this film; I found his presence on screen remained strong throughout. Kelly was also good; however, the issue I had with this movie was the script or lack of one. Most of the scenes felt like they were just copies of news segments. I was somewhat entertained simply because I was curious about John Gotti, but I did not see anything I had not already known. For listing this picture a biography, I would have preferred getting more history about the characters. Instead, there were family scenes; the only difference being the father was a major crime boss. With the addition of scenes that jumped back and forth in the story, I had a difficult time staying engaged. Maybe this picture would have been better served if it had been released on television.
1 ¾ stars
The reaction I had to this movie may surprise some of you. This happens to be one of my favorite movies and I will explain why. The first time I saw this film I teared up, because I had a secret in common with Carrie. One of my coping mechanisms when I was being bullied in high school was to imagine the perpetrators being placed in a class room, where I had installed special apparatus that would seal the room. From my vantage point I would visualize a couple of water pipes bursting, slowly filling up the room with ice cold water. As the bullies rose closer to the ceiling I could see the panic on their faces and then they died from drowning. I know for some this sounds macabre, but please understand it always stayed as an imaginary fantasy, giving me the strength to return to school the following day. This is one of the reasons I love Carrie and why I am particularly fond of this dramatic thriller. Nominated for an Oscar for her incredible acting, Sissy Spacek (The Help, Coal Miner’s Daughter) played shy high school student Carrie White. With her intensely religious mother Margaret, played by Piper Laurie (Children of a Lesser God, The Faculty), controlling almost all aspects of Carrie’s life, it was hard for Carrie to make any friends. When a prank was put into play to humiliate Carrie in front of the student body, the tormentors had no idea Carrie had a special gift that would be her coping mechanism. Besides Sissy being nominated for an Oscar, Piper was nominated for supporting actress. Director Brian De Palma (Body Double, The Fury) did justice to this movie based on the Stephen King novel. Helping Brian was a solid supporting cast led by Betty Buckley, Nancy Allen, Amy Irving and John Travolta. This by no means was a typical horror film; it was a well crafted tale of high school–for some.
3 1/4 stars — DVD