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|Index||17 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seeing that Dungeons & Dragons was involved with this case, I was
really curious about how they were going to portray it in the film.
Frankly, I thought they did a very good job of representing its role in
the case. They made it very clear that by the time of the murder, the
boys were no longer playing Dungeons & Dragons -- they had their own
game with their own set of rules. Chris even states at his sentencing
that drugs, alcohol, and D&D were not to blame for his participation in
the scheme; that ultimately he himself was responsible for what he did
(a surprisingly healthy attitude from a suicidal man who has tried to
kill his parents).
The acting in the movie was decent; it's kinda cool to see as-of-then unknowns when they were younger (Adam Baldwin was why I watched the miniseries, Neal McDonough was really good, & I was happy to see David Arquette show up). I think what should be emphasized in this movie is not that it featured D&D (it also depicted drugs & alcohol as factors in the murder), but that it really shows the relationship between the mother & her son, and how the victim of a crime would actually feel. When Bonnie Von Stein feels frustrated at not being able to know what's going on in the case, it was frustrating for me, as the viewer, as well. If that sort of thing interests you, then you should see this movie. If not, then you might be bored.
Don't listen or pay any attention to the negative reviews. I remember watching this mini-series. Blythe Danner is memorable as the mother who comes to terms with her son's horrible crime. Gwyneth Paltrow who is her daughter is memorable playing her daughter. Ed Asner plays one of the lawyers and Kathy Kinney has a small role before she hit it big on the Drew Carey Show as Mimi. I won't say it's my favorite mini-series but I do watch it when it comes on because of Blythe Danner's performance. If you are a fan of her daughter, then you will understand how Blythe Danner has become one of the finest Ameican actresses around whether stage, film or television. She does her job magnificently. I wasn't happy about the ending of the story but it's true so you can't change anything there but if you want to see Gwyneth Paltrow make an impression than you should watch this mini-series. Even as a minor role as Angela, she makes an impression.
I've seen this movie half a dozen times on Lifetime--I can't help it. The acting is really superb. Matt McGrath, whom I don't believe I've seen elsewhere (but whose IMDb listing is substantial) gives a chilling performance of a messed up kid who aspires to be nothing more. Blythe Danner is fantastic as mother and victim Bonnie von Stein. And she elevates any project she's in. Terrific performance. Daughter Gwyneth Paltrow was good, too, I thought, although others may not agree (see earlier post). I also enjoy seeing Dennis Farina--he's awesome and perfectly cast as a tough FBI trained investigator turned PI. Other great performances by Miguel Ferrer and Ed Asner. I think this movie is terrific and I'll watch anything and everything with a body count. I'd have to give it somewhere between 8 or 9 stars out of 10.
Two hours worth of movie in a six-hour package. The screenwriter must
have just typed the book verbatim into script. It takes a real effort
to make such a riveting true story into such a bland and unprovocative
flic. About three quarters of this belonged on the cutting room floor.
Gamers might want to watch it just for the fun of seeing how ineptly the script and prop folks handled Dungeons & Dragons. But other than that, there's not much point.
Another major source of annoyance -- or, in this case, gross-out -- was the way the male lead's nose ran whenever he was distraught. Who wants to watch snot run out this guy's nose?
If you want to learn about the case, read the book.
This is one mini series that follows the book very closely. The problem is that they are both full of stuff and nonsense. In his book "Cruel Doubt" Joe Mcginnis invents a connection between the D&D training scenario "Your First Game" and the murder of Leith Von Stein. The training game was, according to Mcginnis, used a blueprint for murder. He even uses a synopsis of the training game and compares it item by item to the crime. The problem is that it is all made up. The training game has only one point in common with his description of it, the name of a single character. The mini series takes this even further by fabricating photographic evidence. The mini series displays a photograph that is supposed to resemble the murderer in the act and represents it as being a page from the AD&D PLAYERS HANDBOOK. The picture does not exist in that book at all. Mcginnis says in a foreward that he took up the commission to write the book in part to help Bonnie Von Stein get some answers to the troubling events surrounding the attack on her and Leith that left her husband dead and her seriously wounded. Any careful study of the D&D materials and the claims made in this book and movie will demonstrate that the "connection" between D&D and this crime was limited to the simple fact that the conspirators met at college because they had a common interest in the AD&D game and nothing more. Simple greed was the motive for this horrendous crime. Whatever doubts Bonnie Von Stein has cruel or otherwise must remain. This movie could have told a better story if it had told the truth. As pure fiction "Cruel Doubt" has some merit. It can be moderately entertaining if taken with a generous helping of salt.
Having worked in medical facilities, including psychiatric hospitals, I found the dialog exchange between psychiatrist Dr. Royal and defense attorney Osteen, questionable. "Chris Pritchard" had been released from the psychiatric hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, without Attorney Osteen's knowledge. When he hears of this, he angrily confronts Dr. Royal, whom he has retained on Pritchard's behalf, and demands to know why Pritchard was sent home. Dr. Royal states that, "...the hospital did it, and hospital authorities can do anything they want to do!" NEVER in my experience, is a hospital patient discharged WITHOUT the review and signature of that patient's attending-physician. There are instances where a patient can demand to be released, whereupon the doctor is informed. If the doctor determines that the patient is fully aware of the ramifications of being released prior to the conclusion of treatment, and the patient's medical condition is stable, the doctor can sign-off on the patient. "Nursing-notes" are inserted into the patient's chart listing the patient's premature discharge, along with "AMA"..."against medical advice". Perhaps it is a jurisdictional distinction, and the medical facilities of North Carolina are different from those here in New Mexico, but I am not acquainted with a hospital's being able to override the professional opinion of a physician, and discharge a patient, based upon their own interests. The hospital's insurance liabilities for malpractice litigation would be one consideration for never allowing a patient, especially one with Pritchard's mental health issues and suspected violence-prone tendencies, to be released without his psychiatrist's full approval.
This movie is not that bad, not that good. It is the typical murder of
week, made for TV movie.
However, to all reviewers who are making comments about the Dungeons and Dragons aspect of the movie, I say "Read The Book".
The writers of the movie didn't pick this theme out of thin air. It was an important part of the actual crime. No one picked role playing games as a scapegoat.
Except maybe the actual perpetrator...
Like everyone has said, this is yet another attempt to blame something
tragic on something other than the human being that committed it. After
Colombine, the great evil was on black trench coats. This movie blames it
all on D&D. PLEASE! A coat is a coat as much as a game is a game.
I have another issue here. In this movie it was very clearly implied that only quiet alienated creepy loser-type men played these games. Perhaps this is a (subtle) wink at the idea that only men could be influenced by a work of pure fiction, but I have to think it's further proof that the makers of this movie, and the author of the book it's based on, did not bother to research the game itself or the players of it. Did they talk to players of RPGs that have not killed anyone? I think there are MILLIONS of them out there, both men and women, yet they must focus on the one young man that may have had something to do with a murder. I know, I know, before you say it, I know that a story of a perfectly socialized person who also happens to play role playing games would not be a very interesting movie and could not have been nominated for an Oscar, but it would have been closer to the truth than this *thing*.
All I request is that people THINK before they imply something that alienates a large group of harmless, friendly, NON-angsty people. Is that too much to ask?
Is this supposed to be a parody of truth? That's the biggest problem with docudramas, you don't know when you're supposed to laugh/cry or whether the producers are taking major liberties with the facts. Did the writers and producers of this do any real research about the topic at hand? This is a one sided show that does nothing but fuel the current paranoia about roleplaying games. Resist your urge to follow the herd and take what this movie is selling only with a grain of salt, perhaps a large salt lick like the kind I remember my Grandpa provided for his horses.
Regardless of the "quality" of this TV flick, it's "true." This movie's story is based on a real case. The events happened in South Carolina in 1988. The name of the town is Washington, North Carolina. There was a murder and an attempted murder. The victims were a man and his wife. The actual names of the victims are used in the movie. Suspects were captured. There was a trial. A lot of "stuff" happened between the time of the crime and its resolution. I wasn't aware of the 10 line minimum. I was taught to be succinct. If you want, see this made-for-TV movie. Then, if you have the desire, judge it yourself. It will probably air again. This movie might air again in 2005. Perhaps on Lifetime or USA "networks."
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