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This is a remarkably faithful adaptation of Robert B. Parker's novel.
of the changes -- Susan's personal involvement in the case -- simply help
better convey Parker's writing on-screen.
Some changes are to be regretted: A nice sequence of the novel in which Spenser follows a lead and steals something of the Bad Guy's is given to Hawk, and happens off-screen. A character who's just plain dumb in the novel is retarded in the movie, necessitating a change in his fate that seriously damages the structure of the last act.
But nobody's ever done Parker's dialogue justice the way the late Robert Urich did, and, Mr. Parker's claims to the contrary, he was the perfect Spenser, and playing in a script adapted by Parker from his own novel, and filmed in locations that _looked_ like Massachusetts, this is as close as we've come yet to seeing a Robert B. Parker novel on-screen.
Television's Spenser For Hire Robert Urich takes Robert Parker's Boston
based laconic private eye to the more leisurely format of a made for TV
movie in Pake Kings And Princes. I think the films always work better
than the TV series format no matter how good the series is. We even get
Avery Brooks returning as Hawk in this one.
Urich gets hired by Sarah Silverman psychologist whom he has a past with to investigate the death of a TV reporter who was her client. The late client was a good journalist he was of Colombian descent and was investigating the rumors of heavy drug trafficking in a small Massachusetts town where Columbians had settled. But this man was one raging sex addict and the fact he was castrated during the murder does suggest there was a sex angle in this as well.
Urich and Silverman go to Wheaton where they get even less than usual cooperation from law enforcement. The fact that a Columbian drug lord has the biggest house in town seems to indicate what the local industry is.
The solution and yet not what you think. Pale Kings And Princes is a nicely done made for TV film and also Bob Urich's last appearance as Spenser.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched all of (Spenser : For Hire) episodes and it was fun
especially with the light lovely presence of (Robert Urich) as maybe
the first private detective who has a cute face and an intellectual
personality, moreover the special charisma of (Avery Brooks) as (Hawk)
the strangest strongest sidekick ever, and so the affective chemistry
between them both. After the show ended, and the spin off too (A Man
Named Hawk), we have had 4 TV movies starring the same personalities by
the same stars. They should have been great news for the fans. But
generally they weren't !
As in here. Despite the good atmosphere, the complicated plot, some clever lines, a very smooth cinematography, and of course the return of the 2 sweet heroes/actors together again...Actually the movie wasn't that good at all. Maybe not my typical evening movie, but it was close to my forgettable afternoon one !
Although the mystery appeared early as exciting and hard to solve but it was a bit slow as the heat wasn't enough to light a candle ! The whole thing seemed full of consecutive sequences which weren't that convincing if you think a little. For instances : why the Latino psychiatrist misguided (Spenser) ?, and I didn't basically catch on her motive, or her connection with the main players ?, then why did the drug lord wait that long to kill the one who sleeps with his wife (the sheriff), and when he gets to kill him, how he does it of all times in the presence of the annoying (Spenser) in town ?, over and above how can we content with the fact that this fat aged sheriff was having an affair with the hot young wife of the lord who was by the way younger, richer and so similar to (Ricardo Montalban) ?!!
And what about the riddle's solution; really if the drug dealer is the one who originally did it, then why all the empty circumlocution !! As I saw that the scene in which the wife of the late sheriff was trying to make her retarded son whisper the name of the real bad guy was quite naive, needing more unpredictable criminal or a hidden big boss other than the one we already know from the start !
Still the list of my anger's reasons has more : many remarks (3 at least) about how (Spenser) is getting old !?, (Hawk) seemed so funny to a dull extent ?!!, (Susan) nearly did nothing; just being with (Spenser) in car.. in bed !, for God's sake where is the marvelous original theme music of (Spenser : For Hire) it was so catchy and attached to the title character, and this movie missed it powerfully ! The cinematography was cozy but maybe too cozy for what's supposed to be a mysterious thriller with some action too ?!, and finally what was the actual meaning of that title (Pale Kings & Princes) ??! It looked oddly transcendent or sleazy enough with not even one sentence in the dialog to explain what the heck was that ?! And what is the Shakespearean meaning of it ? As I couldn't stand being so "high" in a pastime movie which its level was almost on the contrary !
I desired more important movie for the characters that I love but (Pale Kings & Princes) gave me a pale night to tell you the truth. Though, speaking of truth.. I must admit that this movie is much better than the next couple (Spenser : The Judas Goat) and (Spenser : A Savage Place) ! Anyway, it's clear that I'll stick only to the episodes where (Spenser) whenever was concluding one by a proficient kiss I was feeling how he deserved it, unlike the kiss in the end of this !
I wanted to stop watching this movie after the first 5 minutes but felt
that I had a duty to humanity to view it all so that I could write a
review and perhaps save others from wasting an hour and a half. To
reward me, since you don't know me, please perform some random act of
kindness and dedicate it to old Rationalist. To honor me appropriately
and consistent with my effort here, please make that act negative
rather than positive. For instance, don't praise a shopkeeper for a
lovely display, complain about the lack of a bike rack.
One reason I feel compelled to warn others about this valueless film is that I borrowed it from my local library. The video collection is heavily weighted toward foreign and art-house type films, which I like. The general releases are movies generally considered classics or adaptations of literature with some merit. So, I relied on the judgment of the Pasadena Library acquisition deciders to select this movie. Once again they failed me.
Spenser: Pale Kings is marred by second rate acting to a degree I found distracting. It's not horrible acting, just second rate. Since I was watching the film with consciously critical eyes I discovered something rather special. The acting is remarkably consistently second rate. It's not like the usual situation, in films like other things, where the quality varies. The acting is neither amateurish nor competent, it's just second rate, with a couple exceptions. Alex Carter who plays the state trooper, Lundquist, did capable journeyman level work. Beatriz Pisano who plays Juanita is either a terrible actor or the unfortunate victim of so much psychological damage she is incapable of expressing any sincere human emotion.
The author of the novel upon which this is based may be a good writer, but whoever wrote this script is not. I suspect that the director, and others, share the responsibility for a story that is made up of details that cover the entire range from improbable to implausible. A glaring example is the relationship that Spenser and his girlfriend have with the wife of the police chief. The chief's wife is hostile and antagonistic, as is the chief. After he is killed, she responds to the girlfriend's offer of sympathy and they instantly become friends and confidantes although nothing happened to explain such a remarkable transformation and there were no hints earlier to prepare us. It's jarring that this loyal wife would react this way to the people who are hounding her husband rather than regard them with even greater suspicion. The book must be much better. The viewer would be hard pressed to recognize any human interaction in this movie as one they have seen in real life.
There are some rants in the film about the evil of ethnic stereotyping. That happens in the context of investigating a crime in an old New England mill town with a large number of immigrants from Latin America. The film-makers show how they come out on that issue by portraying all the Hispanic characters as criminals, liars, or whores. Maybe they were trying to cover all bases by appealing to both bigots and decent people.
The one positive comment I was planning to make was that it showed some attractive New England locales, but I was wrong. While researching this review I learned it was shot in Canada. This film has some nice shots of Paris, Ontario in 1993. If you don't want to see that, do something else with 90 minutes of your life.
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