- Directed by Jeff Bleckner
- Produced by Cambria Productions / Haft Entertainment / Hallmark Entertainment
- November 22, 1998
A man is paralyzed from the neck down after an auto accident. After taking up people watching from his rear window, he comes to believe that one of his neighbors has committed murder.
This 1998 version of the classic film, despite having a decent enough cast, is just slow and boring. The pacing just drags. It feels like in the beginning the film is just struggling to get going and when it finally does it just kinda meanders along rather than move at a rapid pace.
It spends a great deal of time setting up Jason’s life while the original just jumped into the story. Most of what is done here could have been handled with a few minor scenes and a handful of lines but instead they spend nearly 40 minutes or so of the movie on it before getting to the actual story.
Christopher Reeve stars as Jason Kemp, a successful architect who one night after meeting with a client is in an auto accident. Jason’s big world shrinks to the occasional trips for therapy and the confines of his apartment. He gets the assistance of Claudia Henderson (Daryl Hannah) in continuing his work and a relationship begins to build. The talented Robert Forster plays Detective Charlie Moore who gets pulled into everything the longer Claudia and Jason watch.
A little over half the film is completely original story or just general backstory with the rest following almost the same beats as the 1954 original. They just did some tweaking to the scenes in those and there the movie really shines. I am not saying they needed to copy the original but the original had far less fluff than this does. The titular rear window in that one was very nearly a character with the one here being almost incidental.
Christopher Reeve does well enough with his part as does Daryl Hannah and Robert Forster. The flaw is most definitely in the script and hot it is handled by the director. They are just going through the motions here and hoping to pull you in with nostalgia and that Reeve is not just playing a quadriplegic but actually is one. This was Reeve’s first screen appearance after his accident.
What was the point of the ex-wife character? She just shows up and is nice to Jason and then is gone from the story. Her statements about meeting somebody or her being kind to Jason impact nothing. And why was the male nurse Antonio (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) made Jamaican? That was a very bad accent.
And what should have been a shocking finale was just a dud. It was just a lot of standing around and talking with questionable actions by the film villain that allowed for the mobility limited Reeve to be put in danger. Maybe a few moments using a body double for what Reeve could not perform should have been added in. Something.
Rather than being an older gentleman that gets sick of his wife and kills her, the villain is now an artist having an affair with the wife’s sister. Not an objectionable change but he has this shitty accent that makes the menace he is trying to convey laughable. The thing is Ritchie Coster who plays Thorpe is an English actor (I had to look that up). Was he making his accent thicker because it sounded really fake here.
The audience is led to believe that Thorpe got his wife’s body unseen out of the apartment in the sculpture he was working on. At the very end when they are all discussing the case in the new building that Jason was designing during the course of the film and saying how they can’t find a body. Jason sees that the sculpture in the lobby of the new building was done by the murderer and the expectation is that the body is in there, but then in another scene they are saying nope not there and that is followed by a camera zoom onto another sculpture that was done by Thorpe that is implied to have the body inside. That just felt like padding to extend out the movie to fit the allotted runtime.
The really unfortunate part is what could have been an interesting twist to the concept never made it that far. This was just wasted. From the script to the pacing to the finale, so much got almost there but never quite clicked.
This version of Rear Window had so much potential that never gets used. It could have been just as special as the film from which it draws its inspiration but instead it just fails to takeoff. The only reason to watch this is to be able to compare the two but really you can just skip it!