The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

DVD Reviews | Mar 4th, 2005

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Starring Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Wright, Kimberly Elise, Jon Voight, Ted Levine
Written By: Daniel Pyne, Dean Georgaris
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Studio: Paramount
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Manchurian Candidate popped up right before the election and I can see why. The movie is a dark, mind-bending political thriller that definitely raises the question “?” Maybe what happened in this movie is what happened with this year’s election hehe. Hey! It could happen!

The Manchurian Candidate is a remake of the 1960’s film that was directed by John Frankenheimer. It starred Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury. Jonathan Demme directs this remake and the film stars Denzel Washington as Ben Marco, the paranoid Military man who has frequent nightmares about his past. The nightmares started to occur when a recon mission in the Gulf War went extremely bad. The soliders that actually survived it, all remember the same thing. That Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) saved the day and rescued everyone from being killed. Shaw received the medal of honor for his heroics and started to get involved with politics. It also helped that his parents were in politics as well. Marco starts to think that something else really happened and he starts to investigate. Shaw is now running for Vice President, and his mommy (Meryl Streep) is by his side all the time telling him what to do and bossing other people around. Marco tries to talk with Shaw and get his side of the story but it seems Shaw is avoiding Marco. Ben Marco starts to think that himself, Shaw and others are being brainwashed and he tries to find out how & why.

As far as the movie goes, I think it was a little confusing at times but definitely had an interesting storyline. The film was certainly dark, and had it’s creepy moments. I like how some things seemed to be realistic in the movie and I really think this kind of stuff does happen, though to some extent. I think there is plenty of cover-ups in politics and not everything is what it seems. Question everything is a good way of thinking and that’s what Ben Marco does. Some of the scenes you see in the nightmares are frighteningly disturbing. Knowing our own Government would do that to plant someone in the White House years later just seems beyond evil.

I Never saw the original film so I can’t really compare the two. From what I read at other websites & reviews, the original is a lot better. My feelings is that the movie has some great acting & it’s a terrific ensemble cast, but the story tends to drag a little. I like a lot of Denzel Washington movies and think he’s a great actor. His acting abilities and style make him a good fit for the role of Ben Marco. It’s sort of a different character that he usual plays. I also think Liev Schreiber is a cool actor and played the part perfectly. He seems to do well in the political films so I can see why he chooses to do them a lot. Meryl Streep did her job well and I hated her, immensely! She really knows how to play those evil witches dead on. I think Jonathnan Demme did a satsifying job with the movie and made certain scenes very realistic, like the drowning scene. That was intense and eerie at the same time. The movie has it’s fair share of twists but I couldn’t figure out what the ending was going to be. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t.

If you like extras on a DVD, this DVD has plenty of them. Besides audio commentary with Jonathan Demme and Daniel Pyne, there is a few featurettes, some deleted scenes, 2 outtakes and a few other things. The deleted scenes were okay but I can see why they left them on the cutting room floor. Though, I did like the scene with Marco and Shaw talking in the army truck before getting ambushed. It shows more character depth with Shaw’s character. The outtakes were both involving Meryl Streep and then one with Al Franken. The Al Franken one was pretty funny. The feaurettes were good and the cast and crew were interviewed. At one point, Meryl Streep said she didn’t think her character was a bad guy and that’s kind of frightening to hear. There’s a few other things on the disc that will appeal to fans of the movie.

Manchurian Candidate isn’t a great film but it’s entertaining and makes you think. But at the same time, I felt a little bit disappointed in the film. It seemed to be chaotic in parts and makes the viewer confused. I don’t know, Maybe i’m just stupid. If you saw the original film and/or like political thrillers, you might like this movie.

Commentary By Director Jonathan Demme and Screenplay Writer Daniel Pyne
The Enemy Within: Inside The Manchurian Candidate
The Cast of The Manchurian Candidate
5 Deleted/Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary
Marco and Raymond talk on patrol
Marco’s worried neighbor
Raymond meets executives while Senator Jordan confronts Ellie at fundraiser
Campaign Trail Montage Marco and Raymond interrupted at campaign HQ
Outtakes with Optional Commentary
Ellie’s interview with Stacey Newsome-Santaigo
Ellie’s interview with Al Franken
Liev Schreiber Screen Test
Political Pundits with Optional Director Commentary

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)


Favorite Scenes: The last half hour was interesting. I liked when Marco was in Shaw’s office and bit him.
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 129 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: