The Chamber Preview

Alright, so we move forward to our Horror/Thriller section. This has always been a troublesome category for thrillers. What makes a thriller a thriller and not an action film? Or when does a thriller become not thrilling enough and float off as the dreaded drama? Hard to tell. For the most part we’ve erred on the side of Horror. The Aaaiiiirrrrbbbbaaalllll! cycle made it easy to pick Thriller, though. Hard to believe, but there are no ex-athletes that have appeared in a major horror film. So instead, we are watching the Grisham adaptation called The Chamber that costars Bo Jackson (yes, that Bo Jackson). I not only get to enjoy a thrilling tale of law and justice, but I get to read the book too. Let’s go!

The Chamber (1996) – BMeTric: 19.6


(I know! What a strange early plot. Indeed. What appears to have happened is that the movie was at 5.7 on March 8th 2005, then it suddenly dropped to 5.3 with a huge influx of votes on May 9 2005, which is then just as suddenly corrected by April 12, 2006 including a massive purge of votes! Incredible. Why does some entity hate The Chamber so much? It was probably John Grisham just creating new accounts over and over to downvote it)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Young lawyer feels impelled to defend a Mississippi death row inmate, convicted of a racist/terrorist bombing years ago, because the man is his grandfather. Reopening this volatile case causes pain and hardship for all involved. Curiously unmoving (and talky) adaptation of the John Grisham best-seller. O’Donnell is earnest but unconvincing; Hackman never successfully disappears into the role of a racist pig.

(Well guess what Leonard? I think this review is curiously unmoving and talky. So there. The talky bit doesn’t bode well. Think could be a snoozefest. Get my sleep on. Also, a little preview on the BMTsolution: the book is pretty talky as well. Although, it was moving. So maybe that’s what the movie missed.)

Trailer –

(I was pretty out on the trailer until the very end. Lawyers filing briefs and finding themselves in danger. Classic Grisham. But when Chris O’Donnell is running and crying and running? I’m in.)

Director(s) – James Foley – (Known For: Glengarry Glen Ross; The Corruptor; At Close Range; Two Bits; BMT: Perfect Stranger; Fear; The Chamber; Who’s That Girl?; Notes: Nominated for Worst Director, Who’s That Girl (1987). Was offered to direct Purple Rain. Was Sean Penn’s best man when he married Madonna. Yes, yes, and yes.)

Writer(s) – William Goldman (screenplay) – (Known For: The Princess Bride; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Misery; Maverick; All the President’s Men; The Ghost and the Darkness; Marathon Man; Chaplin; A Bridge Too Far; Absolute Power; Hearts in Atlantis; The Stepford Wives; BMT: Dreamcatcher (BMT); The General’s Daughter; Wild Card; Memoirs of an Invisible Man; The Chamber; Year of the Comet; Notes: Famously advised Damon and Affleck on Good Will Hunting (he denied credit, although rumors claim his contributions included telling them to scrap the entirety of the back half of the film involving Will working for the FBI). Also, Redford famously disliked his script for All the President’s Men and tried to replace it with a version written by Bernstein (he mostly failed). Won Oscars for that and Butch Cassidy. Wrote both the book and screenplay for The Princess Bride.)

Chris Reese (screenplay) – (BMT: The Chamber; Ghost Dad; Notes: Nothing on him anywhere. Perhaps the author of Ghost Dad is a ghost himself. That’s where he got the inspiration for the film. What a twist!)

Actors – Gene Hackman – (Known For: The Royal Tenenbaums; Unforgiven; Enemy of the State; The French Connection; The Conversation; Mississippi Burning; Superman; Crimson Tide; Runaway Jury; Superman II; The Quick and the Dead; Hoosiers; The Poseidon Adventure; Get Shorty; The Firm; Heist; The Replacements; The Mexican; The Birdcage; Bonnie and Clyde; Absolute Power; Young Frankenstein; No Way Out; Wyatt Earp; BMT: Behind Enemy Lines; Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; The Chamber; Welcome to Mooseport (BMT); Loose Cannons; All Night Long; Full Moon in Blue Water; Two of a Kind; Notes: Somewhat notably retired after Welcome to Mooseport. Writes Western novels (to some acclaim). Val Kilmer claimed he was going to be in Top Gun 2, but that turned out to be Val Kilmer being Val Kilmer)

Budget/Gross: $50 million / $14,551,359 ($22,540,359 Worldwide)

(Just an estimated budget, but it is a notable bomb. Barely hanging on to its place in the top 200 worst openings for a 2000+ theater release. Currently in 193rd place. Just behind it: Stephen King’s Thinner and Maximum Risk starring JCVD. All three of those films were released within weeks of each other in 1996.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 12% (3/25), No consensus yet.

(No consensus because it’s too old. So I’ll just make one up: Dumb movie for dumb people. If you like this then you’re dumb.)

Poster – Two Giant Faces


(Classic, classic, classic movie poster. I like it a lot. The colors, the actors, the words. All of them work for me.)

Tagline(s) – Time is running out. (D)

(Huh… this almost seems like a tagline for a different movie. There is no pun here. This is simply a statement. I think I hate it. When combined with the title it makes some sense. The Chamber, time is running out. Gas chamber, execution, struggle against time. It is just an explanation of the plot though and doesn’t get me excited.)

Notes – The character of Rollie Wedge was beefed up considerably from the novel with the aim that Jack Nicholson would play him. Things didn’t quite go according to plan and the part went to the lesser known actor, Raymond J. Barry, instead. (This is a horrible plan)

During the execution scene at the end of the film, one of the members of the crowd cheering and holding scenes at the prison holds up a cardboard sign reading, “suck gas, evildoer”. This is the trademark battle cry of Darkwing Duck, from the Disney TV series about a duck superhero who uses a gas weapon against criminals. (What? Why is this happening? How does this happen?).

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