We bet you can't guess what Judge Christopher Kulik made his ice castle out of.
Take your chance. Find your strength. Live your dream.
A little tearjerker named Ice Castles was released on New Year's Eve 1978. While the reviews were rather mixed, the film would endure as a cult romance, now cherished as a three-hankie classic. Sure, the story was short on originality and high on sentimentality, so much it practically screams to be re-titled as The Miracle Skater. Still, fans could care less.
Now, we have a 2010 remake courtesy of Sony, set to premiere during the Winter Olympics.
Facts of the Case
Alexis "Lexie" Winston (figure skater Taylor Firth) lives in Iowa and dreams of being an Olympic skater. When a coach notices her natural talent, he takes her under his wing and presents her at the next Regionals, where she becomes a audience-pleasing sensation. As her success rises, Lexie also becomes intimately close with her coach, much to the dismay of her hometown boyfriend Nick (Rob Mayes, Bones).
When Lexie goes blind after a freak accident, her dreams seem to be crushed beyond repair. To lift her spirit, her supportive father Marcus (Henry Czerny, The Tudors) gets her out on the ice again, while Nick comes back to help her gain the confidence to skate again. Will she be able to compete again, despite her disability?
I'm sure most guys would rather jump into a freezing pond than watch Ice Castles, slamming it as being the ultimate in chick flick sappiness. As for yours truly, I'm not ashamed to say I actually like it a lot. Yes, I'm a guy, and yes, I love to see sh*t blown up every once in awhile. For some reason, however, the original Ice Castles moved me upon initial viewing and it remains a touching love story full of well-developed characters and realistic heartache. Real-life skater Lynn-Holly Johnson (For Your Eyes Only) was utterly convincing both on and off the ice, and even pretty-boy Robby Benson did well with the material. Plus, it was not as family-oriented as one might expect, as it sported a healthy dose of profanity and a nod to sexuality (including implied pedophilia), giving it an appropriately rough edge.
Don't get me wrong, though: Ice Castles was no masterpiece. Still, many of the lines ("We forgot about the flowers!") have become iconic, and it still has the indelible power to make one reach for the tissues. Not to mention Marvin Hamlisch's poignant score and Melissa Manchester's tender love theme "Through The Eyes Of Love," have become staples at weddings.
So, with the original so well-remembered, fans are no doubt wondering if the remake measures up. Uh, not even close. In fact, this is one of the worst remakes I've viewed since Glen Morgan's atrocious version of Black Christmas.
The new Ice Castles has been scaled down so much in terms of story it expunges the romantic spark and tragic undercurrent found in the original. I cringed practically the entire way through, as it shamelessly goes down a juvenile route to utter disaster, going so far as pointlessly re-vamping Manchester's theme and giving Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan an obligatory cameo. I don't know what possessed director Donald Wyre to update his romantic favorite; however, to be fair, he wasn't responsible for the revision of his original script (which he co-wrote with Gary L. Baum, who passed away in 1983). The re-write was done courtesy of Karen Bloch Morse, who served as script coordinator for over a dozen episodes of Dawson's Creek. Got an idea of what this new Ice Castles is like now?
Now, the problems I have with Ice Castles are endless, but I shall only list the primary offenses.
Why dump Beulah?
Why isn't Nick pissed off?
Why is the father so lifeless?
What's up with the music?
Where are Lexie's obstacles?
Taylor Firth is no Lynn-Holly Johnson
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The only recipient of a medal is Sony, delivering a top-notch DVD. Colors are bright, flesh tones are accurate, and no grain is visible anywhere in the 1.85:1 Anamorphic print. If that wasn't enough, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track (in five different languages, including English) is crystal clear, with Nicole's songs swelling up inside your speakers and dialogue perfectly discernible. Sony goes even further by providing subtitles in eight languages, including closed captioning.
Extras are mild, but welcome all the same. The best one is "Landing The Jump," a 13-minute featurette showing behind-the-scenes footage and showcasing interviews with numerous members of the cast and crew. The best moments belong to Wrye, although Johnson actually turns up, acting surprised Ice Castles is being remade. We also have four deleted scenes, totaling almost 7 minutes. Sony also seems determined to set some kind of record for trailers; they provide approximately 19 of them, including the one for the original film! If only they showed the same respect to the original, which is still only available bare-bones.
Rent the original instead. You'll be much better off.
Sony is free to go. However, the film is disqualified from competition for its offensive existence. Guilty all the way!
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