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Apt Pupil

Kevin Pollak , Ian McKellen , Bryan Singer    DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.94
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Customers buy this Movies & TV with Stand by Me (Special Edition) (Bilingual) CDN$ 6.98

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Product Description


At the top of his game, Stephen King has a real gift for mining monsters--zero-at-the-bone horror--out of everyday faces and places. Adapted from a novella in the 1982 collection that also spawned Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil looks at first as if it might draw authentically enlightening terror from the soul-cancer that makes blood relations of a Southern California golden boy (Brad Renfro) and an aging Nazi war criminal (Sir Ian McKellen). Turned on by a high-school course about the Holocaust, Todd Bowden (such a bland handle for this top-of-his-class sociopath!) tracks down Kurt Dussander, a former Gestapo killer hiding in the shadows of sunny SoCal. Blackmailing the old man into sharing his firsthand stories of genocide, the teenager trips out on the virtual reality of the monster's memories. There's perverse play here on the way a kid hungry for knowledge can bring a long-retired teacher or grandparent back to life. Truly superb as James Whale in Gods and Monsters, McKellen brings subtlety to this Stephen King creepshow: his dessicated Dussander is like a mummy or vampire revivified by Todd's appetite for atrocity.

Considerable talent intersects in Apt Pupil: It's director Bryan Singer's first film since The Usual Suspects, that enormously popular, rather heartless thriller-machine. The outstanding cast also includes David Schwimmer as a Jewish guidance counselor pathetically impotent in the face of Todd's talent for evil, and Bruce Davison as Todd's All-American Dad, lacking the capacity to even imagine evil. And the story itself has the potential for gazing into the heart of darkness right here in Hometown, U.S.A. But Apt Pupil just turns ugly and unclean when it trivializes its subject, equating Holocaust horrors with slamming a cat into an oven or offing a nosy vagrant (Elias Koteas). Reducing the great spiritual abyss that lies at the center of the 20th century to cheap slasher-movie thrills and chills is reprehensible. Both Todd and the writers of Apt Pupil should have heeded the old saw: When supping with the devil, best use a long spoon. --Kathleen Murphy

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie March 17 2013
By Nath
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie is one of the best I have ever seen it is so believable you cannot guess for one second right up to the end what is going to happen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intense movie April 28 2010
Dear Seller

Thank you for delivering this DVD. The story, which I had read in "Different Seasons" by Stephen King, is very intense. This is a reminder of the holocaust which is the saddest period of our times. If I enjoyed this movie, it is just because of the great acting in it reminding us that Brad Renfro was indeed a good actor and that his passing happened way to soon. Thanks again!


Diane St-Denis
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By R
This movie was not a horror movie like the preview might stimulate it as being but it is more of a dark drama, until the middle when it starts going into the thriller genre. This movie was as good as it was because of one person, Ian Mckellen. He made the movie and put on a chilling performance as the Neighbor Nazi. The movie's ending I didnt expect it, but it did not have the huge twist like Usual Suspects, Singer's other movie, but I still thought it was neat. Overall for six dollars i felt that this movie was sure worth the price and i would have payed ten to see it.
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Director Bryan Singer seems fascinated by the dense blackness that comprises the unpleasant side of the human psyche, and he has built a reputation on creating films that explore those darker facets of mankind. Fans will not be disappointed, then, by APT PUPIL (1998). It is a riveting but disturbing fictional thriller that deals with the real-life subjects of evil and the Holocaust, the latter being a topic that is often regarded as too sensitive and controversial for all but non-fictional works. With APT PUPIL--which is based on a Stephen King novella--Singer actually uses the Holocaust as a backdrop for his exploration of the ease with which evil can take root in even the most prosaic of locations in the everyday world. And to a lesser degree, the film is also Singer's comment on the strong influence that an authority figure can have on shaping the worldview of a naïve and eager disciple.
In the film, an American high-school honor student (Brad Renfro) who is fascinated by the history of WWII--specifically the Holocaust--discovers that an elderly German émigré (Ian McKellen) living in the neighborhood is actually a hunted Nazi war criminal incognito, and the clever boy is able to gather enough evidence of this fact that he could easily expose the old man's true identity. But instead of turning his data over to the authorities, the boy uses it to muscle the elderly gent into sharing the details of the atrocities he committed during the war--details that "they're afraid to tell us about in school."
Of course, the old Nazi is outraged, but he also knows he's been trapped. So he ultimately resigns himself to the situation, and detailed stories of heinous actions he does tell.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Implausable. April 10 2004
Format:VHS Tape
'Apt Pupil' was half decent until the ending, where the resolution of the story was ridiculously implausable. Yes, the Germans did very terrible things during WWII, but how long will the media continue to hammer the Germans over and over again? Haven't we had enough of the German Holocaust Thing? How many more movies can they possibly make about the subject matter??
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4.0 out of 5 stars DILATED PUPIL April 9 2004
Buoyed by the marvelous performances of Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro, APT PUPIL, Stephen King's expose on the horrors of the Holocaust, manages to entertain and provoke thoughts of this horrible blight on mankind.
However, at the heart, I couldn't understand Renfro's obsession with the Holocaust, nor really understand where his cold heart came from. His cruelty in humiliating McKellen during the infamous uniform/march scene, is totally despicable in showing Renfro's callousness. Everything points to the fact that despite McKellen's evil, Renfro's is even worse in that he chooses it for pleasure, rather than the distorted duty of a Nazi soldier.
The movie seems a little long at times, but director Bryan Singer keeps things interesting and his evocation of the above mentioned performances, is to his obvious credit.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A poor adaption of a great story March 27 2004
As usual, it seems like the director never reads the book. We all rented this and were disappointed up to the end. Where was the famous scene where the boy shoots at passing cars on the highway? The metal band Anthrax knows more about this story than these movie makers. Check out their song 'Skeletons in the Closet'. That was a great adaption. This movie sucked.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest stories ever March 25 2004
By A Customer
This is one of Stephan King's best stories that was turned in an ok movie. The story was more graphic and the ending was much better, but this is an excellent movie all the same. I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in history to see how they can take things that happen all that time ago, and bring them back into today's society. Great movie and even better written story
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