Searchlight Pictures’ ‘Nightmare Alley’ Reboot Is Neither A Dream Nor A Nightmare

Courtesy: Searchlight Pictures

How could a man sink so low? He reached too high. Those are the last two lines of Twentieth Century Fox’s 1947 noir thriller, Nightmare Alley. The lines are a fitting finale for the movie, which is one of many lesser-known noir flicks from the studio, now known as 20th Century Studios. That is because not only do they bring the lesser-known noir flick full circle, but because they also collectively help describe Searchlight Pictures’ new reboot of the classic flick, which is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray. Interestingly enough, Searchlight Pictures is a division of 20th Century Studios. The reboot reaches high but never really succeeds in itself in attempting to bring renewed attention to the original movie. On the positive side, the story at the heart of the movie does help make the movie worth watching at least once. The story’s execution meanwhile offsets the engagement and entertainment generated through the story and must be addressed. The movie’s cinematography rounds out the most important of the reboot’s elements and works with the story to make this presentation at least somewhat more worth watching. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the new Nightmare Alley. All things considered, they make the reboot a presentation that is almost as engaging and entertaining as its source material.

Searchlight Pictures’ reboot of 20th Century Fox’s 1947 noir flick, Nightmare Alley, is an interesting new take of a lesser-known classic from the silver age of cinema. It is a presentation that comes up short in comparison to its source material, but still proves itself worth watching at least once. The value in the reboot is exhibited in large part through the movie’s central story. The story in question centers on Stanton Carlisle, a fake psychic who learns how to trick not only audiences, but women, too. The catch is that while he thinks he is tricking so many people, things don’t turn out quite so well for him in the end. Not to give away too much, but the old adage that what goes around comes around plays out relatively well in this reboot/period piece almost as well as in the original movie. Audiences will be interested to see as the story progresses that the same thing that happened to Pete in the long run happened to Stan. Again, the full story will not be revealed here so as to not spoil things for audiences who have not yet watched the movie. That item in itself makes the movie worth watching at least once.

While the story featured in Nightmare Alley gives audiences at least some reason to give the movie a chance, the execution of the reboot’s story detracts from the story’s overall engagement and entertainment. The original story runs just under two hours at one hour, 51 minutes. The reboot runs two and a half hours. The increased length comes from the fact that some scenes from the original have been moved around while at other points, the writing staff of writer/director Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan, and William Lindsay Gresham added things that were not in the original movie. What’s more, certain amounts of explicit content were added to the movie that were not in the original movie and not needed, either. One of the changes that the writers made in the reboot was to limit the use of the tarot card scenes. The original story incorporated their use at least twice early in the story and midway through. In the case of the reboot, it is used only once in the story’s final act. What’s more, the scene in the reboot in which Stanton (played by Bradley Cooper) backs over Anderson (Holt McCallany) and then runs him over was an added and completely unnecessary moment. The same can be said of the moment early on when the geek (which is apparently another word for a circus sideshow freak) bites the head off of a chicken. That is a scene from the original movie, but there really is no need for the explicit nature of the scene in the reboot, what with all of the blood. It’s like the movie’s creative heads did that just for shock value, which is concerning. In yet another case, the scene in which Pete dies is changed and extended from the original movie. In the case of the reboot, what was originally a private moment becomes a longer public scene in the carnival, and the more extended sequence in which Stanton teaches Molly (Rooney Mara) about the electrocution chair and how it works adds to the movie’s run time. The original movie did involve this element, but did not add all of the unnecessary extra content used in the reboot. There is also added content late in the movie in which Stanton talks with Judge Kimball (Peter MacNeill) about his sordid past. The extra content here is way more than was in the original scenes from the 1947 take of the movie. Simply put, between this item, the others addressed here, and so many others incorporated into the reboot, there is a lot changed from the original to the reboot that did not need to be changed in so many ways. Yes, the reboot’s content largely does strive to stay true to the original, but there are just so many changes that it makes the movie not necessarily the original and in turn not as engaging as the original movie.

While the amount of changes that occur between Nightmare Alley‘s original movie and its new reboot are concerning, they are not enough to completely ruin the reboot’s presentation. The cinematography works with the story to make for at least a little bit more engagement. The cinematography uses so many specific angles that help enhance the tension of certain scenes. At others, the close ups and the cuts help to keep the sense of steady pacing moving even with the movie’s extensive run time in mind. That plays into the general look of the movie (which is too spit shined even as it takes audiences back to the 1930s and 40s) to help immerse audiences that much more into the movie. Considering that along with the appeal in the movie’s story, the two elements together make Nightmare Alley neither a dream nor a nightmare in itself.

Searchlight Pictures’ new reboot of 20th Century Fox’s classic 1947 noir thriller Nightmare Alley is an interesting presentation. It proves worth watching at least once because of its story. Unlike so many reboots past and present, this movie actually sticks to the story of the original movie. That in itself will appeal to audiences and hopefully encourage audiences to take in the story in the original movie. While the story does form a stable foundation for the reboot of Nightmare Alley, its execution detracts from the overall appeal. That is because of how much content was added, removed, and moved around. There is plenty of content in the story that was either not needed (especially explicit content) or needed in other places throughout the story. It is concerning, but not enough to completely doom the movie. The cinematography works with the story to make for even more engagement. That is because it helps enhance the mood of given scenes, and in turn help viewers look past the reboot’s two hour, 30 minute run time and feel like the movie moves at a relatively stable pace. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Nightmare Alley‘s presentation. All things considered, they make the reboot neither a dream nor a nightmare.

Nightmare Alley is scheduled for release Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD. More information on this and other titles from Searchlight Pictures is available at:




To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Danny Phantom Complete Series Set Is Loads Of Ghostly Fun For All

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Nickelodeon’s programming today is comprised largely of live action sitcoms aimed at teen viewers.  However, from the early 1990s up until the mid-2000s, the network was known more for its vast array of cartoons.  It’s “Nicktoons” were its heart and soul.  While Nickelodeon does have some cartoons today, the network’s sole remaining real Nicktoon is Butch Hartman’s hugely successful series Fairly OddparentsFairly Oddparents is a standout series, too.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t his first series to have the honor of being added to Nickelodeon’s list of beloved Nicktoons.  His first notable “Nicktoon” was the short-lived supernatural series Danny Phantom.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans of Danny Phantom will be able to own the complete series in one box later this month.  Danny Phantom only ran for three seasons.  In its defense, it could be argued that this was because it was ahead of its time.  That aside, series creator Butch Hartman and his writers crafted a number of enjoyable episodes throughout the show’s short run.  Just as worth noting about this new upcoming box set is that is alleviates some minor problems raised in the box sets containing the series’ second season.  Lastly, those that know their Nicktoons history will appreciate the voice talent that made up the series’ cast.  That who’s who of voice actors combined with the enjoyable stories, and the fact that they are all available together for the first time collectively make this upcoming set well worth picking up for any Danny Phantom fan.

Fans of Danny Phantom: The Complete Series  will appreciate this new complete series set first and foremost because it presents the series’ entire three-season run in one complete box set.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released three complete series sets from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Angry Beavers.  Those sets proved to actually take up far less space on DVD racks than the stand-alone season sets that had originally been released.  This set is no different.  All nine discs that make up all three seasons are included in this box.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have sweetened the deal even more for fans in that they have maintained the established wise packaging that was used in the aforementioned complete series sets.  The discs are placed inside the box on either side of their own “insert” with the ninth and final disc being placed in its own spot inside the back of the case.  As with the previously noted box sets, this protects the discs and allows the episodes contained within each one to be enjoyed much longer.  It is the starting point of what audiences will appreciate about Danny Phantom: The Complete Series.

The packaging for Danny Phantom: The Complete Series is a good starting point in discussing everything that makes this box set well worth its price.  The episodes contained across the set’s nine total discs make the presentation as a whole even more enjoyable.  It would be easy to say that because its main characters were high school students, Danny Phantom was just another program aimed at audiences of the same age. To a point, it could be seen how teen audiences would take an interest in the series.  Case in point, one of the series’ story arcs involved a potential inter-racial romance between Danny and black classmate named Valerie Gray (voiced by Cree Summer—The Cosby Show, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, etc.).  It really is a sign of the times that the show’s writers would include this without making a big fuss over it, either.  It is a subtle, but nice addition to the series.  There are also the constant struggles to balance trying to be a regular teen with being a superhero. But the jokes that are tossed in each episode aren’t above some younger viewers, either.  So while teens might have been the primary audience, younger viewers would have obviously enjoyed the show, too.  The same applies to today’s teens and pre-teens, too.

The packaging and writing that make up Danny Phantom’s episodes are collectively a big part of what makes the series so enjoyable even for today’s younger audiences.  There is at least one more aspect of the series’ new set that audiences will appreciate in examining the presentation as a whole.  That aspect is the series’ voice cast.  The series’ primary cast reads like a who’s who of voice acting.  It has already been noted that veteran voice actress Cree Summer is part of the primary cast (even though she doesn’t come into play until the second season).  Along with Ms. Summer, Grey DeLisle (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Clifford: The Puppy Years, Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, etc.) Kath Soucie (Futurama, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Beauty and the Beast, etc.), Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, etc.) and a whole slate of others each play roles in the series.  Fans will also recognize the voices of Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim, Hellboy & Hellboy II), Martin Mull (Roseanne), and the man who is perhaps the busiest male voice actor in the business, one Frank Welker (Curious George, The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo Where Are You, etc.)  Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Taylor Lautner (the Twilight saga), and the late David Carradine even make appearances throughout the series among so many other big names.  If the massive list of A-listers that play roles in Danny Phantom isn’t reason enough to check out the new Danny Phantom: The Complete Series box set, then one need only set that alongside the enjoyable writing and the equally wise packaging to see just how worthwhile this set is for kids and kids at heart.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, January 28th.  It can be pre-ordered online now from the Shout! Factory store at  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at