15 January 2015

Stephen King's THE SHINING (1997)

STEPHEN KING'S THE SHINING

Alternate Titles:
The Shining / Stephen King's Shining

USA, 1997
Director: Mick Garris

7/10








Although there are many really bad Stephen King adaptations out there (like "The Mangler" or "Graveyard Shift"), none of them made the Maestro so fucking mad, like the one that's universally considered as one of the best: Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining", a mindblowing epic masterpiece that basically everyone loves - aside from King himself who stated it's the only adaptation of his novels that he could "remember hating",
calling it "a film by a man who thinks too much and feels too little" and "it's a great big beautiful Cadillac with no motor inside, you can sit in it and you can enjoy the smell of the leather upholstery - the only thing you can't do is drive it anywhere."

About 17 years later, King decided to finally get things right. He teamed up with TV network ABC and director Mick Garris (who previously adapted King's dystopian "The Stand" into a 4-episode-miniseries), and together they created a 3-episode-miniseries (written and produced by King himself), that is basically a one-to-one adaptation of King's 1977 novel.


It would be ridiculous to compare the 1997 adaptation with the 1980 adaptation, because they're two radically different movies. Stanley Kubrick's theatrical "The Shining" was made for aficionados of the director's work, for horror buffs and for fans of Jack Nicholson, while Mick Garris & Stephen King's made-for-TV vanity project "The Shining" was made for fans of King, for fans of the novel and for people who don't like / don't care about Kubrick's work.

As you may know, I'm a die-hard fan of Kubrick's version, but... yes, I also like this version, because it's definitely one of the most faithful King-adaptations and very true to the book, and it also gets perfectly in line with other great 90s Stephen-King-TV-miniseries like "It", "The Langoliers" or the above-mentioned "The Stand".


Watching all three 90-minute-episodes in a row can be quite exhausting, though thanks to Garris' solid direction and King's splendid screenplay, I never got bored. It's all very well paced and executed, no scene seems to be long. It all just works. The 'new' Overlook Hotel (actually the Stanley Hotel in Colorado which inspired King to write the novel in the first place) isn't as eerie and eyegasmic as it should have been, but it still looks good enough. Pretty much the same could be said about the movie's music (Nicholas Pike, "Critters 2") and cinematography (Shelly Johnson, "Jurassic Park III"): both could have been a tad more intense,
more powerful.

The cast is great, especially the ever-so-gorgeous and still-so-underrated Rebecca De Mornay who gives a very believable Wendy Torrance, Steven Weber as father who slowly becomes more and more batshit insane (love seeing him blood-smeared and grinning like crazy) and Melvin van Peebles as cool-looking cook. Also, lots of great cameos, like Stephen King as band conductor, Sam Raimi as garage attendant, or Mick Garris himself as attendee at an AA meeting.


Next to some really shitty-looking CGI, too many objects that were moved by ghosts, and some plot twists and turns that bugged me, the absolute worst thing about this mini-series is Courtland Meat. I'm not saying that he isn't capable of acting, but it's hard to focus on his acting performance because of how ridiculous he looks. I now that it's not fair to call him the ugliest and most annoying child actor I've ever seen, but... damn, he IS the ugliest and most annoying child actor Ive 'ever seen. His semi-deformed lips give him a rather retarded look, and it obviously doesn't help that he is unable to ever close his mouth. In addition, I'm quoting some hilarious but fitting descriptions from these Imdb threads:


"For some reason this kid drives me nuts (...) When I see him, I think of a duck. He irritates me."
"The kid has a face which I would love to pound for hours. Heck, after 4 hours I was rooting for Jack to bash his face in."
"He does (...) look like a cabbage patch doll, and his lips look like you could stick him on the window in the back of car!"
"I don't think he was born that way at all. It looks like he has thumb-sucker's mouth and a denture put in to replace his mishapen upper teeth. That would explain why his upper teeth look so perfectly uniform yet his upper lip is pushed up so high. Someone didn't stop the thumb sucking before
it could ruin his mouth. Sad." 

All in all, a successful adaptation of the novel, but obviously no match
for Kubrick's version.

12 comments:

  1. Rebecca DeMornay starring in this is one of the reasons I paid money to see her in the remake of Apartment 1303... which is one of the absolute worst movies I've watched in my life, and which I'm positive she feels embarrassed about (she clearly wasn't even trying).

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    1. I heard about that. Sad. Seems like she doesn't give a fuck anymore.

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  2. I'm one of the few who isn't a big fan of this book of King's, nor the movie. But I'm glad to know this remake is worth watching. (I recently saw the Carrie remake and hated it.) Thanks for the review!

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  3. The Stanley Kubrick version is one of my favourite films, but I've honestly never heard of this series, perhaps it bypassed Wales altogether. I'll definitely give it a whirl, if I can find it.

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    1. Really? Thought it's on TV all the time... even in (on?) Wales ;)

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  4. I really enjoyed this mini-series, but the kid was annoying beyond belief. I cringed every moment he was on screen.

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    1. Haha, can't argue with that. That kid is the definition of annoyment :-D

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  5. I haven't seen this one. Your review makes me want to...but that kid! Yipe!

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    1. Haha, that kid is just terrible :D But everything else is pretty solid.

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  6. That Stephen King quote about the Cadillac is brilliant!

    I think once I am finished reading The Shining it might be a good project to watch both versions. I hadn't realised that there was a second version until now

    K :-)

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    1. Haha yeah, brilliant indeed. Still, I prefer Kubrick's version.

      I think you might enjoy it. It's not perfect, but at least it's a damn well adaptation of a good-but-not-that-good book.

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