Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Shining (1997)

Although I saw this when it was first on television, I've been in the process of re-visiting all Stephen King movies, and this one landed in my mailbox via Netflix. Although many would not agree, I did not like the first version of The Shining with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Unfortunately, I saw it after I read the book, and I was disappointed with the casting, as well as the fact that the movie didn't follow the book at all. As many people know, Stephen King was also not happy with the 1980 version of the movie, therefore, he wrote the teleplay for this version, which was originally aired as a miniseries.

This version of The Shining stars Steven Weber (Jack) and Rebecca DeMornay (Wendy), as well as Courtland Mead as Danny. I feel the casting in this version fit much better since Jack was supposed to start out as a fairly regular person who descends into insanity, whereas Jack Nicholson pretty much looks crazy from the start. Same with Shelly/Rebecca -- Wendy was meant to be the cute and innocent ex-cheerleader type, characteristics that really weren't portrayed by Shelly Duvall.

Anyway, enough with the comparisons. The Shining is a really long movie, because of the fact that it was originally shown over 3 or 4 nights on television. It follows the original Stephen King book to the letter. As most know, the story is that a family (complete with alcoholic ex-professor father/husband who can't get work) move into an old hotel for the winter to perform caretaking duties. The hotel is completely inaccessible and snowed in through most of the winter, and that's where the troubles start.

The hotel is obviously possessed with all kinds of crazy spirits and such, and it doesn't help that the child, Danny, has a sort of sixth sense which allows him to see and interact with all the psycho shit going on. Unfortunately, Jack also gets sucked into the world of ghosts, monsters, and madmen, and becomes convinced to turn on his family. There's no escape, Jack's running around with a croquet mallet, Rebecca DeMornay screaming in a nightgown, bottles of Jack Daniels materialize out of nowhere, etc. etc.

As a huge King fan, I really want to like this movie. But, honestly, it is kind of boring. There's not really too many scares, and the story kind of plods along for a few hours, trekking onwards towards a pretty predictable ending. It's a good movie for true King fans who want to see the movie made "the right way", but it was probably better on TV, and difficult to watch in a 4 or so hour stretch.

Grade: D (Chucky re-emerging alive from a bunch of melted wax -- I mean,