Posts Tagged ‘stephen king’

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It: Chapter Two (2019)

September 6, 2019

It: Chapter Two (2019)

Director: Andy Muschietti (It, Mama)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Bill Skarsgard

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It? Honestly, the only thing that kept my anticipation level below epic levels was the initial reactions of the critics. A 71% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t what I was hoping for. Still, I absolutely adored the first movie and while It (2017) may not be the horror classic I initially made it out to be, it at least deserves to be mentioned with the best genre flicks of the last several years.

The audiences seem to be loving Chapter Two and Twitter is going pretty crazy over this movie – especially over Bill Hader’s performance – but I’m going to make a prediction right now: in 2-3 years, everyone is going to realize this movie wasn’t very good. Think about Avengers: Age of Ultron. Most people liked it when it first came out. I even gave it a favorable review. Nowadays, it’s rare to find anyone that liked it and most agree it’s one of the weakest installments in the MCU. I have a feeling It: Chapter Two is going to follow a similar path. Everyone is overreacting now, maybe because they are in denial, and in a few years, this movie will be universally regarded as a dud.

Because… it’s a serious slog. I can’t imagine someone being genuinely entertained by this for three straight hours. It’s soooooo long and the running time seems to be born more out of ego than out of necessity – like director Andy Muschietti and the studio think they can get away with making this some horror epic because the first movie was so successful. I mean… they are probably right. Chapter Two will probably do big business, but I think the length and drop in quality will hurt its legs over the long run and I’d be surprised if it outgrosses the first movie.

I think the biggest problem with this movie is the source material. When I revisited the novel in 2017, I was surprised at how weak the story gets when I got to the adult portion of the book as I’ve always regarded It as one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It’s just not good. I actually think the filmmakers did a laudable job of adapting King’s work in Chapter Two and I like some of the changes they made – it’s funnier and the characters are way less annoying than in the novel. For instance, I couldn’t stand the adult Richie Tozier but Bill Hader makes him the highlight of the film in Chapter Two. Actually, the casting of the adult characters is pretty solid overall. Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy seemed like perfect casting, but honestly, no one is going to remember the adult versions of Beverly or Bill in this movie. Hader and James Ransone (as adult Eddie) are great though. If it weren’t for them, this movie would be completely forgettable. They arguably save the whole thing and make it worth watching.

The biggest problem with Chapter Two is that the kids made the book and the kids made the movie in the 2017 film. The adult story just isn’t nearly as good. Muschietti seems to understand that and I think that’s why we get a three hour movie here: the kids get a lot of screen time and it doesn’t really help the movie… it just makes it unnecessarily longer. With that said, any time young Eddie or young Richie are on screen it is usually a good thing. Those two characters and actors are the heart and soul of these movies.

When it comes down it, I just didn’t enjoy this movie. I guess it was okay. Maybe it will even grow on me over time because I’m so dissatisfied right now. I think it would have been a tough watch as a two hour movie and it’s an hour longer than that! I was pretty forgiving of some of the questionable CGI in the first film – mostly because the actual movie was so good – but it’s harder to ignore here. I just don’t have a lot of good things to say about Chapter Two other than praising the performances of Bill Hader and James Ransone.

Obviously, everyone is still going to go see this… especially if they loved the first one like I did. So I won’t tell you not to watch it, but don’t be surprised if you walk out feeling disappointed.

Replay Value: I’m a horror buff, so I’ll still be adding this to my movie collection… and I’ll watch it again… I’ve seen a lot of bad horror movies multiple times… but none that are three hours long!

Sequel Potential: If this movie crushed, I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood to write a sequel that doesn’t exist as a novel.

Oscar Potential: BILL HADER FOR BEST ACTOR! Yeah right. He has NO chance. I thought he was great in this, but that is crazy talk.

5/10 (Decent)

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Movie Reviews: Pet Sematary (2019), Leave No Trace (2018), Tag (2018)

April 25, 2019

Pet Sematary (2019)
Director: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer (Holidays, Starry Eyes)
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence

Anticipation Level: Medium

How Was It? I hated it. It’s the first movie I’ve seen in 2019 that I thought about walking out of. Not that I would… but I did think about it. I can’t really compare it to Stephen King’s book (because I never read it) or the original film (because I don’t remember it), but on its own, I thought this movie was brutal… and not in the good kind of way that horror movies can be brutal. It just sucks. Jason Clarke is an actor I’ve identified as someone I’ve never liked in a single role (to be fair though, I’ve never seen Zero Dark Thirty or Mudbound, two critically acclaimed films he’s had roles in). Pet Sematary has a backstory involving the mom and her deformed sister that kept popping up and it is plenty disturbing, but in the “wait, why are we watching this” kind of way. I’ve heard these flashbacks play a critical role in King’s book, but I didn’t understand their relevance in the film. She’s scared of mangled human monsters? I mean… who isn’t? I know this was a remake so a lot of us know what is going to happen, but could they be any less subtle about the huge trucks whizzing past the driveway? And having been startled by semis speeding past multiple times already, what kind of shitty parents are letting their kids play anywhere near that road unsupervised? Come on. Massive kudos to the film editing crew for putting together a trailer that made this shit show look watchable.

Replay Value: None.

Sequel Potential: The original got a sequel even though there is only one book and this movie has already grossed double its budget in the U.S. alone, so there’s definitely potential.

Oscar Potential: None.

3/10 (Bad)

Gauva Island (2019)
Director: Hiro Murai (Atlanta, Barry)
Starring: Donald Glover, Rhianna, Letitia Wright, Nonso Anozie

Anticipation Level: Medium

How Was It? Uh, I guess it’s a cool showcase for previously released Childish Gambino music? Donald Glover works “This Is America” and both songs from last year’s Summer Pack set of singles into the script and it all fits just fine, but if you tuned in to this movie looking for fresh material from one of the most talented entertainers alive (like I did), you might wind up a bit disappointed. I didn’t find the story too compelling and Rhianna’s contribution was pretty minimal. It seemed like any random actress could have played that role. Guava Island is basically a 60 minute music video for songs we’ve already heard. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not what I was hoping for.

Replay Value: Not too much.

Sequel Potential: Shouldn’t be any.

Oscar Potential: Does this qualify for the Short Film category? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an short film nominee and I’ll go out on a limb and say I still haven’t.

5/10 (Decent)

Leave No Trace (2018)
Director: Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone)
Starring: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? Very good. Leave No Trace is about a war vet that finds solace living completely off the grid, in the woods of a park in Portland, Oregon, with his teenage daughter. This is their way of life and it seems like his daughter has never known any other way of living. This film is shot entirely in the Pacific Northwest (my home) and showcases how beautiful this part of the country is. I really enjoyed taking this journey with the two main characters, as they are plucked out of their routine and forced to live a “normal” life – you know, with housing, showers, electronic communication, and *shudders* responsibilities – and how each of them react to their new environment. Leave No Trace is a powerful film about survival, family, and how not everyone is wired the same way. Debra Granik is also responsible for directing the excellent Winter Bone that made Jennifer Lawrence a star and I’ve now thoroughly enjoyed both films I’ve seen from her, making her a name to keep an eye on.

Replay Value: I’d be happy to watch this again.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: This film got basically zero awards attention and that makes it one of the most underrated films of 2018.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Tag (2018)
Director: Jeff Tomsic
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress

Anticipation Level: Low

How Was It? Perfect! I mean… I go see a movie in theaters most weeks and I skipped this one, so I obviously wasn’t expecting much from it. Actually, I expected it to suck and found it to be quite entertaining. It’s not a high level comedy, but it was funny enough and this group of guys make for a good team. In fact, this world needs more Jon Hamm in comedic roles. I’m not sure what it is about him – maybe it’s the fact that he looks like someone that should only be in serious roles – but he is naturally hilarious. Jeremy Renner is also great in this, basically channelling his Hawkeye character for this game of adult tag. I was ready to poke holes in the plot but the script kept finding ways to plug them. It’s not a great film, but it’s a fun and mindless comedy.

Replay Value: Comedies always play best the first time around.

Sequel Potential: This is a story that could keep on going.

Oscar Potential: None

6/10 (Recommended)

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Coco (2017), Gerald’s Game (2017)

December 13, 2017

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Director: Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2)

Bottom Line: I loved it. What a feel good movie about family, passion, music, love, loss, memory, and, of course, death. Coco is a return to form for Pixar, combining absolutely beautiful CG animation with memorable characters and an enriching, funny story that pulls at the heart strings. Bring your Kleenex! This is Pixar’s best original film since Up in 2009.

Replay Value: Pretty close to a must own. I would definitely enjoy watching this multiple times.
Sequel Potential: Hit animated films always have sequel potential, but I think this would work best as a standalone film.
Oscar Potential: Best Animated Film nomination is a lock. There is potential for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Possibly Best Original Song for “Remember Me.”

Grade: 8/10 (Must See)

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Mike Flanagan (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Hush)

Bottom Line: Gerald’s Game is a taut psychological thriller based on a short, overlooked Stephen King novel about a woman that goes on a remote cabin getaway with her husband in the hopes of rekindling their marriage. He cuffs her to the bed, she hates it, implores him to let her free, but… he has a heart attack and falls off the bed, wounding himself fatally. So she’s stuck there, handcuffed to the bed, with no food, and no company except a hungry, stray dog that wanders into the house and the figments of her deteriorating psychosis. Gerald’s Game is a surprisingly deep and emotional film considering the vast majority of it takes place on a bed with a woman that can barely move. Carla Gugino gives a phenomenal performance. This movie is streaming on Netflix and I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys psychological thrillers and doesn’t mind the claustrophobic circumstances.

Replay Value: Not a great candidate for multiple viewings, but it’s something you could revisit many years later.
Sequel Potential: Zero.
Oscar Potential: Carla Gugino is fantastic in this. Not sure how a Netflix movie plays into the Oscar races, but I’ll guess she doesn’t get much consideration.

Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)

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It (2017): A Horror Masterpiece?

September 8, 2017

Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer
Director: Andy Muschietti (Mama, Inception, Memento)

Bottom Line: I loved It. Seriously. During the first half I wanted to stand up and yell out how much I was enjoying the movie. That’s how deliriously giddy I was. Basically all my critiques about the novel are completely absent from this adaptation and all the things I hated about the miniseries are fixed (you can read my spoiler filled reviews of those by clicking here). It’s like director Andy Muschietti and his team of writers took a nice looking statue and chiseled away until it was perfection. Okay, It isn’t quite a perfect film but it’s about as good as you can expect a horror movie to be.

The cast in this movie is borderline unbelievable. It’s one of the film’s biggest strengths. I thought the character of loud mouth Richie Tozier was frequently annoying in the book – and maybe he was supposed to be – but Finn Wolfhard (from “Stranger Things“) absolutely crushes this role, with a solid assist from the writers with some hilarious dialogue writing. Seriously, he is going to make people laugh the entire movie. And while the spirit of the character is Stephen King’s creation, Richie Tozier is a highlight of this movie because of someone else’s writing and Finn’s fantastic delivery. Hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak is another one of the weaker characters in the book and Jack Dylan Grazer makes him quite enjoyable in this movie. I was also happy with the casting of Stuttering Bill, Beverly Marsh, and Ben Hanscom, and the kids playing Bill and Bev do a good job of carrying the film. The final two kids in The Loser’s Club, Stan Uris and Mike Hanlon, sort of get reduced roles in this movie and I was pretty indifferent about it.

Can Tim Curry’s “tour-de-force” performance in the 1990 version ever be topped? Of course it can. It was brutally campy and the construction of the Pennywise scenes were horrible. Unless you have an irrational fear of clowns there was nothing scary about Tim Curry as Pennywise. Now I’m not one that scares easily and I’m more apt to find glee in a well done horror sequence than jump out of my seat in fear, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise is scary as shit. If you’ve seen the trailers for this movie, you can probably already guess that though. Skarsgard is great and while there is some playfulness to his take on Pennywise, there’s nothing campy about it – it’s more along the lines of a child molester trying to lure a kid into his van with a piece of candy playful and he can switch to purely terrifying in a second. In addition to Skarsgard doing a wonderful job, he also looks great and Muschietti gives Pennywise’s presence the gravity that it deserves. This isn’t a deranged Ronald McDonald spouting one-liners on a bender, it’s pure evil personified and pretty much every scene involving the clown form of It are extremely well done.

I have basically no complaints about this movie. There were some things that were left out that I would have liked to have seen, like It taking the forms of the werewolf and the spider, or the scene with the leeches, but I think most of the changes that were made from the source material and the miniseries were huge improvements.

This is a movie about a group of kids squaring off against the town monster, but it’s also a great story about friendship, coming of age, and facing less supernatural terrors like bullies and abusive parents. I would have no problem with someone saying It is basically Stand By Me or The Goonies meets A Nightmare On Elm Street. That’s an apt description, but to label It an A Nightmare On Elm Street rip off would not only be a disservice, it would be misguided since Stephen King was likely writing his novel around the same time Wes Craven was writing the original Freddy Krueger movie.

I can’t recommend this movie enough. If you’re a horror fan, it’s a must watch. It might go down as a genre classic. If you enjoyed the novel or, somehow, the miniseries, I can almost guarantee this movie will make you incredibly happy. Fast-paced, totally scary, and plenty funny, It is easily one of the best times I’ve had at the movies this year.

Also, if you happen to own the 1990 miniseries, you can go ahead and toss it in the trash. There is no reason to ever watch it again now. Seriously.

Replay Value: I can’t wait to see it again. I might go again opening weekend and I will definitely add this to my movie collection.
Sequel Potential: Spoiler alert: this is Chapter One. It is a monster that reappears in Derry every 27 years and it’s no secret that these kids all come back as adults to face off again when It returns. Chapter One is a great stand alone film that pretty much wraps everything up. There is no need for a Chapter Two and the kid portion of Stephen King’s book is significantly better than the adult portion. Still, if they cast well and Andy Muschietti is involved, I will be ecstatic to see Chapter Two.
Oscar Potential: Horror movies historically get zero Oscar attention. I’m not sure It has any obvious candidates.

Grade: 8 (Must See)

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IT by Stephen King: the 1986 novel and the 1990 miniseries

April 8, 2017

In anticipation of the upcoming film adaption of Stephen King’s classic horror novel It, I decided to revisit both the book and the 1990 made-for-TV miniseries.

WARNING!! While I usually avoid SPOILERS in all my blog posts, I am going to discuss It freely since the novel was published over 30 years ago.

I read the novel in my early teens, which was one of my greatest reading accomplishments as a kid since the book clocks in at over 1100 pages – quite a task for a young teenager. My recall of the book was pretty limited – I remembered a werewolf, a spider, the house on Nieboldt Street, Stuttering Bill, and that the book was way scarier than the miniseries, which I had already seen prior to reading It for the first time. I also remember thinking that It was my favorite book for a very long time – probably up until I majored in English in college and read a number of expertly written pieces of fiction and my overall range of literature tastes drastically increased.

Amazingly, what I did not remember was that Beverly Marsh, the lone girl in the Loser’s Club, has sex with all the boys, one after the other, thinking that doing so will somehow enable them to escape the sewers below Derry, Maine. This happens when they are in elementary school. How a teenager reading this book forgets a scene like that, I have no idea. How does Stephen King even write a scene like that? How does his publisher let him?

Revisiting the novel as an adult was much like the experience the Loser’s Club have when they grow up and move away from Derry: they all forget the terrible things that happened to them when they were kids. Aside from the few things I mentioned above, reading this book again was like reading it for the first time. The characters all felt familiar as I was introduced to them, as did a number of sequences, but a lot of it I didn’t remember at all.

I guess I should summarize the plot for those that might not know. It is the story of a group of kids that come together to square off against an ancient evil that frequently takes the form of Pennywise the clown, but can shape shift into whatever it is Its target fears the most, all while systematically picking off the children (and sometimes the adults) of Derry, Maine. This is something that happens every 27 years or so in Derry, so after an epic battle with It in the summer of 1958, the Loser’s Club, as they call themselves, all vow to return if It ever comes back to Derry. And It does, in 1985, when the kids have all grown up and become exceptionally successful adults, aside from Mike Hanlon, who stayed behind in Derry to keep watch. So they all come back to face off with their childhood monster and vanquish It once and for all.

While I adored this novel as a kid, I really liked it as an adult, but some of the flaws are way more apparent. Stephen King’s work is often criticized for not trimming the fat off his stories and that’s evident while reading It. King will frequently introduce a character, dive into a long and deep backstory, and then immediately kill that character off, all in the same chapter. While the backstories can sometimes be fun and do help develop a feel for the characters, one has to wonder if including said character is even necessary at all when King’s only plans for these people are to die. It’s like watching a bad horror movie where all these random people are picked off by our favorite masked killer, but having to watch a half hour of exposition before each murder scene.

Also, Mike Hanlon does a lot of investigating into the history of It in Derry and while this stuff is interesting and does pertain to the main story (that, historically, It haunts Derry every 27 years), a mention of why he’s looking into things and what he discovers would have sufficed just fine, but instead King dedicates what feels like at least a hundred pages to both the actual investigating sequences and to tragic events that happened in Derry in the distant past. I listened to It on Audible and I frequently tuned out for lengthy periods of time during these sequences. I just didn’t care.

I also found most of the story that occurs when the Loser’s Club are adults to be kind of grating. While the kids are incredibly likable and their story is enthralling and feels authentic, things feel way more forced for the adult group. While loudmouth Richie Tozier comes across as endearingly annoying as a kid, carrying over that exact same persona to an adult version is just plain obnoxious. With the exception of Ben Hanscom, who sheds all his excess weight and seems to have confidence as an adult, it seems like the rest of The Loser’s Club experience almost no maturity or emotional growth in the 27 years since they left Derry. Likewise, the encounters with It as kids are way more scary and fun than the ones they have as adults, although Beverly Marsh’s first adult confrontation is pretty chilling.

Finally, I am not a fan of King’s handling of where It came from. I’m talking about The Turtle and all that weird stuff that happens at the end of the book. What has been a taut, terrifying tale about a monster that terrorizes kids in a small town suddenly zooms way out and becomes a story about multiple planes of existent and ancient overlords (Gods?). Say what? If King gave no explanation of what It is or where It came from, I think the novel would still be plenty enjoyable. Probably better.

Still, It is plenty fun and these problems don’t ruin the book, they just make it clear that it isn’t quite the masterpiece I made it out to be when I was thirteen years old. It’s easy for me to point out all the things that kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but I still think It is one of the best horror stories I’ve ever read and ranks up there with The Stand as my favorite King book.

Before I move on to the miniseries, I feel I should note that Steven Weber (from the early 90’s television show “Wings”) does an AMAZING job reading this book. I was blown away really, particularly with how he handled Stuttering Bill – it’s a great performance and it really enhanced my listening experience.

Okay, so the 1990 miniseries. I hated it. I still hate it. It’s TERRIBLE. I’ve seen it three times now: before I ever read the book and immediately after reading it as a teenager and listening to it as an adult. The first time I saw it, I didn’t realize how bad it sucked, but I did after reading the book and I still do now.

Tim Curry has earned a heap of praise for his portrayal of Pennywise, and while I enjoy his work here just fine, it reminds me of Jack Nicholson as The Joker in the 1989 version of Batman: it’s a bit over-the-top and grossly overrated. When I read or hear people say that no one will be able to Pennywise justice after Curry’s portrayal, I can’t help but smirk. Of course they can. It’s not difficult to imagine a capable actor doing a better job. Curry gives a very mischievous, somewhat hokey performance that isn’t particularly scary and I think Pennywise is supposed to be way more terrifying. I think a lot of people are simply afraid of clowns and that phobia makes Curry’s Pennywise seem scarier than It actually is.

Still, Curry was pretty good casting for Pennywise and gives what is probably the best and clearly the most memorable performance of the miniseries. Everyone else is far more questionable. While John Ritter, Seth Green and Annette O’Toole have had respectable careers and don’t embarrass themselves here, the rest of the cast is filled with mostly unknowns and none of them elevated their careers with their acting in this miniseries. Almost universally, everyone is giving a cheesy performance and thus, it’s hard to take anything that happens on screen too seriously and it definitely lowers the scare factor substantially. Jonathon Brandis looks good as Stuttering Bill, but the poor kid’s ability to produce a natural-sounding stutter is nonexistent. Young Ben Hanscom actually does a good job, but he’s far more trim and confident than he’s supposed to be. I couldn’t stand the adult version of Bill Denbrough and his ridiculous ponytail. I could go on, but there is very little to like about the look of the characters or the acting in this adaptation and it really took away from my enjoyment.

Also, it’s weird that a miniseries that runs at almost three hours can feel so rushed. While the writers and editors were wise to trim off a lot of King’s fat, there is very little weight to the story. It just jumps from one scene to the next with basically no development. The ongoing feud with Henry Bowers feels like more of an afterthought than the epic battle it is in the novel. Henry isn’t all that imposing. He looks and acts more like a posturing greaser than a kid that actually becomes capable of murder. And when he returns as an adult, it’s even worse – all I could think of was Martin Short as Jack Frost. Get out of here with that.

Most of the encounters with Pennywise are brief and not scary. The miniseries fails to highlight how personal the battle between the kids and the monster is. It’s young Bill Denbrough and his group of ragtag friends against the evil spirit that haunts Derry, Maine. In the miniseries, it’s a bunch of random kids played by average actors against Tim Curry in clown makeup. And, to me, that’s the gist of why the miniseries was an incredible fail – it just feels so unbearably empty and the overall cheese factor only makes it worse.

Because I really enjoyed the book and absolutely loathed the miniseries, It has long been at the top of my list of properties in desperate need of a remake – ever since that trend has become rampant in Hollywood. With modern technology and evidence that breaking a single story into multiple movies is a viable business plan, it’s pretty clear someone can finally do Stephen King’s epic novel justice – and if the first trailer is any indication it looks like they have.

As far as I know, the film being released this September focuses on the kids and their battle with Pennywise, taking place in the 1980s – and you know what, that should be the only movie they make. As I’ve noted above, the story doesn’t work nearly as well when they are all grown up and I can only imagine a second movie dedicated to the adults will pale in comparison. I imagine the filmmakers are going to leave the weird children’s sex scene on the cutting room floor and I HOPE they don’t include the turtle and all that multiple planes of existence stuff. The trailer looks great: the tone looks serious, scary, haunting… the kids look well cast… I have high hopes for Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. There’s nothing funny or “clownish” about that trailer…

…and because of that… It (2017) is my most anticipated movie of the year!

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The Stand by Stephen King

April 30, 2015

Note: I’m no book reviewer so I’m not going to dig too deep into this, but since I posted my thoughts on a separate website, I figured I might as well post them on my blog.

Just finished listening to The Stand. For what it is commonly considered the best Stephen King book ever, I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. Maybe it was the format – I do feel like I lose some the experience by listening to a book instead of reading it myself. Maybe I space out for a period. Maybe I have a more difficult time creating a picture in my head through the audio format. Maybe it just isn’t as good as people have made it out to be. I’m not sure.

lots of spoilers

I think my main concern is that it is supposed to be this epic battle of good versus evil and there is all this build up, but then the confrontation with Flagg is over before you even realize it. They show up in Vegas, briefly interact with Flagg, and then Trash Can Man nukes everybody. Game over. End of story. I didn’t think that could possibly be the end of it – but then it was. Also, when Nick Andros died, I felt like I was getting duped. Up to that point, I had viewed him as the main character and then I felt like he died before doing anything super important. In fact, after his death, I posted on Facebook: “If Nick Andros really just died in The Stand then I know nothing about writing.” Was his main purpose to send Tom Cullen out to be a spy? What exactly did Tom Cullen uncover anyway? I feel like the only critical thing that happened out of all that spy stuff was that Tom found Stu on his way back.

Obviously, at 48 hours of listening time, I had to enjoy the experience overall. I liked the characters and I was intrigued by the story, but in the end, I just felt incredibly let down. This would be a whole lot less surprising if The Stand wasn’t so highly lauded. In the Stephen King catalog alone, It is far, far superior.

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Revisiting 1990: Misery

September 26, 2010

“I am your number one fan.”

Considered For: Top 5, Top Horror Film

Plot: Successful author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) traps himself in his car after getting in an accident during a blizzard. He is saved when Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) pulls him out and lets him recover in her home. As Sheldon lies crippled in a bed, Annie slowly starts to unravel and show her true colors, especially after she discovers that Paul plans to kill off his famed heroine Misery in his latest novel, and the author realizes that his life might be in danger.

I can’t think of a Stephen King adaptation I like more than Misery, but that is because none of those films had a performance as strong as Kathy Bates was in this movie. Kathy Bates is this movie. Outside of James Caan, who is pretty limited considering he’s confined to a bed for most of the film, and the sheriff and his wife, there aren’t many characters in Misery to speak of, so Bates really had a lot riding on her performance and she carries that burden like a badge of honor. Deserving of an easy Oscar win, Bates channels her inner psychopath as her character Annie Wilkes goes from happy-go-lucky hick to deranged, violent batterer in sheer seconds. I saw this movie when I was a kid and the only thing I remembered about it was Wilkes taking a sledgehammer to Sheldon’s legs, a testament to how iconic and powerful that scene was. This movie is the epitome of suspense and will have you on edge the whole time. I’m considering it for my top horror movie of 1990, but I’m not really sure if fits my definition of a horror movie. I’d place Misery in the suspense/thriller category and it’s a top notch effort. Highly recommended and a must see for Kathy Bates going completely insane.

Grade: B+
Viewings: 2
Replay Value: Worth revisiting every several years or so.
Sequel Potential: None
Oscars?: A win for Bates
Nudity?: None