on January 15, 2003
The Stanley Kubrick version of this story was a classic in its own right, but IMO should not be considered to be a movie version of the book at all. Stephen King's book, and the miniseries version on this DVD, are a "haunted house" story. Kubrick's film is a psychological thriller. They are not even in the same genre.
That said, the Kubrick film is better in terms of sheer filmmaking - when Kubrick was on, he was really, really good, and it shows in his version of this story. Sadly, that fact is often missed by the legions of fans who get so caught up in "it's not like the book"-itis that they don't enjoy the film for what it is. Jack Nicholson is a far better actor than Steven Weber, and it shows.
The miniseries, however, has one HUGE advantage - with a total of nearly 8 hours of "movie" to work with, they were able to keep the storyline virtually untouched. Although I am typically not a believer - there are just not very many movies made from novels that even remotely resemble their original source material ( "Exit To Eden," originally an erotic novel by Anne Rice, turned into a Dan Aykroyd comedy, just LEAPS to mind for some reason...) - this movie is as close to a perfect conversion of a novel as I've seen.
The creepy moments are really, really creepy - the scene with topiary animals moving closer every time the camera pans away absolutely makes your skin crawl, even if you're prepared for it. Although Steven Weber isn't Jack Nicholson, the character he's playing isn't a "Jack" kind of guy - and Weber fills the role admirably, even though occasionally the touching family scenes teeter RIGHT on the edge of being maudlin.
If you have the patience for it, which I notice at least one other viewer didn't, this is in fact an excellent film. Just don't consider this and the Stanley Kubrick movie to be different versions of the same story - they're not, and the comparison will make both films suffer. You're better off to enjoy them both as distinct, separate entities, with very different agendas.
Oh, and do NOT turn your back on any hedge lions.
on September 10, 2003
As someone who has always loved the Stanley Kubrick interpretation of this story, I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed this one. Having never read the book, I never knew that the Kubrick version was so different from Stephen King's original story. The two films are definitely two completely different stories.
The charactors in this version are so much more developed and believably realistic.
Steven Weber's Jack Torrence is a normal guy that is trying hard to deal with his alcoholism and anger, and also keep his family together, while at the same time being slowly consumed by the forces of the Overlook Hotel. He is much more that just a babbling Psycho.
Rebecca De Mornay's Wendy is a more believable, strong wife also struggling to maintain her marriage and protect her son. This is definitely not the whimpering and submissive Wendy of the Kubrick version.
I rcommend this film to any fan of Stephen King. This DVD makes a great addition to any good horror library.
If you liked the Stanley Kubrick version of this story, I think you will be pleasantly suprised.
on November 5, 2002
I have been waiting for this one. This mini-series is, by far, the best of the King epics. A great story woven around very interesting, and very human, characters. Slick Steven Webber proves to be much more than just cocky Brian Hackett from Wings, and really delivers the goods. Whereas Nicholson was crazy from the get go (King's major objection to the Kubrick film version), Webber's incarnation of Jack Torrance runs the gambit of human emotions throughout. Even in the depths of his psychosis, he is is a tragically compassionate figure, fighting evil and himself as best he can. Also, the Overlook hotel never looked better. This mini-series was actually filmed at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, the much fabled place where King stayed one weekend with his family that inspired him to pen the Shining in the first place. This is the Shining the way Stephen King wanted it made and, frankly, it puts the Nicholson version in it's place.
I'm a big fan of the TV mini-series work done by Mick Garris and Stephen King. "The Stand", "It", "Tommyknockers", "The Langoliers", "Salems Lot", "Storm of the Century", "Rose Red" etc. (I know Garris wasn't involved with all of them, but he's helmed the best of the lot so far and is synonymous with the King Mini-series niche)I was looking forward to "The Shining" when it was first broadcast, and recently re-watched the DVD presentation.
The Good: Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay do a really good job as Jack and Wendy Torrance. Weber specifically handles the job of playing an alcoholic struggling to remain sober very well. Melvin Van Peebles is also fantastic as Dick Holleran who first recognizes Danny's ability to shine. Outside of the acting, the setting is top notch, and creates a great sense of isolation. I love the way the "Overlook Hotel" becomes a formidable and frightening place as the movie plays out, and the soundtrack by Nicholas Pike is top notch, at times echoing "The Amityville Horror" and "The Haunting" scores.
The Bad: The special effects are fairly weak, while the "lady in the bathtub" looks pretty chilling, all suspension of disbelief is lost when the topiary begins moving onscreen. The initial topiary attack on Jack is done with sound and quick cuts to the various hedged wildlife, and is very effective. This is soon replaced with lousy CGI effects of the woodland critters moving through the snow, and it just looks awful. Courtland Mead as Danny Torrance is a tough call. It's such a HUGE and integral part of the story you need a really strong actor to carry the role, and Mead just isn't up to it. His lisping, baby-talk voice gets grating very quickly.
I thought this was a decent film, nowhere near the adaptations of "It" or "The Stand" though. And it's tough, because inevitably comparisons will be drawn to Kubrick's "The Shining". Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance in that film has become a horror icon. And while Weber is good, you can't help but draw comparisons to Nicholson's character. Still, if you are a fan of King's novel, and enjoy the various mini-series that have come out over the past few decades based on his work, you will probably like this version of "The Shining".
on October 28, 2002
This is a ABC (I think) miniseries based on the shining. It really does a great job of following the book, much better than the old Jack Nicholson movie (but then they also had 3-4 more hours to play with).
Basically, if you've seen the Nicholson film, forget it! There are obviously a lot of similarities, but a different feel, in the old movie the villian mostly seems to be the father, in the book and this version it is obviously the hotel that is evil.
This is the story of a truly loving family with problems. A father who was a raving alcoholic, but who after losing his job and a family 'incident' gave up drinking, a wife who loves her husband enough to forgive, but can't forget, and a little boy, Danny, who is very physic, who knows where lost things are and what Daddy is doing miles away, while struggling to appear `normal.' They have a LOT of issues, but they love each other deeply.
In an attempt to turn their life around, the father takes a job at the Overlook, a hotel that is so remote, that it has to be shut down in the winter. They will be snowed in with no contact with the outside world for most of winter, and Dad will have a chance to write a Play that will put his career back on track. The only problem is the hotel has a long past....and a consciousness. Over the years every accidental ...or not so accidental death that has occurred in the Overlook has fed that consciousness. And Danny's gift would give it unbelievable power, but how to get him?
You watch in tense anticipation as the hotel tries to seduce a loving father into become the tool to get his son. It will be a long process, but it has all winter....
An awesome movie based on an even better book.
on February 9, 2015
A very clear example of a competent director (Mick Garris) versus what an exceptional director can accomplish (Stanley Kubrick). Movies are rarely better than the books. My personal two are Jaws and M.A.S.H. I would say the films are far superior to the books. And yes, I have read more than two books. Now the Stephen King's The Shining (1997). A play by play script of the book makes the mini-series fall far short. The things that had you turning the pages of the books came across as cheap thrills one has seen 100 times on screen. Did anyone else notice the actor’s consistent glances at cue-cards behind the camera? Or how rushed the performances where? It does not look like any rehearsal where done. The mini-series does have a lot of veteran actor’s whose talents are wasted. Rebecca De Mornay is the main reason for my high rating of two stars. She is a good actor as well as being very easy on the eyes. The best scene in the mini-series is when she tries to seduce Steven Weber, in a white teddy.
on December 11, 2010
Over 3 discs and 273 minutes, we are told Stephen King's version of THE SHINING. But while a few scenes are well done, for the most part, this overly long adaption never achieves the "madness" of Kubrick's film.
Worst of all, the hotel never even seems to be snowed in or istolated! It's MUCH smaller than Kubricks' Overlook, so you never get to nervously wonder what "else" is going on in the hotel. And all of the "set-ups" go nowhere.
For example (SPOILER), the "lawn animals" come alive and threaten Danny at the end of disc 2--well, when you start disc 3 wondering how he will escape...the animals simply return to their "non-alive" state. And while the scene with the woman in the bathtub is very well shot...it too, goes nowhere. There is the idea that a real woman is living away in the hotel--a scary thought--but it's dropped and Wendy agrees that maybe Danny smeared lipstick on himself and choked himself.
While Kubrick's film also starts slowly, there is a sense of dread. The TV version starts slowly...but it's slow for 90 minutes! It's simply too long with flashbacks that are not needed (Jack hurting the school boy, etc.) and when things start happening (achieved best in the 2nd disk) you realize that there is STILL 90 mins left.
And that's where this version totally falls apart. Jack has 90 mins to kill his wife and son. But. He. Can't. Quite. Do. It.
I mean, half a dozen times he has his wife cornered, the mallet is raised...and he doesn't do it. And then, when he's READY to do it...the ghosts say, "You should really kill the boy first." Just dreadful pacing and plotting (and King is to blame since he wrote it.) If this was a 2-night, 4 hour movie, it would have been MUCH better.
And what's the point of REDRUM? It appears on the wall and as we all know, it means MURDER. But the payoff here is just silly. Same with the ending---while I like King's idea of the boiler blowing up, having the ghosts come and help/fight Jack is a mistakes--um, ghosts can't die, and if they were so desperate for Jack to kill his son, why did they let him waste all that time "trying" to kill is wife?
Stick with Kubrick or King's book--skip this.
First, this movie is without a doubt better than its reputation. Anytime a classic movie is remade, there will always be a faction that says it's sacrilege, and will hate the outcome no matter what its quality. In some cases, that viewpoint is justified, but not with Stephen King's and Mick Garris's version of The Shining. I'm not foolish enough to try and make the case that this movie is as good as Stanley Kubrick's because hardly anyone would agree with that. The case I'm making is that it is mostly well-acted, convincingly told, more faithful to the novel, and entirely worth seeing if you like creepy ghost stories or are a fan of Stephen King. Steven Weber is obviously not of the same caliber as Jack Nicholson, but he has some great moments and particularly stands out in the climax. Rebecca De Mornay's Wendy is far less whiny and pathetic than Shelley Duvall's, and is actually blonde like the character in the book. Mario Van Peebles is excellent as Dick Halloran, in my opinion as entertaining as Scatman Crothers. And I think Courtland Mead does a great job as Danny. His seizures are definitely scarier than the vibrating face employed by Danny Lloyd, and while he's not as strong an overall actor as Lloyd was, his performance is better than passable.
Another big difference from Kubrick's version is using an actor for the character Tony. I do think his acting is one of the movie's weaknesses, but you don't have to sit through the talking finger from the old movie, so it kind of evens out. This version uses details like the Overlook's boiler that are important to the book's plot but were left out of Kubrick's film. Also, the original ending from the novel is intact and fairly well done, with no maze chase or frozen Jack Torrance, and even though people complain about Jack using the croquet mallet instead of the axe, it's how the story was originally written. The movie even boldly includes Jack's vicious assault on Wendy near the end in a scene of graphic violence not typically shown on major networks. I've seen all of the numerous TV adaptations and remakes that have been attempted of Stephen King material and I think The Shining is one of the best of them. It's not as good as the original Salem's Lot or It, but it's better than The Tommyknockers, The Langoliers, and the Carrie remake, and about as good as The Stand, Sometimes They Come Back, and Desperation. This movie deserves a very solid four stars.
on July 10, 2016
This is the best version of THE SHINING out there. It is far spookier than the shorter version and goes into the book version much better. Far more detail and makes your hair stand on end in places.
The scenes where you just know the topiary animals are going to start moving makes me especially jumpy. Nothing gets me scared--I used to have to work with dead bodies, so seriously. But this DVD set just about does it. Get it!
on September 20, 2013
When you're bringing a book to the big screen you can't leave everything in it or it becomes tiresome. For some reason King likes to make his movies way too long and this is one of the setbacks of this particular mini.
While Steven Weber did a good job no one could beat Jack Nicholson. While it is true that he acted crazy a bit too fast, his acting in the first version was excellent. Weber did a great job too and looked eerie as hell in the end but his personality wasn't as enjoyable. And his dialogue sucks!! "Come take your medicine pup??!?!?"
Rebecca DeMornay is a talented actress (loved her in the hand that rocks the cradle) but she wasn't right for this part. Her and the boy had no chemistry until about half way through. Her character was stronger than Shelley Duvalls' but they may have made her a bit too much, while having Jack a little too passive and whipped. Shelleys submissiveness was pretty extreme but it helped the plot and caused a bigger cheering when the timid rabbit whacked her hubby with the baseball bat.
The little boy was awful - he overacted and overdramatized everything. I didn't find him well casted at all and the scenes with him were painful. I couldnt get into the movie when he was around because I was too busy being shocked out of my trance listening to him talk. Holloran is simply a plot device used to fill space.
The ending was not in the original OR the book - and it was a little too happy-go-lucky. Cheesy and rivals Disney productions.
From the VERY beginning we have the hotel doing wierd shit by moving objects, ect, everytime someone leaves the room. Boy does it get tiresome! The worst way to try and evoke fear in someone. By putting it straight in their face from the start and being so damned obvious. Like when they leave the old cash register pops up the no sale sign. WTF?? And how many doors need to close by themselves?
The hedge animals were an awesome idea. Originally Kurbick wanted to use them but he couldnt get the effects to work so opted for the maze instead. I was stoked on finally seeing these hedge animals but was sorely dissapointed. They look like cheap CGI and are horribly unconvincing. After thought, I decided I prefered the maze. It was used to heighten tension in the original and mazes are pretty creative. I may have liked the hedge animals more if they had been made to appear more intense.
Another problem was "Tony". In the Kubrick version he was in the boys mouth, and we didnt see him. We just saw the kid go into a wierd trance and use his finger to talk in a different voice. We didnt know if he was nuts, if someone *was* there, if this person was responsible for the shining, ect. In this movie they use an actual person - and a flat acting one at that. With glasses and short hair and no expression. He says obvious things just to insult the audiences intelligence even more. And he seems to have very little influence on Danny.
Sometimes mystery is good. Here everything - every twist and turn - is explained way too much and in intricate detail. I felt like a 3rd grader learning about the history of haunted houses.
And how could they butcher the significance of Redrum so horribly? In the movie during Dannys trances (the original) and the book it was said as a wierd word and at the end it is shown in the mirror to spell "murder". Here they just said it for the heck of it, because they thought people loved hearing the word, and it was overused and any significance lost.
Since this was a TV mini the violence, any disturbing images, blood, anything is watered down so much it contains NOTHING serious for adult fans.
Also in the original you can take Jacks madness from either the hotel causing it or the point of isolation and cabin fever. Here there's only one answer fed to us on a silver spoon: ITS ALL ABOUT THE HOTEL.
I prefer the more human-relatedapproach. Make it about people and not a building.