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Prior to the release of It, The Stand was my favourite King novel. It's
a gargantuan effort which weaves a huge cast of disparate characters
into an epic tale of the struggle between good and evil on the eve of
Armageddon. I used to think about what kind of a movie could be
constructed from the novel, even going so far as to pick a cast, but I
always knew in my heart that the sheer magnitude of the undertaking
would undoubtedly make an effective translation to screen impossible.
My worst fears were realised when I walked into my local video store one fine day last year and saw a poster for its upcoming release. The words "teleplay" struck instant fear into my heart, having been burned before by the made for TV adaptation of It, and when I scanned the cast list I nearly started screaming. Molly Ringwald?!! Rob Lowe?!! As Nick Andros?!! It was horrible, just horrible, and I resolved never to subject myself to the nightmare which I knew waited inside that double-cassette cover.
But one day I got bored, a few hours to kill before I went out on the town, so I figured what the heck, might as well give it a go, I can always drown my sorrows after it's over. I took the video home, made myself a strong cup of coffee, and sat down to partake of the carnival of horrors which had patiently waited to entrap me.
The film runs for a tad under six hours. I watched nearly five that day, and only left the last hour until the following day because the sun had set and fellow partygoers were banging on my door. This scene has been repeated by virtually everybody I know who has hired the film, and with good reason.
The Stand is a tour de force, a film which proves that a good story well told with a capable cast can overcome any censorship restrictions television cares to impose. I just don't know where to begin in my praise of this masterwork. I could praise those concerned for enticing King himself to write the teleplay, thereby ensuring it followed the novel almost to the letter, allowing the characters time to grow, to become real people, people we can love or hate, people we can root for or hiss at. Every major scene is there, lovingly recreated for our viewing pleasure, and it proves that King can claim a keen eye for the visual medium amongst his many talents.
I could praise the casting, which is as damn near perfect as you're ever going to get. There's Gary Sinise ("Lieutenant Dan" from Forrest Gump), who plays Stu Redman like he was born to the role. Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe actually turn in stellar performances. The characters I'd known and loved - Tom Cullen, Lloyd, Glen Bateman, Larry Underwood - are all there, and when the movie was over I discovered that, however I had pictured them when I had read the novel, it was now impossible to imagine them as anything else. That's perhaps the highest praise which can be afforded an actor, and whoever the casting director was should have a statue erected in their honour. I would also like to mention the superb casting of Randall Flagg, "The Walkin' Dude". I couldn't believe it when he first appeared - "That's not him!" were the exact words which issued from my lips. The Walkin' Dude was supposed to be evil, fer chrissakes, and this guy looked liked he'd just stepped out of a Levis commercial. However, as the film wore on I realised just what a magical piece of casting had been wrought. Flagg is evil personified, sure enough, but he's also charismatic. After all, how many people, however blackhearted, would follow someone who actually resembled the evil he represented? So we have this good-looking, amiable dude who runs around recruiting his dark army, but there's always something not quite right about him, an edge to his smile, a flash in his eyes. Then, as things begin to fall apart, his true character reasserts itself, and it's even more shocking by virtue of the "nice-guy" image which he'd previously worn. Classic stuff, and it proved beyond a doubt why I'm an accountant, not a casting director.
I could praise the music, which unfailingly matches the mood, and which positively soars during the Wild Bunch-style scenes in which the four chosen ones commence their pilgrimage to Vegas. This is the kind of thing which doesn't take much to do, but which lends an epic quality to the proceedings.
And that's what really nails this film down as a classic - the little touches which ensure the film stays in the mind long after the credits have rolled. The slow degeneration of Ed Harris' general. Molly Ringwald's understated reaction to the death of her beloved father. Lloyd's realisation that things are falling apart, countered by his knowledge that he's committed, for better or worse. So much could have gone wrong in these six hours, so many cliché's enacted, and every potential obstacle is avoided with the expert skill of an Olympic slalom competitor.
I urge you to head down to your video store this weekend and rent this film. Take the phone off the hook, draw the blinds, stock up on Coke and munchies and settle in for six hours of unadulterated brilliance.
It *shines*, friends. I can say no more than that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know if Stephen King is a religious man or not but this movie is the greatest example of good vs evil that I have seen in a movie. There is so much taken from the bible about the final battle of God and Satan and what leads up to it is what makes this movie a true classic. The characters are displayed as humans with many problems but because of the time spent building up who they are, when a number of them die, a pain is felt for their loss. This film contains no superheroes who use their strengths of martial arts, guns or wits to fight Randall Flagg, the person of satan, just the trusting of a God that has a use for them. Dreams and visions inspire them to search for Mother Abigail Freemantle, who is 106 years old, and is used by God to encourage them to travel to Colorado. God can use anybody (mentally retarded Tom Cullen, old man Glen Bateman, old farmboy Ralph Brentner and even a deaf and mute non-believer of God, Nick Andros) in His battle against evil. Satan himself has his chosen ones (crazed trashcan man, secret spies in the camp Harold Lauder and Nadine Cross) to bring destruction to God's chosen ones. The final part as God's two witnesses stand against all of Flagg's evil henchmen, standing "in the name of God" is what makes a final battle a true final battle. Two men against hundreds, an impossibility to win but with God on your side, all things are possible. Perfect casting and perfect writing makes this the greatest of all the Stephen's Kings mini-movies. A must see, especially if the odds are against you right now!
I enjoyed this one. If you can make it through the several hours and four tapes, you'll like it too. It has some truly scary moments, and Jamey Sheridan makes a terrific Flagg. The cast gets an A(Gary Sinise especially), and you'll like it. Comparisons between this and the book wouldn't be fair (as with most Stephen King works), but you'll like both. I did. If anything, it is definitely worth a look. *** out of ****
Great job adapting a really long and complex book. The characters are
very good (Bill Fagerbakke as Tom Cullen and Ray Walston as Glen Bateman,
for example), and the storyline follows along that of the book. Of
are some things left out or changed, but that was needed to make the
only 8 hours.
This is classic Stephen King, minus a lot of the gore that sometimes he's known for. It's the perpetual fight between good and evil. It was great to watch the story of one of my favorite books. Most of the characters bring such passion and reality to the story.
As a side note, I would recommend reading the prologue in Stephen King's newest edition of The Stand where he talks about making the movie.
I read the rave reviews before I sat down to spend six hours watching
"The Stand". By the beginning of part 2, I had to stop and check IMDb
to see if there was another version, and maybe I was watching the cheap
The raves for the acting and casting baffle me most. Molly Ringwald is possibly the worst imaginable choice for such a pivotal role, and her acting throughout is embarrassingly awful. No one shines, but she stands out for all the wrong reasons.
My initial impression seemed so out of sync with the majority here that I forced myself to watch it all and keep an open mind, but the outcome didn't change.
It's tripe, people, acted and staged badly, and a total waste of six hours of your life. Read the book. It takes longer, but you'll get to do your own casting and staging, and you won't have to watch Ms. Ringwald.
Usually, when we hear about a TV miniseries, we probably think "Oh God!
Another product placement adaptation of a classic novel! Why does
Hollywood do this to us?! I'll watch that as soon as there's a
snowstorm in Rio de Janeiro!" And since Stephen King's novels are so
great, any adaptation of them is suspect, but surely a TV adaptation
would have to be the sort of thing that would make "Ishtar" look like a
cross between "Gone with the Wind" and "Citizen Kane".
Well, "The Stand" is nothing like that. I don't think that in all possibility they could have done a better job with this movie. It slowly but surely builds up the plot, then lets everything happen, and by the end, you're completely blown away.
In case you're unfamiliar with the story, it goes like this. Everything in the world is going normally, when one day, a plague starts killing everyone off. People are dying by the thousands, and the government only sees fit to declare martial law. And in the midst of it, a few people are totally immune to the disease. As the movie progresses, these people start converging on a place out in the desert. But all the while, there is an evil man plotting things. And knowing that these people have converged on a place, he may just have his own plans for them.
The truth is, I can't do "The Stand" justice by describing it. It's the sort of movie that you can't possibly understand unless you actually see it. And believe you me, you will get blown away like never before. But I can say that the martial law scenes give one a feeling of what may be coming given the current state of the world.
And the cast. Any time that a movie has a giant cast, it's once again suspect; sometimes, movies have giant casts for no other purpose except to show off a bunch of stars. This one not only has the perfect cast, but it's clearly not for show. Gary Sinise is the nominal star, but there are several others. Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, Ray Walston and Rob Lowe, to name a few. Appearing in smaller roles are Ed Harris, Kathy Bates, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and even Mike Lookinland (Bobby on "The Brady Bunch").
Look, every minute that you sit there and read my review is another minute when you're not watching the movie. SO GET OUT THERE AND RENT IT!!!!! It might just save your life one day.
If you are a King fan you will (no doubt) be aware that most of his
works have been poorly re-produced in film and/or TV. This production
is an outstanding exception. It is very faithful to the book in context
and spirit ... well acted and directed.
As an aside from the movie this story is, in my opinion, a major changing point in King's career. This story is more (or maybe as much) science fiction or fantasy than his more familiar horror style.
I am no fan of Molly Ringwald and this is her best performance of date (that I have seen). Rob Lowe (who I was also no great fan of) is brilliant and Gary Sinise as Stu was consistent and well cast.
Ruby Lee's part (probably one that would make or break the whole production) as Mother Abigail Freemantle was probably not given enough screen time but this is a HUGE book so you can't cover every moment.
Larua San Giacomo as Nadine Cross and Adam Stork as Larry Underwood were good overall but had moments of over acting .moments out of hours is not a big deal I guess! The only real disappointment was Corin Nemec as Harold Lauder. His performance was not that bad.. That was not the issue. The issue is he was all WRONG for the part. I can't think there are not fat ugly teenagers in Hollywood who could not have played this part. His "added on" acne and horn-rimmed glasses were WHOLY unconvincing. The pretty boy underneath the make up was glaringly obvious. Cast this part better and we move into 9+ ground.
This series is LONG seeing it in one sitting (unless you are a mad-for-King fan) is probably not realistic. But if you get snowed in one weekend you will be glad you had this film on hand. The only fiction series of length I have seen that is better than this is Lonesome Dove .and that is a cast I would not want to battle for second!
this is a GREAT film, IF you haven't read the book. this film has it all. romance, horror, comic relief and drama. the plot of the film is a lot different to the book i read ( by the way, there are 2 versions of the book, but i read the newest one where there are no edits). the film conforms to a lot of the book, but there are MAJOR differences that will leave your jaw ajar by the way the substitute people. but this review isn't about the book. the film is 5 1/2 hours long, but please believe me, it is well worth it. Lowe plays an AWESOME part as nick, and as usual, Gary sinese is A+++++. this film makes people think a lot, so if you like the thinking game, it is prob one of the top 10 psychological films, but there is enough drama in here to fulfil the most avid of soap fans! please, watch this film BEFORE you read the book., as the book will fulfil all those unanswered questions.
If you watch this not long after reading the book, you will not like it. Hardly surprising as most TV/Film adaptions of books are inferior to the original written word. Not that this TV series/movie isn't true to King's novel. In fact, as much of the huge book that could be filmed is indeed shown on screen, and the teleplay/screenplay is by King himself. However, if you've read the book, no doubt it was a large part of your life for sometime (the book is extremely long), and seeing the characters on the screen etc. may seem cheesey. I read the book in 1995 and watched some of this not long after; and didn't like it. Recently I bought it on video and me and a couple of friends (Hi Jenny and Mags) spent 6 hours watching, almost 7 years after I read the book. I enjoyed it more. I still remembered the book, but not in detail, and this movie/TV show was enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Back in 1994, the release of "The Stand" as a miniseries was a
hotly-debated topic among Stephen King fans. There was also a large
amount of backlash when some fans heard that Rob Lowe had been hired to
do the important role of Nick Andros.
However, whatever problems fans had about the casting was quickly dismissed.
Gary Sinise, Ray Walston, and a number of actors raise this film above your a-typical Network Television Miniseries. The good reputation that this movie rests is firmly on the acting performances, and the outstanding casting choices made for this film. There are two cameo appearances by Kathy Bates and Ed Harris, who in particular gives a haunting and memorable cameo as a deranged Army General. There are a couple of really bad spots (Molly Ringwald, Corin Nemec, a few others) but most of the casting in this film is incredible and the casting director on this film rightfully deserved accolades.
The score of this film, done by "Snuffy" Walden is first-rate. It's an outstanding score that does the film and the book justice, and is so good that it deserves to be heard on its own.
There are a number of problems with this show, most notably the interference from the Network Censors and the weakness in production values. Sometimes both of these problems are so severe that they stick out like a sore thumb. The movie has a tendency to feel *very* cheap at times. The editing at times leaves a lot to be desired. This is easily Mick Garris' best film, but Mick's from the point-and-shoot school of film-making, and it does hurt the film to a degree.
The film opens very strongly - the opening sequence is perhaps the most memorable moment of the film and pretty much the next 90 minutes (which equates to the first "episode" of the miniseries) is actually of very high quality. However, over the next 4 hours the begins a very slow slide downward in quality until the final episode, where it finally begins to REALLY look & feel like a Network miniseries. Then we have the last 25 minutes, when there's a sharp drop into "movie hell", where the film becomes hokey, amateurish, and just plain bad. Part of this is due to lesser actors being given more attention or key scenes in the later part of the show. The other problems lie in King, Garris & co's decision to go for the full-on sentimental sappiness at the end, that just drowns and smothers the dignity the story deserved and should have kept. I think a keener director would've approached this aspect of the film with a little more restraint. One really bad example I recall is the dead character of Mother Abigail given a bad special effects cut & paste job into the upper right hand corner of the screen. All of what happens over the last 25 minutes basically drags this film away from being worthy of comparison in quality to some of the better King feature film adaptations. Still, it is the second best King telefilm (in my opinion, "Storm of the Century" beats it out by a hair)
This is only one of two really really great adaptations that Stephen King had his hands involved in substantially. Most of his producing/screen writing work is firmly below this film in terms of quality.
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