.: Major Spoilers :.
The "Authorized" Version of The Shining :. Was a "Made-For-TV" movie done in 1997 to appease Stephen King's wounded ego over Stanley Kubrick's "unauthorized" movie version of his book, also entitled, "The Shining."
While faithful to the book, the remake was puerile and under-dramatized. It lacked... everything. Compared to Kubrick's adaptation, this remake had about as many "scare you" and "edge of the seat" moments as an episode of "Welcome Back Kotter." Don't get me wrong. I have been an ardent Stephen King fan most of my life. I was the 9-year old with the t-shirt that read, "Stephen King Rules." But that fact does not redeem this movie as the WORST piece of drivel ever made!!!
Other than to have an "official, authorized" version of his work, I cannot see any reason whatsoever for remaking this movie. It was a tremendous waste of time and resources, if you ask me.
Ah, the movie review. Where do I begin?
Let's start with the casting. Although Rebecca DeMornay was a believable Wendy, her portrayal was as anorexic as the bare bones skeltal remains of Queen Nefertiti. But in all fairness, that's in comparison to Shelly Duvall's brilliant performance in the Kubrick adaptation.
Steve Webber. Steve Webber vs. Jack Nicholson. Steve Webber?! I don't think I need to go here. I mean...have you seen "Wings?" He's NOT my idea of an even...competent screen presence in a movie like...well, in ANY movie. His acting ... "talents ... ?" are much better geared for the "small screen" where he can enjoy the juvenile humor and poor emotional control; be given short, easily remembered lines, with two weeks to film a 24-minute/4-segment sit-com episode.
Danny Lloyd (now a mid-western school teacher without the slightest of aspirations towards an acting career *what a loss to the movie industry!*) was so very good in the role of Danny Torrence that I don't know who they could have hired to take his place and stand in his little shoes.
However, Courtland Mead (- "Young and the Restless, The" (1973) TV Series .... Phillip Chancellor IV (1993-1995) -) CERTAINLY wasn't it. This child is a capable actor who probably followed the direction he was given, but his performance was sadly lacking. His character was hollow and as whiny as was Ms. DeMornay's but on a much more annoying scale. We'll blame that on the director.
Who was the director? Mick Garris. The same Mick Garris who also directed Stephen King's The Stand, Sleepwalkers, Tales From the Crypt and Amazing Stories, among others. So now that we know he CAN do good work, we have to stop and ask, "What happened here?"
Sorry Stephen King fans everywhere, but that leads us to Mr. King's teleplay. It was faithful to his original work and sanctioned by Mr. King, himself; therefore was dubbed the "Authorized" version. There now. I do hope you feel better, Mr. King. I, as a fan, do not.
We had the book. We read the book. We knew the book, and loved Kubrick's adaptation anyway.
The Setting and the Scenes: A Comparison of the Authorized
Version Against The Kubrick Adaptation...
Kubrick's version: the motel was an impressive piece of architecture and staging. It lent to the atmosphere, by having atmosphere itself. The furnishings and furniture was all period, and while the Torrences were becoming acquainted on that first day, they were told the motel was on an ancient Indian burial ground.
The Authorized Version: the motel was a modernized prefabricated-looking piece of crap. The front lawn was small-ish and not very scenic. Also, there is no mention of a burial ground.
There is mention -at great length- of a form of croquet which was developed by the man who built the hotel. Who CARES? It had NOTHING to do with the story and nothing whatSOever to do with the plot. It was best left out, as in the Kubrick Adaptation.
K: The maze was a magnificent touch, reminiscent of the Labyrinth in which the Minotaur of Crete was Guardian. When Jack Nicholson stands at the scaled model of the maze and stares into the center, seeing Wendy and Danny entering, it's a magickal moment; one that tells you right away, there are heavy energies i that house; there's something seriously wrong, already starting.
A: Instead of the magickal maze, we got topiary beasties who wouldn't (couldn't?) move if you were looking at them. This was NOT scary, either. The only feeling of "wrongness" achieved from these scenes, was in the writing of them.
K: The several pan scans of the hotel itself, with the mountains looming behind, the cold air swirling about, mist coming up from the warm roof of the hotel, all adds so MUCH to the atmosphere of the movie.
A: We got very little feel for the actual hotel itself from Garris's version. It appears as though he tried to not show the full hotel. Did they even HAVE an actual building? or just a series of set-built rooms? It felt as though the whole episodic monstrosity was filmed in a row of badly positioned office cubicles.
K: The ghosts of the two butchered daughters of Delbert Grady were icons with which Danny could identify, and at the same time, be afraid of. They were hauntingly beautiful, and showed Danny how they were killed, in a rather graphic and material way.
A: There were no little girls.
K: The visions Danny had concerning the house gave you a feeling for what he was feeling and the things that had happened previously there.
A: Danny's visions weren't enough to scare us. They didn't give us the history of the place. They didn't give us ... anything.
K: Tony was an attendant spirit, like a spirit guide which he acquired as a result of his arm nearly being wrenched off his body by his own father. He was..."the little boy who lives in my mouth."
He would manifest in the end of Danny's finger and physically spoke through Danny in order to speak TO Danny.
A: Tony, Tony, Tony. Wow. To go from being an attendant spirit that Danny could not see, to a rather sloppy form of CGI, imposed over the landscape; from "little boy" to teenaged-almost-man-boy...what a metamorphosis! A disappointing one. While loyal to the book, in that King's Tony was the projection of an older Danny, sent back in a vain attempt to save his father, the idea of Danny going back in time to his younger self wasn't...scary. Instead, it seemed a bulimic attempt to bestow the tale with a haunting new-agey quality. It didn't work.
K: The "Woman in the Shower" scene. It was dramatic, and frightening. Disgusting and scary. This is the pivotal moment when Jack...cracks. When Nicholson looks into the mirror and sees her decomposing flesh beneath his hands; the look of sheer terror on his face was so complete and REAL!
A: The "Woman in the Shower" scene...didn't exist. That, too, was Kubrick's genius at work.
K: When Wendy find's Jack's "screenplay" is nothing more than page after page of the same line typed over and over...when he asks from the shadows, "How do you like it?" and Wendy whirls and screams, the baseball bat in her hands...is so poignant. It's the point where she realizes how messed up the whole situation is...how messed up Jack is. It's very scary, dramatic and delivers a strong presence. That coupled with Danny's visions of the hotel lobby filling with blood, imposed over the scene between Jack and Wendy make that the strongest and most telling scene in Kubrick's version.
A: Webber's Jack Torrence talked about a screenplay, but never wrote a word.
K: The "REDRUM" scene. Wow. What do I say? What mother would not be totally freaked to awaken finding their young, troubled son standing over them with a huge knife, talking in that freaky little voice, saying REDRUM over and over? It was something everyone could and has remembered.
A: The REDRUM scene. What REDRUM scene? There wasn't one. There wasn't even a sorry REPLACEMENT scene for it, and if there was, it was SO sorry that I missed it. Wait! Could it POSSIBLY Have been that lame scene where Danny was attacked by the "dead" wasps? Not possible. No WAY! Talk about creative impairment!
K: Speaking of memorable scenes... Nicholson's final assault on his family with an axe was perhaps one of the scariest scenes of movie history. His ad-libbed line, "Heeeeere's Johnny!" was a stroke of brilliance and is one of the most memorable scenes in the history of horror.
A: Webber's final assault was confused, weak and NOT SCARY!
The weapon Webber uses (a CROQUET MALLET?!?) was NOT scary! I wasn't scared. *l* It IS however a memorable scene. I'll always remember it as the lamest climaxial scene in horror history.
K: The ending.. The ending..? Kubrick's ending was perfection. I felt it ended beautifully. No smarm, no platitudinous whining, no tearfully idiotic ending for THIS movie. Just epitomized perfection.
That's all I'll say on the subject of the ending.
A: The ending was just as lame as the rest of the movie. It doesn't even deserve being commented upon, further, so I won't.
I have two questions, Mr. King. Did you completely fail to notice that the TV version was NOT scary? Do you fail to realize it is the most puerile piece of garbage I've seen on film! "Howard the Duck" was "Casablanca" compared to this movie!
The Kubrick version, while unauthorized, was and IS about the scariest thing ever put on film, in the name of King and yet, because it wasn't YOUR version, you bastardized one of he greatest masterpieces of horror on film to date!! Was it worth disappointing your millions of fans just to uplift your own ego?
Frankly, had I the money to invest, I would back a multi-million-dollar budgeted Dean Koontz film. Perhaps "Dark Rivers of the Heart," "Night Chills," or "Darkfall." But NOT a toned-down weak-ass version of one of the greatest movies ever made. Remakes are supposed to BETTER the attempt, not lessen it.
This movie rates a -0- from the Fiend because it is the most grotesque, atrocious, despicable piece of garbage EVER MADE!! :.
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