Review of The Stand (1994)

12 Dec

The Stand (1994) is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy/drama TV mini series, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, consisting of 4 90-minute episodes.

Directed by Mick Garris (Critters 2 (1988), Riding The Bullet (2004)), best known for his adaptations of Stephen King’s works.

Written by Stephen King (Sleepwalkers (1992), Pet Sematary (1989)), that’s right, King wrote the teleplay himself.

Starring: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Ruby Dee, Rob Lowe, Miguel Ferrer, Corin Nemec, Matt Fewer, Ossie Davis and others.

I must say that I am a big fan of Stephen King, even though his writing style isn’t always perfect, I seem to mostly enjoy it. He’s a huge part of horror fiction and the huge amount of screen adaptations is a testament to his talent. Most of it is total rubbish, but some of it successfully captures the greatness of King’s work. I can gladly say that in this case it’s the latter one.

I haven’t seen all of the adaptations, because that’s almost impossible, but I’ve seen quite a few and this just might be my favourite. But keep in mind, that it is my favourite translation of his work to the screen and not the best movie based on his novels. I’ve read the novel and I loved it and the mini series is more faithful to the source material than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it takes some significant liberties, but overall it’s forgivable.

Mini series is what everyone would like adaptations to be, because you can’t do 500 pages justice in 90-minutes. I mean, hell yeah, I wanted The Stand to be 6 hours long, I noticed the time I had spent watching it, but it felt like a standard 2-hour film.

I think I’ve mentioned before that there’s something I love about post-apocalyptic fiction, so I loved the premise. For those who don’t know, it’s about a superflu destroying like 99% of the world’s population and how the survivors gather together through some supernatural (it’s King after all) ways.

This is going to be a longer review, so I better move on.

Gary Sinise is the perfect casting for Stu, yet I would have never thought the role would suit him so much.

I pretty much hated the changes made to Harold’s character, instead of this disgusting slob, he was just a nerdy guy, who’s obviously good-looking, which is hidden by glasses and some bad make-up pimples.

Larry’s story arc was all screwed up, but Adam Storke is good in this role, because what he lacks in acting skills, he makes up for with his rock star presence.

Jamey Sheridan is a very odd choice to play the main villain. He’s ridiculously early 90’s redneck looking. He has this ugly jean suit and either the most stupid or bad-ass looking mullet I’ve ever seen. Also there’s some demon make-up scenes that were totally unnecessary and those also featured some CG transformations, which were… well 90’s CGI, ’nuff said.

Rob Lowe isn’t what I would imagine to play Nick, but he does a good job.

Bill Fagerbakke handles the role of Tom pretty well. Sometimes when actors play mentally handicapped characters it comes across a bit too forced, but he more or less captured the feel of the character in the novel.

I guess 90’s was a time when Molly Ringwald was considered attractive? Ok, she’s not that awful, Fran wasn’t the best character in the novel too, but I can’t say anything good about her performance either.

Another perfect casting choice was Miguel Ferrer as Lloyd. He’s just so great, bringing the subtlety the script had left out, but the book had.

They decided to blend two female characters into one, portrayed by the very unattractive Laura San Giacomo.

Stephen King himself appears a couple of times, even has some lines, some people find things like that distracting, but I liked that.

And one that is less a weird casting and more just an odd performance is by Shawnee Smith (Amanda from the Saw series), who gives an absurdly ridiculous, over-the-top, spoiled, bitchy teenage slut character performance. I wasn’t sure if I was entertained by it or hated it. She must have been overacting so much on purpose.

Casting is overall very good, except maybe for Harold and maybe some others, but, with a cast this huge, that’s forgivable.

If they remade it as it was planned, a trilogy of theatrical films, it might benefit by not being so toned down, but I don’t see it being much better than this,

Some of the minor changes are really pointless and I don’t really understand.

I loved this “movie”. Although, the first episode was the best one and then it went downwards, I enjoyed it throughout. But I can’t really recommend it to anyone. I enjoyed it mostly, because I was already invested in the characters, but for someone who hasn’t read the novel it might seem too draggy and silly. So I recommend this mostly to the fans of the novel.

"What do you mean "MacGyver isn't on TV anymore"? Eh, I guess, I'll have to go and listen to some Michael Bolton records."

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