By now it is no secret that Stephen King has never cared much for Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his third novel The Shining so in 1997 he decided to produce his own version, King hired Mick Garris to direct the series and filming was shot at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, the Stanley was the real world hotel King stayed at which inspired his original story.
The story here very much remains the same with recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance becoming caretaker for the Overlook Hotel during the off season and gradually being convinced by the Hotels ghosts to murder his family
Casting here was pretty decent with Wings star Steven Weber taking on the Role of Jack Torrance and Rebecca De Mornay playing wife Wendy.
Both of these guys are great and share a really nice on screen chemistry, Weber brings so much more to Jacks character than we got to see with Nicholsons approach, I think this is because in this version Jack manages to gain a lot more sympathy from the audience as we can see a genuinely nice guy and loving father who is conflicted between the love of his family and the Hotel.
Rebecca De Mornay brings so much more to the character of Wendy Torrance, here we get a strong female lead with guts and backbone, her portrayal is not only mothering but a powerful protector and somebody who wont let anyone get in the way of her family.
Danny Torrance is this time played by Courtland Mead and he is awful, I’m sorry I don’t normally go in on child actors but this kid is so annoying and his portrayal come across a bit forced, it probably didn’t help that King hired a 9 year old boy to play a five year old so Mead had to dumb down his speech and behaviours to try and match those of the correct age.
Another odd choice was the casting of Tony, Dannys imaginary friend here he is played by Wil Horneff who is fine enough but my god the dress sense its so 90’s it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the series and makes him come across a little bit silly, “Clarissa explains it all” eat your heartout!
The late Melvin Van Peebles plays Dick Halloran and he is a gemstone in this, I love him so much he plays a much more prominent role in this compared to Scatman Crothers in Kubrick’s version. Van Peebles Halloran so much character and becomes a grandfatherly figure to Danny, the two communicate via the shining much more frequently in this as well helping us an audience to realise his greater importance in all of this.
While the casting was almost spot on basically everything else was hit or miss, the general effects were pretty bad from a CGI standpoint which can be seen during the scene where Danny is almost attacked by the hedge animals, makeup and physical effects on the other hand were excellent with realistic blood splatter and genuinely scary makeup, my favourite was the dead lady in the bath, I actually prefer this look to the lady in Kubrick’s adaptation.
Line delivery was genuinely so cringe as can be seen in the video above, mostly from Jacks end with wonderful lines like “Up to room 217, where do think I’m going out for a pizza” and “Congratulations, Dick you’re a Publisher’s Clearing House winner and here’s your prize”
At this point I haven’t even read the book but I know this is more accurate especially with King producing the series and I want to point this out because Kubrick made changes to the original story for a very good reason which I feel is made clear after watching this adaptation.
Words cannot always adapt well to screen !! What may be considered scary in a book will not always come across as scary in a cinema, Kubrick thought this about the animal shaped hedges so instead he used a hedge maze for his finale, we feel Danny is in danger here he is lost trapped in a labyrinth with his possessed father who wants to kill him, Topiary isn’t scary but the thought of being lost and trapped most definitely is.
Jacks death was changed in Kubrick’s too having him freeze to death trapped in the Maze, in the 1997 mini series Jack dies when he blows up the Hotel a satisfying finale but I preferred Kubrick’s because it gave the audience the sense that Jacks soul was taken by the Overlook and it was still open awaiting new victims.
It does get rebuilt at the end of the 1997 version but it just doesn’t carry the same energy as Kubricks adaptation.
The biggest sin of all with this version is just how generally boring it is, we see a lot of character development but its done through far too much dialogue, the majority of this four hour and 30 minute production is talking with any action and scares being few and far between, I feel like King was trying to build up the suspense like he excellently does in his books but again for a TV production playing it out like a novel just doesn’t work and by making this King did nothing but make himself look a bit foolish, he is entitled to opinions on Kubricks version but he would have been better off leaving that be the only adaptation he was never going to beat it and at the end of the day the film still would have drove book sales so the original story would have been read by millions no matter what!
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