The Shining TV mini series review
When I reviewed the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining, I gushed on and on about the atmosphere, performances and sets and saved my harsher criticism for the story points. I thought that with a teleplay by and executive producer credit for Stephen King, my story concerns would be alleviated… So as not to bury the lead, let me say right now that ALL SUCH HOPE IS MISBEGOTTEN. Sure, this version makes a little more sense, but it still provides more questions than answers. Spoilers after the jump!
Because this just had to be a mini series event and not just a TV movie, the running time is an ungodly four and a half hours, and it’s not composed of suspense, mystery or compelling story telling, but rather, a moment of something actually happening followed by five to fifteen minutes of people talking about what just happened. They talk and they talk and they talk; and it’s the most unbelievable dialogue, followed by the most ridiculous decisions you’ll ever see any fictional character make. Take, for example, the shockingly idiotic “Go build a snow fort, Danny! I’ll be up here, washing windows – the farthest away I could possibly be from you with us both still on the hotel property. God knows where your insane father is… Now that the radio and snow mobile are both smashed, maybe he’s poisoning the water! That’s gonna make bath time tricky!” Oh right, bath time – you remember the bath scene from the Kubrick version – well, they did a pretty good job with it in this version, but this time, Jack runs from the lady faster than Danny did.
This version’s general plot is a bit easier to understand than the Kubrick version, but I still don’t get why Jack goes crazy. He’s at least conscious of his madness, but it just starts happening, for, in my view, no reason at all. Jack isn’t a very sympathetic character to begin with (because… you know… got drunk, broke his kid’s arm), so his decent isn’t very tragic for me as an audience member. I don’t really care why he goes nuts, and, when you couple it with the fact that the previous caretaker also went bonkers, you just expect Jack to, so the why doesn’t really matter, but it just seems so random… I dunno. He seemed like he was already nuts before the confrontation with his imaginary abusive Dad (very similar to the one Bronson Pinchot has in The Langoliers),
so that couldn’t have been it… I didn’t get it in the Kubrick version, and I’m not getting it now. It should be noted that in this version, Jack gets to redeem himself, which is apparently a new story element added by King (it does not appear in the novel), and it’s… weird. I guess the conflict between Jack and the ghosts makes for a more exciting conclusion, but I just wasn’t buying it. I guess I can’t accept the idea that ghosts have a strong self-preservation instinct.
Unlike the Kubrick film, this TV mini series version of The Shining makes a HUGE mistake by breaking up the isolation at the hotel with trips to the grocery store and the doctor. I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world and makes the snow storms more ominous, but letting the outside world intrude on these parts of the story took me out of the show for a while and then I had to settle back in.
I’m just gonna come right out and say it: Tony is Danny.
From the future.
It’s the worst idea ever. Who’d take all that trouble to travel through time and then be that intentionally vague with their past self in a life or death situation? What the – just… blah!
The biggest problem this movie has is that it shows us far too little and tells us way too much. It’s a basic rule of story telling – don’t tell us the hotel is getting stronger, show us! And by “show,” I don’t mean through confetti on Rebecca De Mornay! There was a perfect opportunity for the elevator to attack her, but I’m guessing that was a stunt no one was willing to pay for.
The only thing that’s done better here than in the Kubrick version is that the bad guy’s motivation is sorta clear. In this version, it seems clear that the hotel ghosts are the bad guys and are using Danny’s shining power as some sort of conduit to increase their power and, if Danny dies at the hotel, they’ll become… more powerful and be able to manipulate the physical world… more so than they can with just Danny alive and in the building? Anyway, you can draw this conclusion from what’s presented in the mini series, where as in the Kubrick version, it’s just… I dunno, some spooky place that scares the shit out of Danny and makes Jack nuts.
I dunno about this one. It’s not boring, but it’s super long, not much happens (and what does happen is redundant – the hotel is constantly closing doors, opening doors, turning on lights, lighting fireplaces… and no one is around to witness this about 90% of the time; it’s just for the audience) and the pretentious dialogue stretches out into eternity. Still, t’s not bad, but it’s certainly not good, let’s put it that way. I’m giving this TV mini series version of The Shining a 5 out of 10, mostly because I thought the actors overcame the screenplay problems and because Rebecca De Mornay gives me the vapors.