I Don’t Think You Will Sleep Through This One

Doctor Sleep: The IMAX 2D Experience Poster

 

Stephen King is on a role this year with two stories turned to movies, among other products, and potentially raking in even more cash. The age of taking author’s works and putting visual spins on them continues to thrive and sometimes we get an interpretation that brings our nightmares/expectations to life.   On the other hand, the limitations of movies can sometimes lead to bad projects that are disappointing more than anything.  What will happen in this interpretation?  Well I’m here to share my opinions to help you get the most out of your movie going experience.  Let’s get started as I review:

 

Movie: Doctor Sleep

 

Director:

Mike Flanagan

Writers:

Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan

Stars:

Ewan McGregorRebecca FergusonKyliegh Curran

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Feels Like A Visual Form Of Book
  • Nice Haunting Atmosphere
  • Pacing For The Most Part is Good
  • Great Antagonists
  • Fantastic References To original/With modern twists
  • Story Telling As a Whole

 

DISLIKES

  • The Run Time
  • Expecting More Integration of Shining’s connections
  • Not Scary
  • Graphic Violence That is Haunting But Disturbing

 

SUMMARY

 

When the revealed the cast of this film I was interested in seeing how they would adapt into King’s Universe.  The result is positive for me with the three main characters really taking a shine to the multi-layered characters each contributing to the terror in some way.  McGregor takes much of the lifting in his evolution of tortured spirit, keeping that quiet intensity famous of his younger counterpart, but somehow pulling out other tricks when the time is right to give a psychiatrically tortured counterpart.  As for the antagonist, Rebecca Ferguson is wonderful counterpart to McGregor, keeping that same creepy tone, but this time bringing a savage/psychotic edge that fits well in the horror genre, think villains from Walking Dead before it went too far.  As for the talents of Curran, well she was the perfect balance that sort of inherited both sides of the Shining coin, executing her vulnerable side well, but also managing to bring girl power to an even medium.

Acting aside, the rest of the movie thrives in the element of bring King’s imagination to life.  To be honest it does feel like a visualization of the book, the intricate details, outlines story, and connecting points a wonderful example of the art of literature translation.  King’s words always paint a picture of sheer horror, immersing one into a nightmare realm that goes into the darkest corners of the minds and dreams.  Doctor Sleep’s haunting chills line just about every minute of this film, bringing with it characters that fit into it, primarily the antagonists that Danny faces.  Such fitting characters and truly nightmarish villains make a wonderful centerpiece to get hooked onto.  Yet, the movie does not just focus on making the characters the star, instead finding way to integrate the Shining into the film while sticking to the originality of the tale.  Seeing various nods back to the original tale, though with modern face lifts, and having them there to support the tale, again getting an applause from me. With such details, you might think the pacing will suffer, but Flanagan accomplished the task of keeping all these details and plot dynamics balanced, but not sacrificing the entertainment value that movies are expected.  In conclusion to this like section, the story telling is told well at an engaging pace that makes for one of the better horror movies and book translations in a long while.

 

Yet for me, it’s rare to see a perfect movie that I love everything about and this was true for Doctor Sleep as well.  For one thing the run time is a little long for a later night showing, I know my fault, but despite how well the balance of this tale is, there was some pacing that made the 2.5 hours a little too long for me.  Perhaps it was from working a 15-hour day, or maybe it’s due to wanting a little more of the Shining’s plot components brought in, given how long the opening was about the time lapse between the two stories I might have wanted a little more integration into the mix to help fully get my horror element on. In addition, the movie did not do the most in the scare factor for me, going more down the  drama/thriller category than the actual horror element.  I’m not saying others will not get scared, but it all depends on what you like to jump at creeps vs jump scares.  For me though, the aspect I know was needed, but I did not like is the torturing and graphic violence components.  I can say I like action movies and over the top stunts, but in this movie the violence is all about inducing the disturbing, skin crawling factors that these books are famous for.  Weak constitutions to graphic displays of fear inducing dismantling need to rethink diving into this, for there are several scenes where this factor comes into full swing with little mercy.

 

  The VERDICT

            I have to agree with my friends who saw the film, Doctor Sleep is one of the better novel interpretations that I have seen in quite a while.  My favorite aspects of this film are how much like a book it plays out, yet never sacrifices the entertainment factors and visualization components that films need.  A haunting atmosphere to play in, with great characters to bring out the solid story, I feel many King and horror films will be impressed with the presentation of this tale.  While the run time is a little longer than expected, and the scares are at a minimum compared to the first film I watched a long time ago, the true component to warn people about is the graphic violence/torture that may haunt your memories for some time.  It’s true I would have liked a little more of the Shining aspect, but overall a solid story telling from King and company again.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  Absolutely, as it has theater quality effects and good storytelling for most audience members to enjoy.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Fantasy/Horror:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

Beast

It’s finally here, the live action telling of a beloved story that Disney made memorable years ago.  Yes, I’m talking about Beauty and The Beast my friends, and tonight I’m here to share my thoughts.  Now let’s get this laid down now, I’m going to look at it as its own movie and do my best to minimize the masterpiece.  So please don’t cast aside the review if I tread on any ground.  With that said, let’s get started to see if the modern retelling has what it takes to stand out in the world.

 

LIKES:

  • Follows the Classic Plot Well
  • The Setting is beautiful
  • Costume
  • Animation (for the most part)
  • Casting is well-done
  • Cogsworth and Lumiere

 

Summary:  You may hear others say the movie is spot on with the 1991 telling.  Not entirely true, but this rendition keeps about 80% of the Tale as Old as Time to please the classic fans, while adding some tangents to give it a twist.  To quote a friend, “the new spins are built around the fans from the 90s generation to entertain”. It works for the most part, adding depth to the characters and giving the emotional kick older audience members will appreciate.  And while sticking to the story is good start, the next magical step is how well they brought it to life in the visuals.  Beauty and The Beasts charming country side and castles, are brought out in spectacular detail via breathtaking scenery shots and detail oriented settings that are worthy of recognition.  Next dress our characters in wonderful costumes fitting of the landscape, with special emphasis on the traditional Belle Dress and Beast coat that remains timeless, and you again get more magic.  Finally add in the animation, realistic, fluid, and somewhat mirroring the classic style most fell in love with, and you have a great combination. Of note, there are times when things get trippy, or not done quite as well, but overall solid around.  All in all, Disney’s abilities to blend these elements together are impressive, and this reviewer gives them their well-deserved props.

 

In terms of casting, there is a mixed response to the cast assembled.  Again, they are not the originals (which I did miss), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad just the sameEmma Watson is charming, smart, and courageous (all elements we have seen just without the wand), which works for the protagonist.  Dan Stevens I guess does well for the few scenes he isn’t covered in CGI fir, but in his monstrous form delivers his lines with surprising depth. But it is Lumiere and Cogsworth who stole the show for me.  I worried, I’d be robbed of their relationship, but that wasn’t the case.  Ewen McGreggor and Ian McKellan stepped up the role, delivering their well-written lines that had me laughing in delight.  The rest did well, but I need to move on, so let’s just say for the most part, this movie’s casting was well-done.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Music
  • Le Fou’s Changes (at times)
  • Times Forced Acting
  • Coincidental Moments
  • Missing Charm of 1991

 

Summary:  The music, a staple of Beauty and The Beast that is almost as timeless as the story.  This rendition has put their own spin on it, while trying to keep the backbone of the original.  Most numbers work, albeit obviously auto-tuned and missing some of the magic, with their own whim, but the song Gaston was a number I did not enjoy for everything it lacked.  Ironically the original tunes I found to be better composed, packed with emotion and not seeming a diluted version, but its weakness came in how they seemed randomly thrown in (yes in an effort to add more emotional develop to the cast).  Overall the changes aren’t absolutely awful, they just didn’t have the same bite as the classics did, unless you count shock factor from either some cheesiness/trippiness).

 

Other changes that I didn’t quite like were Le Fou’s changes.  Le Fou is supposed to be his name sake, the fool who is comedic relief as the joke, before getting his just desserts. Josh Gadd’s rendition wasn’t so much a fool, as a smart alec, clingy, admirer who made slick comments and kept his idol at bayAgain, the deeper development is appreciated, but this drastic change kind of meant his name should have been changed as well, perhaps to Petit Malin?

 

Changes aside, the acting is capable of bringing the characters to life, but there are moments where things are a little forced.  Some of the Beasts Temper tantrums, a few of Belle’s stoic speeches, and Gaston’s attempts to be devious, all of these hit their overacted moments at times. Maurice in particular had the worst delivery of them all, the eccentrics lost to just bad delivery and over exaggeration.  And while this made me laugh, there were a few conventional moments that were a bit cheesy (as stated by some in the movie).  Most of these coincidental moments are ignorable, but one scene in particular was an anticlimactic finish at the end where something just happened to break at the right time.

 

All of these moments alone aren’t too bad, but many of the changes brought into this film brought it more into the adult/realistic and took away from the fun, whimsical nature of the movie. The design of the characters, the emotional subplots, even the music were lacking that element of childlike fun that made the movie so memorable for me.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t still entertaining, I just really missed that element.

 

The VERDICT:

 

With the big shoes the original left, this telling did a decent job appealing to many.  It is a well-developed remake of the story, with a wonderful cast and setting to bring it to life and capture your heart.  While the music didn’t quite reach the same heights, and some changes took away the energy, this film certainly has much of the magic that rose promised years ago. Go in there with a clear mind and try not to compare, and you’ll be fine. I recommend this for a theater visit (as if I could stop you) and hope you enjoy. 

 

My scores are:

Family/Fantasy/Musical: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0