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Blu-Ray : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: March 12th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1997

Stephen King's The Shining (1997)

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Bryan Kluger
Has any author or director been able to make their version of their story because they hated the original adaptation? Well, that's what happened when Stephen King famously hated Kubrick's version of The Shining, thus inpiring King to make his made-for-TV version in 1997 directed by long-time collaborator Mick Garris. Scream Factory brings the miniseries to Blu-ray with a new 2K scan and 2.0 audio track with vintage extras. Recommended!

 

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Length:
273
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.33:1
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English
Release Date:
March 12th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

It takes a ton of respect and guts in the entertainment industry to get your way and vision on film. Few can do it. One of those people is one of the best-selling authors of all time Stephen King. It's a funny story too, one that still stings the prolific horror writer to this day about his best-selling novel The Shining. King didn't like the 1980 film adaptation and complained about it so much that the ABC network ultimately gave him free rein to remake his book his way as a televised three-day event in 1997. The results were mixed amongst critics and fans at the time but it allowed the original creator of these iconic characters the space to deliver what the original intent of the novel was - for better or worse.

In 1977, Stephen King released his book The Shining to rave reviews. It was noted then and still is today to be his most personal story about his struggle with alcoholism and substance abuse, just like the lead character Jack Torrance in the book exudes. Once the book came out, the greatest film director who ever lived, Stanley Kubrick, saw something in that book and wanted to make his vision. That film came out in 1980 to rave reviews and multiple award nominations. But one person despised the film, and that was Stephen King. He still famously hates it to this day because Kubrick's horrifying and non-redeeming character elements pissed off King so much that 17 years later, the author himself got to remake his own story. Now that's comedy.

A lot of fans, critics, and filmmakers have tunnel vision when it comes to adapting other's work. Some want to see the exact words from the pages to the screen, while others take a more liberal approach and adapt their vision to make it all work better on the big screen. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. King assembled one fantastic cast and crew to helm his TV miniseries of The Shining with himself writing the screenplay and serving as a hands-on producer of the production. And while the TV miniseries event is quite good in many areas, the all-too-literal translation of King's words to this film is at times laughable and other times downright bad. Additionally, the mid to late '90s weren't exactly known for top-notch visual effects, especially from a TV network, which also hurt this production and its lasting value.

Some things just don't translate from a book to a movie and it's up to the filmmaker to adapt something newer or better and take that swing to entertain audiences. Stanley Kubrick saw something in this story and its characters to change it to straight horror with no redeeming quality for its characters. And that's the biggest beef King has with Kubrick's film. Jack Nicholson's performance as Jack Torrance was inherently crazy and bad from the get-go and never truly struggled to be a better husband to his wife Wendy or father to his son Danny. This is something the source material explored where Jack Torrance had some issues and was ultimately a great father and husband. But in this TV miniseries, these elements are so cheesily executed for TV that it's difficult to stay in tune with the horror of it all competing with the nostalgia of the original film.

But its cast and crew bring this novel to life and keep it glued together from their work inside and outside of the story. Steven Webber is an amazing, yet different Jack Torrance from Kubrick's vision. At any point in time, Nicholson's performance is so unhinged, that the audience never knows if he's going to strike his prey. But with Weber, he's the nicest guy in the world full of love and cares for his family, until he isn't. Rebecca De Mornay as Wendy and Courtland Mead who played Danny are both exquisite. Adding Melvin Van Peebles as O'Halloran was the smart move and having Elliot Gould as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel during normal business hours was excellent. Their performances bring it home as much as any network TV movie can of this magnitude. And having amazing veteran horror movie maestros like Mick Garris come aboard just shows how much everyone respects King. But ultimately Stephen King's The Shining just doesn't stick the landing with its tone and far too literal adaptation of the source, whereas Kubrick brought something more interesting and horrifying in his adaptation, which everyone still loves and remembers - besides King himself.

 

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Stephen King's
The Shining miniseries shines its way to Blu-ray via Scream Factory. The two discs of the episodes are housed inside a hard, blue plastic case. There is no cardboard sleeve. There is also no digital code insert. The artwork features a dull amber image of Jack's face with his son Danny looking down a hallway. It's not very good. The reverse artwork is of the RedRum word.

Video Review

Ranking:

Stephen King's The Shining miniseries comes with a 1080p HD transfer and has been given some tender loving care from the folks over at Scream Factory. This release has a new 2K transfer and is presented in its original old-school television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 which brings a sense of simpler times while watching.

This color palette is rich and bold and has a more delicious look than the original film which was very dreary and decayed with older colors. These colors are more spring-like with airy notes of whites, greens, yellows, blues, and a bit of red. The interiors of the Overlook are brighter while the exteriors of the gardens and plant life look more dazzling this time around. Black levels are inky and the skin tones are natural.

The detail is the strongest uptick on this new 2K transfer. For a made-for-TV film that was released more than twenty-five years ago, the detail is striking. Closeups reveal amazing practical makeup effects, individual hairs and stubble, ghostly images, visual effects, and extreme nuances in the sets and props for the hotel. The one thing this new transfer doesn't help are those cheesy effects of the plants that attack the family, which is still laughable. But again, that might be source material where nothing could be able to help that one sequence. This is a great-looking new video presentation that does not have any big problems to speak of. 4.5/5

Audio Review

Ranking:

This release comes with a DTS-HD 2.0 stereo audio mix which sounds good enough, but this film yearns for a 5.1 option that could drive home all of the horror and atmosphere. Still, the 2.0 stereo option provides for some bigger-than-expected sound effects from the hotel, supernatural elements, and some of the bigger action scenes outside. Quieter moments allow for the softer side of dialogue and eerie noises to come through nicely. The score always adds to the suspense and cheesier sequences. And the dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow. This track just needs a heftier dose of surround noise and a low end of the bass. 3.5.5

Special Features

Ranking:

Scream Factory doesn't offer any new bonus materials here. It's just 17 minutes of deleted scenes and the old commentary track which is still a blast to listen to.

  • Audio Commentary - This is an older commentary track from the 2003 DVD release and features Stephen King, director Mick Garris, actor Steven Weber, actress Cynthia Garris, visual effects supervisor Boyd Shermis, makeup supervisor Bill Curso, and cinematographer Shelly Johnson. It's a lot of people but their discussion is a ton of fun. The topics include how the origin and story were ultimately conjured up in King's mind, his relationship with the characters, and his personal demons. Everyone else talks about the production of the film, the differences between Kubrick's version and this one, and getting everything right from the book.
  • Additional Scenes (HD, 17 Mins.) - Eleven scenes were left out of the broadcast that are included here that don't further any of the story. They can be viewed with or without audio commentary.

Final Thoughts

Stephen King's The Shining miniseries is one of the better made-for-tv films, especially from King himself. It just doesn't hold up that well with its literal adaptation and laughable visual effects. Plus, it's hard to forget Kubrick's version while watching where most will wish to see Nicholson own the screen again. For dedicated fans of this version, the new video transfer looks great and the DTS-HD 2.0 stereo audio mix sounds very good. The extras aren't much, but the audio commentary is well worth listening to again. Recommended!

Order Your Copy of The Shining TV Series on Blu-ray