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The Shining (DVD, 2010, P&S) Reviews
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The Shining (DVD, 2010, P&S)

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Doesn't Shine Like It Should

Feb 18, 2002 (Updated Feb 18, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Spooky music, superb camera work

Cons:Jack Nicholson's annoying eyebrows, Shelley Duvall, dissapointing conclusion

The Bottom Line: Contains some brilliant moments, and I'll recommend it because of those, yet as an adaptation of a superb novel, it falls flat.


My wife, the lovely Constant Leigh Kidden, is making me sleep on the couch tonight. It seems I couldn't stop following her around the apartment wiggling my finger and talking in a guttural voice a la Danny Lloyd's rendition of Danny Torrance's spooky sidekick "Tony" in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's classic tale "The Shining." It seems I'm too much of a goof for my own good, but I'm just trying to make up for her teasing me about putting the popcorn in the microwave oven upside down as we settled in to watch this movie. But, that's neither here nor there, so, as my wife has very kindly reminded me, I will now "quit babbling and get to the actual review, Hugh".

Shining should be set into a category that should be titled "Movies Based On Stephen King Books, Yet Not Quite Getting It Right."

Based on the superbly eerie Stephen King novel of nearly the same name, the movie focuses upon Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson, complete with annoying eyebrow acrobatics), a schoolteacher who decides to take a job as the winter caretaker of The Overlook, a highly posh Colorado resort that operates only in warm weather because the snowy roads make access in the winter impossible.

Jack brings his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son, Danny,(Danny Lloyd)who brings with him a particular spooky sidekick, a kid named Tony who lives in his mouth, or perhaps his index finger, or something like that. More about Tony later...I have a particular quibble there. As the Torrances settle in for the long, frigid winter, spooky and sinister things start occurring in the hotel, and as tension builds, Jack steadily loses his rapidly eroding sanity.

A sideplot not fully enough developed deals with Danny, who apparently has "the shining", the ability to communicate with his mind and see the supernatural events around him. Danny is befriended by Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers) a friendly cook who has the same gift.

The Overlook hotel is apparently filled with an overpowering evil force... and it's hungry to make victims out of Jack, Wendy and Danny. Jack falls easy prey to the forces within, eventually becoming a murderous pawn of the Powers That Be.

Enough of the guts...now for why such a setup did not work as well as it could've: First, however, I'll treat the parts that did work.

The musical score was excellent... the eerie melodies and sudden crescendos and climaxes were pure artistry, and highly responsible for a great deal of the film's suspense.
The camera work was superb.... there are beautiful shots of the hotel nestled in the mountains, chilling jump cuts and extreme angles during much of the supernatural phenomena, and very nice use of closeups and far shots.... great stuff.
These alone carried most of the thrill of the movie...the plot and the actors fell somewhat short.

My biggest quibble is with Danny and "Tony", particularly the "redrum" sequences. In the excellent book, these scenes, depicting Tony as a far away, eerie and shadowy character just barely viewed and only faintly heard go from the sublime in the book to the ridiculous in the movie as Tony is depicted as a guttural voice of Danny's and a wiggling index finger. I got a great deal of personal entertainment out of that, until my wife said enough was enough and banished me to the couch. The chilling "redrum" theme is merely an annoying reference in the movie, totally losing its significance.

The ending of the movie seems very rushed, and while eerie in its own right, is highly dissapointing. Obviously Kubrick is setting up for a sequel, yet it lost the punch that the book delivered so well. Crothers' Dick Halloran is disposed of all too quickly, and the final end left me saying "Hey, wait a minute... that's IT? What a letdown."

Jack Nicholson plays maniacal evil very well...or rather, he would if he could just get those annoying eyebrows under control. They were just too distracting. I wanted to take a flyswatter to his face.

Shelley Duvall does an adequate job of portraying hysterical with fear, yet has problems emoting anything other than that.

Danny Lloyd at least looks like I always envisioned his character would look, but other than that, his performance is awkward and in many areas, such as the Tony sequences, laughable.

Special effects were good for the time period, and the ending came just too quickly...there was much more that could've been made of so many areas.

In summation, Shining is standard, average horror fare. It has some brilliant moments, and I recommend it on the strength of those...the eerie sequences are indeed eerie and haunting, and stick with you afterwards. Yet as an adaptation of a superb novel, it doesn't shine like it could.

Yours until "The Munsters" make a comeback worldwide,
- Hugh U. Kidden

Viewing Format: Cable Television


Recommend this product? Yes

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