my thoughts on ‘stranger things’

i just finished watching stranger things and want to praise some things and bitch about some others. so spoiler alert, i’m going to spill the beans on the whole damn thing here.

stranger-things-poster-netflix1

i’ve never seen this poster. i like it. yet another nod to 80’s classics.

here’s what i like about it.

  • i like the extremely cohesive 80’s aesthetic, from the analog synth soundtrack to the furniture to the tupperware.
  • i like the spooky, supernatural thriller/horror vibe, and i like it even more when it’s done well.
  • i like the overt homage to the creator’s inspirations, like the movie posters for evil dead, the thing, and jaws.
  • i think some of the acting was great, most notably for dustin (the toothless kid), joyce (will’s mom), and sheriff jim hopper.
  • i like how quickly it moved, the pace of the story.
  • i like the blend of humour with horror, it helped prevent it from taking itself too seriously.

overall, i’d give it 7.5 or 8 out of 10 — a solid B.

however, i don’t think it’s deserving of the over-the-top approval it’s getting from most other people, and here’s why.

  • a lot of the acting is weak — eleven, mike (he’s good most of the time but whenever he’s supposed to be serious or angry he is thoroughly unbelievable, stiff and forced), lucas, dr. brenner.
  • some characters were disposable and unnecessary to the story (the bully kids, will and jonathan’s estranged father lonnie, nancy’s quasi-boyfriend steve).
  • there were a few things that were distinctly out of place in the otherwise cohesive aesthetic, most notably some very modern dialogue — “douchebag” was not a common insult in the 80’s, and absolutely nobody in the 80’s ever said “just sayin.” i think those things were either overlooked when written into the script, or they were consciously done in order to connect with an audience who may not have grown up in the 80’s. either way, they stood out to me and they sucked.
  • i really hated the typical story arcs, like when mike is mean to eleven for what he thinks was misleading him, she runs away, he regrets it and racked with guilt until he finds her and apologizes, and then they’re closer than ever. god, that’s so fucking typical. that same arc is used in every fucking romantic comedy ever made. it’s boring, typical, ‘paint by numbers’ horseshit and it’s insulting to every viewers intelligence. it even occurs TWICE in stranger things, the second time being when jonathan and nancy have begun growing close while searching for the monster, but then they both say some stupid, heated, overly mean things to each other, separate angrily, she gets lost in ‘the upside down,’ he rescues her, and guess what! everything is great after that! hooray!! christ, why do writers insist on doing that same old tired shit, time and time again? i’d like to meet the people who put that in this show and ask them wtf they were thinking.
  • i don’t even need to mention it because i know everyone on the internet has already pointed it out, but it must be said — what about barb?

i see that they are working on a second season, and i find that concerning. i was hoping this was a standalone, 8-episode miniseries, or that each season would be a different story, unrelated to the other seasons and stories. if they continue on with these same kids getting involved with some other unrelated spooky shit, i have some serious concerns. any time good shows become franchises, i worry that the drive to create more episodes and reap more profits will outweigh the creator’s drive to make something worthwhile. popularity is a curse to good art. but then again, it appears they left the story open to continue on with the same kids fighting the same evil — maybe eleven is still alive in ‘the upside down,’ maybe will gave birth to another monster when he coughed that slug up into the sink…maybe he’s got a few more in him yet. i don’t know but i guess if they go that route, it might be ok.

anyway, that’s where i’m at with stranger things. i liked it. i’ll check out the next season and hope that it hasn’t gone to shit overnight.

Advertisements

stephen king fucked up: the 1997 remake of the shining is a piece of shit and everyone who says otherwise is a delusional idiot

dana and i just finished watching stephen king’s 1997 remake of the shining. i say with absolutely no irony or exaggeration that it was a foul fucking piece of shit in every way possible.

what were we thinking? we were curious, mainly. we knew it would probably be pretty bad, like most film adaptations of king’s books, but we wanted to see exactly what king had envisioned, what he wanted to do differently from kubrick and his classic 1980 version film, what king thought he could do better.

nothing was better. everything was worse. it was so laughably cheap and terrible, from the start to the finish…4 and 1/2 hours later. yep, king’s piece of crap is an epic piece of crap.

here’s what was so fucking awful i had to blog about it.

280full

that mouth. yuck.

  • all the actors sucked. the guy from wings, the kid with the gross and horribly distracting weirdly-shaped mouth, the black guy, the hotel ghosts…all d-grade performances. rebecca de mornay was the only decent one.
  • weird, super bright colours. everything in the film had this strange look, like it was fake, because all the colours were so bright. sort of like when you could turn the contrast up so far on old tv’s that the colours would start to bleed into each other and distort. they were almost that bright, and it looked stupid.
  • CHEAP special effects. the CGI was god awful but what was even worse was the non-CGI stuff, like when jack is being stalked by the hedge animals. it just goes back and forth between shots of jack panicking and still-shots of hedge animals with some bear and lion growls added in. no joke. my pal rid saw this on tv when he was like 10 and said he thought it was stupid even back then.
a

yikes. the scariest things here are the production values.

  • the evil ghosts are inept. at the end of the movie, both jack AND the ghosts have forgotten to release the pressure on the boiler. give me a break. oh no, that means the ghost’s precious home is about to be blown up! so the ghosts get upset and start squabbling and try to open the pressure relief valve themselves, but they can’t! because they’re ghosts and their hands go right through the valve handle!! what a fucking joke. bumbling ghosts aren’t scary.
  • a croquet mallet instead of an axe? jack’s weapon of choice throughout the movie is a croquet mallet, not an axe like in the kubrick film. i haven’t read the book (i tried years ago but quit because it came off like it was written for 12-yr old kids) but the croquet mallet is certainly a lot less menacing. it’s even comical, stupid-looking.
  • “pup.” again, i don’t know if this was in the book or if it was changed for the sake of making a PG tv miniseries but it doesn’t really matter because no matter what, when the wings guy is supposed to be really fired up and angry at his son and shouts half-heartedly that he’s a “young pup,” it just sounds stupid. maybe a real actor could pull off a convincing delivery of that line but this guy didn’t.
  • shitty ‘scary’ lighting. everything that is supposed to be scary in this piece of crap automatically gets a green light bulb placed over it. it reminds me of shitty haunted houses where they make you put your hand in bowls of spaghetti noodles and peeled grapes and say, “these are brains, and these are eyeballs.” fuck off. only 5-yr olds might think green lights are creepy. you can see an example of the scary green light in the pic above.
  • super, super corny happy ending. i hate super happy endings, especially in movies that are scary or disturbing since it totally ruins the bad feelings you’ve been building up for the last hour and a half, but it’s sort of fitting here — the childishly scary show gets a childishly happy ending. and the whole “kissin’, kissin’, that’s what i’ve been missin'” recurring line is fucking gross and annoying. what a perfectly dreadful way to end a perfectly dreadful 4.5 hr slog of a film.

for those reasons, i think the miniseries version of the shining is straight up garbage. but what makes all of this even worse is that stephen king not only likes it, but thinks it’s infinitely superior to kubrick’s version.

e15db96c98c23cefe3a3d362165d7eee

king is an idiot.

king doesn’t think kubrick focused enough on jack’s alcoholism and the disintegration of the family’s relationship. he thinks shelley duvall “just screamed and acted stupid” in kubrick’s version. he thinks kubrick downplayed the supernatural elements of the story and played up the psychological ones. he thinks that because kubrick himself was an atheist, he couldn’t make a film about about ghosts that was scary or believable.

Coloring book with flower theme 3

king’s preferred version of the shining

that’s all asinine horseshit. i think kubrick did a fantastic job of balancing jack’s alcoholism, the disintegration of the family, and both the psychological and supernatural elements in the film. king’s problem is that he’s a ham-fisted dunce who likes his films to be like kids’ colouring books with really thick, clear lines so that even fucking dummies can understand exactly what king intended. he wants to beat you over the head with each theme. he has no understanding of subtlety, tastefulness, balance, etc.

as for duvall’s performance, i guess it was very different from what king had written in his book (if rebecca de mornay’s version of wendy is any indication) but i certainly don’t think she portrays wendy as simply a screaming, stupid woman. i think her character is complex and believable — she’s a loving mother and partner, submissive, terribly nervous of rocking jack’s boat (and rightfully so considering his history of alcoholism and physical abuse), but ultimately unable to allow him to destroy her and danny. i think that’s probably pretty accurate for a lot of people who are partners with abusive alcoholics. in fact, i find that more believable than du mornay’s version of wendy, letting jack act like a psycho and toss her around without ever telling him, “you’re a violent freak, danny and i are leaving.” that response would be much more consistent with du mornay’s strong, reasonable character. but king is a dummy so he missed that inconsistency.

king’s criticism that kubrick couldn’t make a scary supernatural film because he didn’t believe in scary supernatural stuff is an interesting one. it’s a neat idea and somewhat intellectual, but it’s still complete bullshit. there is TONS of scary — legitimately scary, not ‘green lightbulb’ scary — supernatural stuff in kubrick’s version of the shining: the elevators releasing torrents of blood, the weird ghost twins, the woman in room 237, the unexplained men in the bedroom (one in an animal costume)…once again, king seems discontent with kubrick’s version of scary and would prefer more goofy shit like people wearing sheets jumping out and shouting BOO. king wants stupid simple scares, and plenty of em, and loathes anything remotely cerebral or legitimately scary.

ture-film-freudiantrip-shining-bloodyelevators-620

anyone who claims this scene wasn’t scary is a liar

you know, maybe the reason king claims kubrick’s version stinks and isn’t scary is actually because king finds it terrifying. maybe his pride can’t bear to admit that kubrick made something infinitely darker and more sinister than king could have, and rather than say “well done sir, you took my crappy book and made it into a fantastic film. i owe you a beer,” he prefers to act too cool and say, “nah it’s not scary. it’s not true to my original vision. he totally changed stuff. mine was better.” i honestly can’t see any other way that someone could claim the tv miniseries version is better than kubrick’s. it’s that ridiculous to me.

FURTHERMORE, some of the positive reviews for the miniseries version are absolutely jam-packed full of shit. entertainment weekly said

“There’s a deep, rich creepiness suffusing Stephen King’s The Shining that makes this miniseries the most frightening TV movie ever made.”

and variety said

“At six hours, its slowness is carefully calculated; the edge-of-your-seat creepiness unfolds with a languid believability that will rope in viewers early and hold them. This mini earns its massive length, using every minute to paint a picture of surprising emotional complexity and depth.”

FUCK YOUUUUUUUUU

these dick-sucking, uber positive reviews of something that is clearly garbage only further my belief that many professional critics are actually just writers being paid by the companies behind the film to pump it up. there is no way that anyone on earth actually feels like that about such a wretched diarrhea shit of a tv miniseries.

oh, and it got a bunch of awards too, for best makeup, best miniseries, blah blah blah. but i’ve already bitched about how awards shows are the same kind of dick-sucking industry blowhard bullshit as the above reviews.

go fuck yourself, hollywood. and stephen king. you’re all disastrous lunatics. the miniseries version of the shining eats my shit, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.

the-shining-1997-poster

i sacrificed 4.5 hrs of my life so that others wouldn’t have to.