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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mick Garris
Cast:
Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan
Writing Credits:
Stephen King

Synopsis:
After a deadly plague kills most of the world's population, the remaining survivors split into two groups - one led by a benevolent elder and the other by a malevolent being - to face each other in a final battle between good and evil.

MPAA:
Rated NR.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0
German Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Danish
German
Norwegian
Finnish
Swedish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Danish
German
Norwegian
Finnish
Swedish

Runtime: 360 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 9/24/2019

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Mick Garris, Writer Stephen King, Editor Pat McMahon and Actors Rob Lowe, Ruby Dee, Miguel Ferrer, and Jamey Sheridan
• “Making of” Featurette


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Stand [Blu-Ray] (1994)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 17, 2020)

One of Stephen King’s earlier books, 1978’s The Stand remains his longest – by 14 pages. The Stand spans 1152 pages, while 1986’s It clocks in at 1138 pages.

Sort of. As published in 1978, The Stand “only” ran 823 pages, but that happened because editors got King to trim the book by a substantial amount. 1990’s “Complete and Uncut” version reinstated that deleted material and took the book to its record-setting length.

Just as It got adapted into a TV mini-series in 1990, The Stand leapt to the small screen in 1994 – and the latter got a lot more room to breathe. Whereas the 1990 It crammed that massive book into a mere 187 minutes, the 1994 Stand got almost twice as much time to explore the story.

And a timely story it remains, as I write this during the COVID-19 pandemic. In The Stand, a government lab in California houses a powerful strain of the flu, and it accidentally gets released.

The virus spreads rapidly. This “super flu” leaves the vast majority of the human population dead.

The survivors eventually wind up in two camps. Mother Abagail Freemantle (Ruby Dee) heads one, and this group stands for positivity. Randall Flagg (Jamey Sheridan) leads the other, and they seem bent on destruction. The two will face off to determine the future path of humanity.

Given the length of the mini-series, obviously this synopsis leaves out a whole lot of content, especially related to the characters. Stand involves a slew of participants, and a formal exploration of these would make my overview run far too long.

Indeed, the novel’s length caused a long delay in its filmed adaptation. After Kubrick’s version of The Shining dazzled my 13-year-old self, I went on a King binge, and The Stand was one of the books I read.

I still recall my copy claimed that the tale would soon become a “major motion picture” with George Romero at the helm. I guess back then no one would go the same route as the 2017 and 2019 It films and split Stand into two theatrical movies, so the property sat for years since King couldn’t figure out how to cram the epic story into one feature flick.

Back in this site’s early days, I wrote up a review of the DVD version of this mini-series. Due to some long-forgotten technical issues, that discussion never got posted and I lost the original file.

As such, I can’t examine my specific thoughts about The Stand circa 2000 or whenever, other than I think I didn’t like it. Given the vagueness of these memories, though, I went into the mini-series with an open mind.

Well, semi-open, as that 20-year-old perception stayed in my head. Also, my fairly negative view of that It mini-series adaptation left me without much optimism for how well broadcast TV could translate King.

Although I can’t recall specifically why I didn’t care for this mini-series 20 years ago, I can state that I don’t disagree with that negative assessment. While the 1994 Stand doesn’t provide an unwatchable piece, it never becomes particularly compelling.

For lack of a better description, the mini-series just seems too “TV movie”. We maintain the general sense that it needed to be dumbed down for broadcast television, so the rough edges no longer exist.

Granted, the nature of this story doesn’t require the level of graphic content one would need for something like It to succeed. While it feels sanitized here, it can still work without “R”-rated material.

It can, but it doesn’t, mainly because the mini-series lacks much drama or tension. The entire project builds inexorably toward the good/evil confrontation I describe, but it doesn’t manage to develop these issues in a particularly compelling manner.

Really, little about The Stand manages the kind of dread or terror it needs. We get a long tale about the near-extinction of humanity that elevates to a battle for the soul of the world, and it all feels oddly sluggish and languid.

I wish I’d read The Stand more recently than 40 years ago, for I’d like to remember how well it worked. Back then, I know I loved it, but as a stupid kid, it didn’t take much to impress me.

As a stupid middle-aged dude, I’m harder to please, so perhaps I’d find King’s novel to be a snoozer. Given that I read It not long after I saw those movies and enjoyed it, though, I suspect the book holds up well.

King’s novel must work better than this mini-series, at least in terms of dramatic content. With so much room for involving material, I really can’t get over just how dull so much of TV version of The Stand feels.

Perhaps some of this is inevitable given the length of the source. Even a six-hour movie may be insufficient to depict an extended text like this.

The 2017/2019 It ran a total of about five hours – almost a full hour shorter than The Stand - and it managed to cover the necessary territory fairly well. However, It came with a much more concentrated assortment of characters and settings, so it lent itself to this form of abridgement.

On the other hand, The Stand provides a substantially more epic affair, with an enormous roster of characters and a broad array of locations. This source required King to pare matters to the bone or depict everything in a superficial manner.

King opted for the latter, and I can’t fault him, as this felt like a “no win” proposition. An abbreviated Stand might work better as a TV production, but it’d disappoint fans of the novel.

I don’t know how those folks feel about the 1994 mini-series, and maybe they went away happy because it managed to include so much of the book. Still, I don’t know how much satisfaction they took from the sluggish, drama-free program, though.

The Stand does come with a pretty good cast. Ed Harris and Kathy Bates appear in cameos, but the main group offers some solid performers like Dee, Sheridan, Gary Sinise, Ossie Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Rob Lowe and others.

Most bring competent performances, albeit turns that lean toward the campy side. Much of Stand comes with an overwrought feel typical of made-for-TV fare from this era, and even though most of the actors worked in feature films, they tend to “act down” to the format.

At the risk of redundancy, that remains one of the biggest issues with The Stand, as it simply feels too much like TV movie melodrama. The mini-series fails to tap the inherent drama in the story and becomes a slow, fairly dull exploration of the material.


The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

The Stand appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not without concerns, the mini-series looked better than I’d expect from something made for 1990s TV.

Shot on film, a few elements betrayed some standard-def video on a few occasions, but most of Stand seemed to come from the source. This meant generally good delineation, as most of the show looked fairly well-defined.

“Fairly” became the operative term, as Stand didn’t usually offer exemplary sharpness. However, it seemed more than adequate, with only occasional shots that seemed decidedly soft.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. With a good layer of grain, I sensed no problematic use of noise reduction, but sporadic instances of minor print flaws like specks and marks appeared.

The Stand opted for a natural palette, and the hues usually looked pretty good. At times the colors felt a little heavy, but they mainly came across with fairly nice fidelity.

Blacks seemed a bit dense, and shadows could be a little thick. Still, these elements mainly came across in a satisfactory manner. I debated a “B-“ or a “C+” for The Stand, but given that it looked better than expected for a circa 1994 TV project, I thought the higher grade made sense.

Don’t expect the mini-series’ Dolby 2.0 audio to overcome its origins, as it offered a dated affair. The absence of a lossless track made me subtract some points, but I must admit that the limitations of the source meant this wouldn’t become a great mix anyway.

The soundscape varied from “pretty broad” to “basically monaural”, without much consistency. For instance, at times the score would broaden across the spectrum in a pleasing manner, but other instances would keep the music fairly centered.

The same went for effects, as they offered mixed results. As with the music, sometimes these elements opened up the spectrum in an engaging way, whereas other scenes made them stuck in the middle.

All of this meant a mixed bag in terms of soundfield. The most successful moments allowed the track more breadth than I’d expect from a 1994 TV project, but a lot of the material remained limited.

Audio quality also seemed decent but unmemorable. Speech probably worked the best, as the lines seemed natural and concise, with only a little edginess at times.

At times music showed nice range and impact, but other instances brought score that felt a bit thin. Effects came across as reasonably clear but without much impact or power. All told, this felt like a passable mix and not much more.

In terms of extras, the mini-series comes with an audio commentary from director Mick Garris, novelist/screenwriter Stephen King, editor Pat McMahon and actors Rob Lowe, Ruby Dee, Miguel Ferrer, and Jamey Sheridan. Across this edited, screen-specific piece, we hear about the source and its adaptation, story, characters and themes, music, cast and performances, sets and locations, and other connected topics.

In terms of construction, it sounds like King and Garris recorded their own running, screen-specific chats, and the actors and McMahon appeared with Garris on appropriate occasions. This format works fine, even if the new participants don’t always introduce themselves. For instance, Lowe appears out of nowhere, and it takes a moment to figure out who he is.

As for the content, we learn quite a bit about the story and the production. The biggest problem stems from dead air, though for the most part, this seems fairly minimal given the film’s length.

That said, Episode One fares best in this regard, as it comes with the most dense array of remarks. Episodes Two and Three show more empty spaces but these remain acceptable.

The wheels come off the bus somewhat with Episode Four. The track takes surprisingly long to start – I don’t expect dead air at the beginning of a chapter – and too many gaps occur.

Despite that disappointment, I still mostly like the commentary. Even with some lulls, it delivers a good look at the production and the source. Just expect frustration during the final chapter.

A vintage featurette called Making Of runs five minutes, 29 seconds and provides notes from King, Dee, Garris, Lowe, special effects designer Steve Johnson, executive producer Richard P. Rosenstein, and actors Molly Ringwald, Laura San Giacomo and Gary Sinise.

“Making Of” offers a basic overview of the story and production. It’s basic promo fodder with little informational value.

Adapted from one of Stephen King’s most beloved novels, The Stand comes packed with potential drama and terror. Unfortunately, the mini-series failed to capitalize on the material, as it becomes a sluggish tale without much to make it compelling. The Blu-ray provides decent picture and audio along with a mostly enjoyable commentary. Hopefully the 2020 version of The Stand will improve on this mediocre 1994 edition.

Note that this Blu-ray of The Stand can be purchased on its own or as part of a “Stephen King 5-Movie Collection”. The latter also includes The Dead Zone, Silver Bullet, Pet Sematary (1989) and Pet Sematary (2019).

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main