review by Bobby Blakey
Over the years there have been a lot of Stephen King novels turned into movies that were hit and miss. As of late they have been offering up some great takes with the remakes of Pet Sematary and IT with the second chapter hitting in September. Back in 1980 director Stanley Kubrick delivered what most feel is a masterpiece with his adaptation of The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. Now director Mike Flanagan is bringing the highly anticipated follow-up, Doctor Sleep to the big screen in hopes to carrying on the originals legacy this time starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Bruce Greenwood, Jacob Tremblay, and Kyliegh Curran. Could this sequel live up to the original or King’s novel or should it have stopped shining years ago?
Doctor Sleep follows a now-adult Dan Torrance who meets a young girl with similar powers as he tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal years following the events of "The Shining.” Like most I love the original film so was always apprehensive to the idea of a sequel, but I also try to keep things separately since the novel exists and the story does in fact continue. When the first trailers hit I loved the look and feel of it but still keeping things cautious in heading into this film and where it went with the source material of both books and the film.
Right out of the gate it lets you know that this film is going to honor both properties with some recreated and new footage of the aftermath of the first film. The casting for all the people to play these characters was pretty spot on. Sure none of them could ever be replaced in their iconic performances, but for the purposes of moving this new story forward they worked great. Jumping ahead to the new story McGregor is all in bringing numerous layers to the adult Danny Torrance as he deals with the aftermath of his childhood and his own demons. Ferguson is so good here bringing an evil to the role that is believable while still being someone kind of want to side with.
The recreations and visuals are excellent throughout and I loved the
reaction of these characters to some of the classic moments as well as their own interactions with the new story. The movie is visually stunning with not only the awesome recreation of the Overlook Hotel, but the rest of the cinematography bringing a tone that feels new but still very much in line with the original film. The music isn’t quite as powerful in my opinion but still brings elements to the film that keep you invested in the original ideals along with the new direction. This film isn’t offering up jump scares and has a different tone but that’s a good thing to allow it to be its own thing while still being very much apart of the bigger story.
I have never read either book, but know that the ending here is changed pretty dramatically so some might not enjoy that aspect. As someone who has not read it I loved where they took it and felt it served up a better cap than what the original had done for film. This is a story that many love whether it be the book or the film, but at the end they are all King’s story and not the filmmakers. He has criticized the original film to no end and I have seen him praise this film so take that how you want. In the end there is some slow pacing similar to the original, but worked great for me.
This release not only includes the film but also bonus content including featurettes taking you behind bringing this film to life as well as a Director’s Cut that features nearly 30 minutes of new, alternate and extended scenes, selected by director Mike Flanagan, not seen in theaters. Return to the world of The Shining when Doctor Sleep available now on digital and then on 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD on February 4th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.