Artisan/1994/366m/FS 1.33

    In Stephen King’s The Stand, the author once again takes on the theme of good battling evil. Produced as a four-part television mini-series, the movie is conveniently broken down into four bloated segments with separate titles. The Plague is the opening and can be comfortably referred to as “the set-up.”  An accident at a military bio warfare research center spreads a deadly virus into the atmosphere. The incident is poorly depicted, making the most unlikely pathway through the country. The set-up is so crucial, yet so sloppily handled, a sure sign that this production will travel any road it wants with little concern for the direction. As the virus travels, we meet the survivors as the epidemic and script skip around the country with merry abandon.  Who are these guys anyway and why in God’s name are they the chosen ones to fight the devil. There is certainly no case for any of them surviving the plague. Again, the players are sad caricatures, especially the military and government personnel depicted in The Plague.

Millennium party of apocalypse celebration? ©Artisan

     King’s apocalyptic material was given outstanding film interpretation by director Fraser Heston in Needful Things. The focus, unlike in The Stand, was compact, executed without blubber to prop up the story. The Stand suffers from lack of focus and a roaming, flaccid style of storytelling. If you choose to evaluate The Stand by lesser standards often connoted by calling something a TV movie, it’s simply making excuses for a poorly scripted and bloated production. 
      The Stand breaks down firstly from the boring script. Stephen King has nobody to blame but himself, as he is the screenwriter of I. Mick Garris adds nothing to the production with bland and formulaic direction. Actors like Gary Sinese seem stranded in a wasteland of banal scripting.  Laura San Giacomo, Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe are likewise infected by the production.      
     The Stand
is presented as a special edition. Audio commentary from director Mick Garris, Stephen King, Rob Lowe, Ruby Dee, Miguel Ferrer, Jamey Sheridan, and editor Pat McMahon is included. There’s also storyboard comparisons with the actual scenes and a “making of” featurette. The DVD is presented in its native 1.33 aspect ratio. Image sharpness is inconsistent. Sometimes it so clear it appears that no transfer was necessary to video and at other times I had to wonder if the cinematographer was able to keep the composition in focus.  The colors are fine and shadow detail is adequate. Light output is ample for any system. The Dolby 2-channel surround is adequate.



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