Film Review: Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Doctor Sleep 2

By: Jesse Striewski

(Warning: may contain spoilers!)

It’s been thirty-nine years since the original Shining hit theaters, and over four decades since Stephen King’s novel it was based on was released. Now King’s 2013 follow up novel finally gets the Hollywood treatment, and couldn’t be more spot on.

Doctor Sleep is one of those rare films that engrosses viewers so deeply, they get completely lost in the world that’s being presented. It’s escapism at it’s absolute best. And unlike the slower pace of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 original, this follow up feels equivalent to that of a rollercoaster ride (yet without ever dumbing things down too much, which is far too often the case these days), even with a run time of over two and a half hours long.

The story follows a grown Dan Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor), now a recovering alcoholic who is propelled into helping another young prodigy that “shines” by the name of Abra Stone (played by Kyleigh Curran), who is being hunted down by a pack of half-human monsters who feed on children with her unique gift.

And like the original book/film, there are some noticeable differences present in this adaptation as well, some for better, some for worse. Aside from the obvious character changes made (Abra and Billy perhaps the most noticeable of all), there’s some characters that are drastically reduced (Dr. Dalton, played by Bruce Greenwood in the film, plays a much smaller role than in the book), or barely touched upon at all (Abra’s grandmother “Momo” played a significant role in the book, but is only mentioned and never actually seen on screen). And, without giving away too much, there’s also a key revelation at the end of the novel that unfortunately gets left out completely here.

Still, nearly every portrayal on screen is exactly what is pictured while reading the novel. McGregor is brilliant as a grown up Dan Torrance, newcomer Curran does an outstanding job as the young Abra Stone, and Rebecca Ferguson is both playfully menacing and sexy in her take on Rose the Hat. We also get glimpses of several other characters from the original film; Alex Essose as Wendy Torrance, Carl Lumbly as Dick Hallorann, and Henry Thomas (yes, the one from E.T.) as Jack Torrance, all do impeccable renditions of their respective counterparts. There’s even a brief cameo by Danny Llyod, who played Dan Torrance in the original film.

You could go see whatever mindless drivel that’s currently being churned out at your local theater, or see something with some actual substance (even those who haven’t read the book, but are fans of horror, should be entertained). Doctor Sleep is a film that both pays homage to an absolute American classic, and stands alone on its own all together. It should be viewed on the big screen while the chance to do so is still available.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Film Review: The Dirt (Netflix)

Dirt 2

By: Jesse Striewski

After years of false starts in development, the long-awaited film adaptation of Motley Crue’s 2001 book The Dirt finally saw the light of day on Netflix this past Friday, March 22…and what a ride it was!

I’ve made no secrets about being a die hard Crue head ever since the day my brother-in-law gave me his old copy of Shout at the Devil (on cassette!) when I was 13 or 14. While the cover confused me at first (I honestly couldn’t tell if they were guys or girls!), the music instantly blew me away, and Nikki Sixx quickly became one of my bass heroes (I had just gotten my first bass guitar, and the intro to the title track was one of the very first riffs I ever learned to play). During their run, I was even lucky enough to catch the band live a couple of times, and their music continued to stay with me, even when it wasn’t considered “cool” to like anything from their era.

Having already read the book, I had a pretty good idea what to expect from the film version of The Dirt. While some critics are giving the film a bad rap for not really adding anything new (how can you really?), I found it completely mesmerizing reliving the band’s saga via this format. Sure, there are a few moments that were indeed over the top, but that was Motley! And hearing early tracks like “On with the Show,” “Take Me to the Top,” and Merry Go Round” was a welcomed trip down memory lane (and it’s good to see these songs are actually being introduced to a new generation).

Granted there are some noticeable inconsistencies here; for example, Vince Neil’s daughter Skylar -who unfortunately passed away at just 4 years old – is shown more than once in scenes that take place during the ’80s, when she in fact wasn’t even born until 1991. But everything from Sixx’s 1987 overdose, to Neil’s 1984 DUI/vehicular manslaughter charge that included the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingely, are all covered with total effectiveness (I was even glad to see that brief/underrated singer John Corabi was given some screen time and not just skipped over). The actors portraying the band all pull off admirable jobs as well – especially Douglas Booth and Colson Baker, who seem as though they were born to play Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, respectively.

In a time full of uber-PC thought police (supposedly fighting “against” fascism, yet ultimately creating more of it themselves without even realizing it) where we’re constantly being updated on what is and isn’t considered “accepted” these days, it’s refreshing to see something that doesn’t hold back just to please everyone. And it definitely is not for everyone, but it does capture a moment in rock n’ roll history that was unlike any other, and likely never will be again.

Rating: 4/5 Stars