Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Shining VS The Shining

                                                                 TALE OF THE TAPE

               Title: The Shining                                                        Title: The Shining
               Tomato Meter: 88%                                                    Tomato Meter: n/a
                IMDB Rating: 8.5                                                        IMDB Rating: 6.0
               Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall                      Starring: Steven Weber, Rebecca De Mornay
               Director: Stanley Kubrick                                            Director: Mick Garris
               Box Office: $44 million                                                Box Office: n/a
               Academy: n/a                                                              Academy: n/a
               Year: 1980                                                                   Year: 1997

A classic film vs a made for tv remake clash in the ring as one of cinema's greatest directors and visionaries puts up a film that is panned by Stephen King purists. The television mini series is more faithful to King's story, but does it pack the same punch. We find out in The Showdown.

In Stanley Kubrick's Shining, audiences are treated to a horror masterpiece. One part ghost story, one part psychological thriller, the Shining becomes a compelling experience that explores the weaknesses of the family structure. In similar films, families come together against a common evil, but here we see the husband and father betray his family as he slowly slips into insanity brought on by the malevolent entity that torments them. Like a master sculpture, Stanley chips away Stephen King's more over-the-top elements such as animal shaped hedges that come to life or imaginary friends from the future, until all that's left is the complete piece. Incredible performances by Jack Nicholson, Scatman Crothers, and young Danny Lloyd propel this film forward at an unrelenting pace. Kubrick's use of music only adds to the overall theme of madness and isolation.

In1997, a made for tv mini-series with a television screenplay from Stephen King himself hit the small screen in an effort to "correct" all that Kubrick left out. Stephen King fans thrilled to the closer to the novel approach that made the Shining such a best seller. Less psychological, this film emphasizes the haunted house aspect of the story.

Sadly, a truth that Stephen King and his fans need to realize, is no novel of his should ever be adapted for television. It is an automatic disqualification. Television has three things that hinder any adaptation. 1) Censorship. Standards and practices will edit for content and incredibly hamstring artistic merit. 2) Commercials. Content aside, it will be edited for time restraints in order to push the latest technology in toothpaste. Plus, commercials just ruing the rhythm and tempo of a film, spoiling the intended experience. 3) Production value. Sorry, but if you're gonna attempt to trump the work of Stanley Kubrick, you have got to do better than pairing off Jack Nicholson against Steven Weber, the guy from "Wings." In fact, it's a wonder why Stephen King chooses to put his classic, and arguably best works, on television. The Stand and It, for example, were completely compelling novels that have been ham-stringed by the rigors and regulations of television adaptation. So for fans of King's vision of the Shining, they are reduced to accepting a sub par film in every respect.

When both fighters enter the ring, it is apparent that the 1997 Shining is way out of its league. With a shattered glass jaw, it goes down in the first round. 

The Winner: Kubrick's The Shining

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Batman (1966) VS Batman & Robin

                                                                 TALE OF THE TAPE

               Title: Batman                                                              Title: Batman & Robin
               Tomato Meter: 83%                                                    Tomato Meter:13%
                IMDB Rating: 6.3                                                        IMDB Rating: 3.5
               Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward                               Starring: George Clooney, Uma Thurman
               Director: Robert Zemeckis                                          Director: Joel Schumacher
               Box Office: $13 million                                                Box Office: $107 million
               Academy: n/a                                                              Academy: n/a
               Year: 1966                                                                   Year: 1989

Once More, Batman slugs it out with himself here at Showdown. But before we engage in the epic rematch of Tim Burton vs Chris Nolan's vision of the Caped Crusader, we pair off arguably the two worst films in the Batman film franchises.

There is so much camp in Batman: The Movie, that one feels a need to build a fire and bring marshmallows.  Yet it works. The film is a wonderful adaptation of the popular tv show, and features four of Batman's top villains, the Joker, Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman. While a film directed at the kids of the era, today it comes off as a comedy of MST3K proportions. With an aerosol can of Bat-Shark repellent, Batman is able to thwart a great white shark attached to his leg. Batman runs around with a loaded bomb and cannot get rid of it, running into sailors, nuns, ducks, and a marching band. Batman also points out to Robin, referring to the bar patrons, "They may be drinkers, but they're still human beings." Just classic cornball. And there is plenty of Pow, Zap, Ka-Boom action to go around. 

There is so much camp in Batman and Robin, that one feels like fleeing occupied Poland. With the popular villains such as the Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and Riddler already used up in previous films in this series, Joel Schumacher gives us Poison Ivy, sensually played by Uma Thurman, a cornballish Dr. Freeze, and a retarded version of a newcomer to Batman's rogue gallery, Bane. Everything that has made the Tim Burton films successful (atmosphere, pacing, dialogue, costumes) have completely been stripped down and restructured into what audiences can only guess as Joel exercising his passive aggressive disdain towards comic book movies. Either that, or he was clearly there for a paycheck.

As both fighters enter the ring, Batman & Robin clearly have the money on their side. But don't discount the poor, struggling fighter as they have the eye of the tiger. From the opening bell Batman:the Movie is clearly dominating with its unorthodox style. Batman & Robin, being all flash and no substance, can barely defend itself, let alone go on offense. Winner by KO in round 2, Batman: the Movie.

Winner: Batman: the Movie