Warning! This will contain a lot of spoilers. Almost all spoilers actually. So stay away if you do not wish to have things spoiled.
Last night before my highly anticipated nap, I finished Stephen King's The Mist. Typically I try to distant the time between viewing the movie and reading the book within a few months to avoid any unnecessary critique on tiny or big things left out of the film adaption. Lately my take on adaptions has changed which I'll talk more about a bit later- so I guess at this point it doesn't really matter. However while reading The Mist, I was so excited about the movie, of which I had heard great things about, that I timed it's Netflix arrival with my finishing of the story. I was so eager to see the horrible things in the book presented in film form and even more excited to see how this "changed" ending played out. Yes the ending was spoiled for me at some point but no, I did not wish to seek it out this time. Anyways, this is less of a review and more of a what's good, what's not. And I promise that I'm really trying to distance my liking or not liking away from the original story. If anything the story just helped me understand the themes played out in the movie and caused me to question certain choices made by the director.
One of the main things that I struggled with, was how the two different sides of the spectrum were handled-- science and religion. I didn't love the fact that we were force fed an explanation for the mist, but the concept also shoves to us the fact that the reasoning behind the mist is very science oriented. Even though we are given this fact and in extraneous detail, we are still shown things that make us question the validity of the Arrowhead Project causing the events. This wouldn't bother me if the reasoning was meant to be ambiguous but I really feel that it was not.
It felt like we were being told the real cause, shown Marcia Gay Harden's Mrs. Carmody and then told that crazy religious people are well, crazy and to be feared. YET- we get these strange instances of religion almost proving that it does have a hand in the events. That giant bug landing on Mrs. Carmody for example, that flies away after her rapid praying, whereas that other bug kills the cashier girl who only moments before was having sex in the storage room (before she was married? Gasp!). What are we suppose to take away from that? Is it just another sucker punch to the gut? Well, what about the realization that the woman from the beginning who put herself above the rest to go home and save her children- whom no one would "see home", was still alive and with her kids on the army bus being driven to safety? What about that choir of heavenly angels/ Lord of the Rings music at the end? It all seemed very confusing to me. Confusing in the sense that the movie felt like it was unsure of how we were suppose to react to it and that bothered me- it really did. It makes me wonder if we are suppose to think that perhaps Mrs. Carmody was in some stupid way right about everything. Bleck. Religion!
I've done a lot of combing of the inter webs to find out about the few major changes that were made and why Darabont chose to make them- and his answers really threw me for a serious loop. It's in many ways exactly like the movie not knowing if it's science based or religion based. I guess I'll just have to go ahead and talk about the ending because all of this stuff fits into that. The first major thing is this idea that one of Darabont's main drives was to make this movie extremely different from the influx of "torture porn" movies that were coming out at the time. If that is true then why completely change the ending to make it one of the bleakest, most hopeless endings of all time? Doesn't the ending basically fall under the same principles that torture porn movies do, and the idea of Nihilism? It just doesn't add up to me. And I'm sure he mostly means different in the sense that it's a step back to the days of good old classic monster movies- but another thing that Darabont said is also questionable in this respect.
He compared the townspeople in the store rallying together to survive, to the people who underwent Hurricane Katrina- where people rallied together to create hope. But as I said, the ending is a complete absence of hope! In King's original story, Drayton and those in the car make it to the Howard Johnson and he is able to hear one single word on the radio. He says it sounded like two very similar words. One was Hartford. The other was hope. It's like Darabont read that was and was like oh yeah hope- and then suddenly needed to change things up for the sake of stirring up controversy or making the movie different.
I'm all for a downbeat ending but in this case it just felt plain unnecessary. I would have been a little bit better if they had all just died in the car- but the fact that the rescue comes at such a bad time is too much of a sucker punch to withstand. Sure there is hope in the sense that things are under control and the world or just Maine I suppose, will be back to normal again--but why completely and utterly destroy our main character's well being so brutally? Drayton- who did nothing questionable, is torn apart with one simple view of an army tank. Why? If people dislike movies like Hostel and Saw that offer us feelings of emptiness and no true sense of redemption by the time the credits roll- why do we ignore the fact that this ending is almost worse- especially when it's suppose to be an entirely different kind of movie?
OK now that that's out of the way, I only had a few other things I wasn't crazy about. The acting. It felt strange at times. People keep referring to it as great but it felt oddly forced to me. Writing was fine, Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden were great-especially Jane at the end there. But a lot of times it just felt completely unnatural to me. Like the actor's were reading all of their lines with a strange sense of unsureness. And sorry to say this but the kid sucked. There are good child actor's out there but sadly this kid is just not one of them. Another thing that bothered me was the music. Did anyone else hear that strange comedic like music that would play sometimes when the bugs were attacking? What was that all about? Preachy music at the end? Didn't love it. Once again made me feel like this WAS all about religion.
And a big one that I think a lot of people may have missed was Drayton's wife. She felt very pushed to the side. We don't even get a nice goodbye scene with her and husband and son. She seemed too young and boring though maybe that was why. But in any case she should be a major focus point and motivation for Drayton to leave the supermarket and maybe she is at the end but when we see her dead body- we feel no true emotion. It becomes almost impossible to feel that connection to her because that connection was never really made.
Alright enough negativity. I realize it sounds like I may have not liked this movie at all but on the contrary, I quite enjoyed it. One thing that I surprisingly loved were the creatures. I was only bothered by the CGI one time- the giant tentacle in the storage room. And other than the fact that the spiders had some goofy ass faces, I was a fan of the creatures. I especially enjoyed how we don't get to see them up close and personal- the big ones anyways. That last shot of the huge one on the road was especially memorable- Jurassic Park like even. They have this great other worldly quality about them yet still kind of seemed tampered with in a mutated sense. It was quite an interesting combination.
This is a good movie- not a great movie, but it's good and it's different. I can understand why people really enjoyed it, and I can understand why other's did not favor it at all. Other than the ending, almost every single thing that was in the story appears in the novella. Even little things which I loved. Lately I've come to terms with the idea that books, like remakes- aren't always meant to be an exact retelling. Rather they provide a nice story board- or foundation. So I'm not going to write off a movie for changing huge things, but in the case of the ending again I just felt it strangely unnecessary-especially with that wanting to move away from torture porn thing. The ending however WAS extremely emotional. I may have almost had a panic attack because I put myself in the car with them. I did. and I almost cried too. It was so unbelievably heavy. Maybe if there was a bullet left for Drayton I wouldn't have minded it as much. But really. The government showing up thing really just killed it for me. Other than that the scenes were exactly what I had pictured in my head, and how can you not absolutely love Ollie with that gun!? The gore was horrifying and grotesque- the pharmacy scene especially, which, was also the scene that stuck out the most to me in King's story so I'm ecstatic that I felt the same when seeing the movie.
All in all, a solid adaption- but more importantly a solid movie. Sure I have my problems with it but don't the best works get the most criticism? Maybe someone just told me that in a creative writing workshop to make me feel better. But regardless- a solid time with some truly, truly memorable moments. Plenty will agree and plenty will disagree but I stand by my critiques, and by my fondness for it as well.