THE MIST (Frank Darabont). 127 minutes. Opens Friday (November 23). Rating: NN
According to the internet movie Database, more than 100 films or TV shows have some kind of Stephen King involvement. He can't be blamed for all of them; Children Of The Corn II through VI are certainly not his fault. But damn, that's a lot of movies. The Mist is not one of the top 10.
Frank Darabont's third feature adaptation of a King novella is a lot less classy than The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile.
Of course, those movies were about the brotherhood of man and magical negroes. The Mist is about small-towners trapped in a supermarket by giant trans-dimensional bugs - which means it should be better than Shawshank and The Green Mile.
And it is better than the latter. At least, it's almost an hour shorter. And instead of Morgan Freeman and Tom Hanks, it's got a cast full of people often identified by tags rather than names: that hunky leading guy who isn't Aaron Eckhardt (Thomas Jane), the other Truman Capote (Toby Jones), Cliff's mom from Cheers (Frances Sternhagen), the main black guy from Homicide: A Life On The Street (Andre Braugher).
Oh, and Marcia Gay Harden goes over the top as "the religious fanatic," becoming this year's leading contender for the "worst work by a randomly cast Oscar winner."
If Darabont wants to make movies about the human condition, civilization's thin veneer and the dangers of fanaticism, he shouldn't pick a King story that's mostly about giant bugs gnawing on people.
Or if that's the story he's got, he shouldn't worry about the moral dimensions of the booga-booga.
This is enjoyable cheese for the first 90 minutes or so, but the last 20 are excruciatingly slow, occasionally turning into weird Antonioni moments: meaningless pans and actors who won't make eye contact with each other.
And Darabont blows the ending, which is too ambiguous for Hollywood.