James Marsden, Owen Teague, Whoopi Goldberg, Alexander Skârsgard, Greg Kinnear, Odessa Young
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…a slick, engaging telling of a classic yarn, with uniformly excellent performances and enough shocks and jolts to keep you engaged.
Of the 61 novels Stephen King has written to date, few have had the indelible impact of The Stand. Even if prefer the precision horror of The Shining or the epic monster mash of It, it’s undeniable that The Stand has had a hugely wide-ranging impact on storytelling and storytellers.
It’s strange, then, that until recently the only adaptation of the work was the amiable, but lacking, 1994 miniseries that was frankly dated as buggery back then and these days looks like a Tim and Eric parody. That all changes with the new version of The Stand, created by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, New Mutants) and Benjamin Cavell, which delivers a bold new version of the classic good versus evil tale.
Humanity is cactus! We’ve died off by the billions, because of a nasty bloody super flu called Captain Trips. The naturally immune survivors, roughly 1% of the old population, now lob about America trying to rebuild or, in some cases, prey on the others. Eventually two sides begin to form. There are the nicer folks, who are drawn to 108-year-old Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg) and the deadset mongrels who bend the knee to Randall Flagg aka the ‘Dark Man’ (Alexander Skârsgard).
So, the stage is set for the final stand, where the forces of good battle the forces of evil for the soul of what’s left of humanity. Sound simple enough? Well, kinda. See, this time around, the story is told in a non-linear fashion, which may put off constant readers and newbies alike. The first episode, in particular, jumps around in time like an enraged pomeranian, and if you’re not paying attention you may find yourself a bit lost.
Our recommendation is, persevere. Yes, it takes some getting used to, but this is a slick, engaging telling of a classic yarn, with uniformly excellent performances and enough shocks and jolts to keep you engaged. It’s not the completely faithful adaptation some King fans may have wanted, but it’s a riveting mix of horror, drama and fantasy that offers a decent escape from the real life bullshit that’s beginning to feel like one of Stephen King’s more demented works.