Evaluate: The Stand begins out robust after which whiffs the touchdown

Enlarge / James Marsden, Alexander Skarsgård, Whoopi Goldberg, and Amber Heard are among the many ensemble solid of a brand new miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s sprawling 1978 novel, The Stand.

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A lethal virus wipes out many of the human inhabitants, and the survivors discover themselves caught in an apocalyptic battle between good and evil in The Stand, the most recent miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s sprawling 1978 novel. However regardless of a powerful begin, terrific performances from the all-star ensemble solid, and spectacular manufacturing values, as a narrative, The Stand begins unraveling halfway via, culminating in a meandering, seemingly pointless finale.

(Spoilers for the e-book beneath; a few main spoilers for the brand new miniseries beneath the gallery. We’ll offer you a heads-up after we get there.)

As we reported previouslyThe Stand is extensively thought of to be amongst King’s finest work, with a sprawling solid of characters and a number of storylines. It is also his longest, with the 1990 Full and Uncut Version surpassing even It in web page rely. King has mentioned he wished to put in writing an epic darkish fantasy akin to The Lord of the Rings, solely with a recent American setting. “As a substitute of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and as an alternative of a Darkish Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg,” King wrote in his 1981 nonfiction e-book, Danse Macabre. “The land of Mordor (‘the place the shadows lie,’ in response to Tolkien) was performed by Las Vegas.”

The novel opens with the unintended launch of an particularly contagious and lethal influenza virus (dubbed the “superflu” or “Captain Journeys”), developed as a organic weapon in a secret US authorities laboratory. The accident kills everybody within the laboratory apart from a safety guard named Charles Campion, who escapes and tries to flee along with his household. However he’s already contaminated and spreads the virus earlier than he dies. Even imposing martial regulation cannot comprise the virus, which finally spreads worldwide, killing over 99 p.c of humanity inside a month.

However some individuals show to be immune—together with the principle protagonist, Stu Redman—and these survivors should determine methods to rebuild some semblance of a functioning society. They’re aided by mysterious shared goals. In a single, “Mom Abigail” Freemantle requires them to come back to her Nebraska farm; the opposite includes terrifying visions of a “darkish man” named Randall Flagg. Every survivor should select one or the opposite. Stu finally ends up main a gaggle of survivors in Boulder, Colorado, who observe Mom Abigail; Flagg units up a brutal totalitarian authorities in Las Vegas, the place he’s worshipped as a messiah and crucifies all those that displease him.

In 1994, ABC aired a miniseries adaptation of The Stand, starring Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Ed Harris, Miguel Ferrer, Laura San Giacomo, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee, amongst others. The miniseries obtained essential reward and was nominated for six Emmy awards; it received two, for make-up and sound mixing. So why produce a second miniseries in any respect when the primary one was such successful? Maybe the intent was to introduce a brand new technology to King’s darkish apocalyptic imaginative and prescient. Or maybe CBS simply wished a bit of the present market demand for King diversifications (cf. It, It: Chapter Two, Physician Sleep, the Fortress Rock collection, and so forth).

This new restricted miniseries on CBS All Entry is co-written by Josh Boone and Ben Cavell. On this model, James Marsden stars as Stu Redman, who leads the group of survivors that heed their visions of Mom Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg) and type a group in Boulder. He falls in love with, and finally marries pregnant school scholar Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Younger), a lot to the frustration of teen nerd Harold Lauder (Owen Teague), who can also be in love with Frannie. En path to Boulder, disillusioned pop singer Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo) befriends a 30-something virgin trainer named Nadine Cross (Amber Heard), who has in flip befriended an orphaned boy named Joe (Gordon Cormier).

(Some main spoilers beneath; cease studying now if you have not (a) learn the e-book, and/or (b) completed the miniseries.)

The Boulder denizens additionally embody a deaf/mute named Nick Andros (Henry Zaga); sociology professor Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear) and his trusty golden retriever, Kojak; a mentally challenged man named Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke); and farmer Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard), gender-swapped from the e-book. On the darkish facet, a suitably menacing Alexander Skarsgård performs Randall Flagg, with Nat Wolff taking part in Flagg’s conflicted right-hand man, Lloyd Henreid, a profession prison whom Flagg sprung from jail after everybody else round him had died, leaving Lloyd to slowly starve. Ezra Miller performs the Garbage can Man, a pyromaniac/schizophrenic who performs a pivotal function within the remaining confrontation. (There may be additionally a sly cameo by King himself for eagle-eyed viewers.)

The primary three episodes are implausible, vividly depicting the onset of the lethal pandemic and the following panic, step by step introducing us to our primary characters, introduced collectively by their shared visions of Mom Abigail. That is loads of narrative threads to juggle and Boone and Cavell achieve this admirably. Sadly, they have been unable to keep up that delicate juggling act over the course of your complete collection, starting to elide over key character developments of their rush to the inevitable confrontation with Flagg.

That is most noticeable within the love triangle of Stu, Frannie, and Harold, notably the latter’s choice to affix forces with an more and more deranged Nadine (who additionally will get brief shrift as she descends into insanity) and observe Flagg.  Harold finally ends up planting a bomb that takes out many of the group’s management. King’s novel spends a great deal of time fleshing out Harold’s deep-seated psychological points that finally drive him to violence, solely repenting on the point of loss of life. We get none of that right here, apart from just a few transient glimpses of the teenager’s rising obsession and paranoia—though Teague’s portrayal of Harold’s remaining moments, after Nadine abandons him, is sort of transferring.

Up via the penultimate episode, the narrative hews carefully to King’s novel, notably the longer uncut model, with minor modifications. That features the stark good vs. evil binary, Nadine’s being pregnant by Flagg and subsequent suicide, and Flagg instructing the Garbage can Man to retrieve a nuclear warhead. However the Garbage can Man brings the warhead to Flagg’s headquarters, the fictional Inferno resort, as an alternative, and it kills everybody in “New Vegas” when it detonates. There’s much more nuance to all of this within the novel, which is missing within the miniseries, to the latter’s detriment. It makes the Hand of God plot system (the quintessential deus ex machina) that units off the warhead downright foolish, particularly because it’s accompanied by lightning strikes vaporizing lots of Flagg’s followers, just like the ark of the covenant taking out Nazi soldiers in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

One could be inclined to chop the present some slack on that rating; it is supernatural horror, in any case. However for some cause, the writers determined to tack on another episode, written by King and his son, Owen. It is basically a protracted, rambling denouement the place Stu and Frannie go away Boulder with their new child child to go to Maine, as a result of Frannie is homesick and needs to see the ocean. Stu agrees as a result of the Boulder Free Zone is getting too populous for his liking, and he fears crime will change into an issue—which is senseless, given all of the horrors we have witnessed over the course of the collection. A couple of drunk and disorderlies ought to seem to be heaven after all of the torture and homicide and whatnot.

The final episode frankly serves no clear objective. I imply, Frannie falls down a effectively, has a imaginative and prescient of a resurrected Flagg, and is in the end rescued by Stu and a younger model of Mom Abigail, who warns them that the wheel retains turning and the combat between good and evil by no means ends. Simply… why? I can solely presume that CBS is hopeful of a possible second season, targeted on the survivors making an attempt to rebuild humanity, with Flagg as a lurking menace to their success. And who is aware of? Free of the onus of following the supply materials, with so many robust characters already established, it would simply make for a greater sequel.

All episodes of The Stand miniseries are actually streaming on CBS All Entry.

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