Sunday, February 2, 2020

Blu-ray Review - Stephen King's Doctor Sleep

Available to Pre-Order on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD.

It should be no secret to anyone who follows this blog that I'm a big Stephen King fan and one of my favorite books is The Shining, which I had just reread last year along with its sequel, Doctor Sleep. I'm also a big fan of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, even though it leaves out most of King's story, including the ending where the hotel burns to ground.

The long-awaited sequel Doctor Sleep will be arriving on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD on Tuesday, February 4th. Included on the 4K UHD and Blu-ray is the 3-hour Director's Cut. Both the theatrical version and Director's Cut is already available to own on Digital HD. (Note: The 4K UHD and Blu-ray comes with a Digital Code featuring both the versions.)

Directed and adapted by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep is both a sequel to King's The Shining and Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film. Ewen McGregor plays an adult Danny "Dan" Torrance, who has become an alcoholic just like his father, Jack. After hitting rock bottom, Dan ends up in New Hampshire. He joins AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and gets a job as a hospice orderly, where he uses his "shining" abilities to help comfort dying patients, who give him the name Doctor Sleep.

With the use of a chalkboard wall in Dan's apartment, a young girl, Abra Stone (played by Kyliegh Curran), with the "shine" communicates with him. Through the shine, they become like pen pals for the next eight years.

Abra has a strong "shine" that gets the attention of the True Knot, a group of vampire-like immortals who feed off the "shine" of children, lead by Rose the Hat (played by Rebecca Ferguson).

To protect Abra, Dan takes her to the abandoned Overlook Hotel for a final showdown with Rose the Hat and to comfort his past demons one last time.

Special Features include:
  • From Shining To Sleep - Author Stephen King and director/screenwriter Mike Flanagan look back at the original novel and classic film to discuss how they took on the sequel.
  • The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision
  • Return to the Overlook

Final Thoughts

Doctor Sleep didn't do too well at the box-office for many reasons. I didn't get a chance to see it on the big screen as the film never came to my small town's one-screen theatre. It received mixed feedback from viewers. People who were only familiar with Kubrick's movie didn't care for it very much but readers of King's original novel and its sequel seemed to love it.

Director and writer Mike Flanagan also adapted Gerald's Game for Netflix, so my expectations for Doctor Sleep were a bit high. I'm happy to say the film succeeded all my expectations. Flanagan stays close as possible to the original source and at the same time pays homage to Kubrick's 1980 film. Yes, there are many changes from the novel, especially the ending which is similar to The Shining novel, but none of them bothered me a bit as it helped the narration.

The acting from the entire cast is amazing, with Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, and Kyliegh Curran being the standouts. Carl Lumbly does a good job playing Dick Hallorann, who appears as a spiritual guide for Dan Torrance.

The recreated scenes from The Shining are well done and I'm glad the director decided to recast characters instead of using CGI. The musical score is creepy as hell and there are a few nods to The Shining's theme.

The Director's Cut is nearly 30 minutes longer than the version shown in the theatres. The film is divided up into chapters with a few extended scenes, which adds a little bit of depth and motivation for the characters but it doesn't change the overall story; though I do prefer this version better.

The picture and sound qualities on both discs are superb. There are some decent behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Doctor Sleep is an amazing adaptation of Stephen King's novel and serves as a good follow-up to Kubrick's classic horror flick.

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