The Shining (1980)

The Shining Movie Review

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The Shining Movie Review

The Shining is a 1980 horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. This is one amazing film and it truly deserves its reputation as a classic.

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Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t

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I absolutely loved this movie. I am a big fan of the book and I have to say that the movie did not disappoint. In fact, it is one of the best adapted films that I have ever seen. Let’s talk about the plot. I honestly do not understand why many argue that the two works are so different when in reality they aren’t that different at all, at least that wasn’t the case for me. Yes, the ending is changed, but everything else is basically the same.

I really enjoyed that ending. Yes, what they did with Hallorann was very unfortunate, but that was still necessary to shorten the running time and the action and I really loved the inclusion of the action in the maze and that last shot of the film is just spectacular. The shot of that picture is instantly memorable and almost haunting. It is such an ambiguous, really unique way to end the movie and it is one of the best and most satisfying endings out there, so good.

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The Shining Movie Review

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I loved how it began and that opening is absolutely splendid in its creepy music and atmosphere. The movie does benefit from an outstanding build up. I loved the scene with the butler, that is one of my favorites here. And although I wasn’t such a big fan of the movie version of Danny, I still adored his horror scenes as those were meticulously crafted and executed. I also really enjoyed the action near the end. I really liked that the fight between husband and wife was reduced as that was much more satisfying than what happened in the book. And of course, that signature line – “Here’s Johnny!” – is instantly recognizable and such a classic film scene.

I found the characters to be very satisfying here. Yes, Wendy doesn’t look the way she should look and she is weak at first, but she becomes much more capable later on. Danny isn’t as emphasized here as in the book, but he is still solid and he has some terrific sequences here. Hallorann is okay, but I wanted much more from him not only in that ending, but before as well. And as for Jack, I honestly found his character to be the same in both works. Here he is also influenced by the hotel. He is weaker in state and mind and has his drinking and rage problems, but he is still definitely influenced by the forces in the hotel and that was greatly conveyed. I really liked his character as he was very satisfying and tragic in the end.

The Shining the novel and the movie itself perfectly accompany one another. Where one makes a mistake, the other corrects. For example, the character of Jack I found to be better in the movie, the action I also found to be more realistic and much more enjoyable and that ending I found to be a great inclusion. As for the flaws of the movie, the fact that the topiary animals were excluded here is certainly unfortunate and so disappointing as is the use of Hallorann and Danny. I wanted more emphasis on his telepathic powers.

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The Shining Movie review

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But the biggest problem this movie has apart from these comparisons has to be the acting. Yes, Jack Nicholson is quite good. In fact, this is one of his better performances in my opinion. But he was still problematic in the first half as in some instances I could see the acting. But he thankfully got better as the movie progressed. The same cannot be said for Shelley Duvall as she gave a typically mediocre, forgettable horror performance and she is the weakest link here for sure.

Stanley Kubrick did such an amazing job directing this film as this is truly his work and his vision. This is without a doubt one of the finest movies from the director. But The Shining is not only masterfully directed, but also crafted. It is one of the best looking films of the decade, that’s for sure. The cinematography here is fantastic with some gorgeous scenery to be had. I just loved the use of snow as it was so powerful, but the maze was terrific as well. The Overlook Hotel was just perfect as it was so satisfying for me to see it come alive in film. Both the interior and exterior is great here and I just loved the hotel’s Gold Room as it provided some of the best scenes here and was visually arresting. The film is just beautiful to behold.

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The Shining Movie Review

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But the score takes it to even greater heights. This is one of the best scored films of all time in my opinion as the music is mesmerizing, so intense and so powerful. It is a perfect example of how the music can increase tension in a horror flick and I just loved that repeated loud theme. The dialogue is also strong, the film is wonderfully adapted as I already said and it is phenomenally paced also. It is one of those films that are very slow, but wonderfully so as it definitely helps the build up and helps create the tension in the air. I loved how the film used music to its advantage, but how it also stayed away from it in those music-free dialogue sequences. It truly has a fantastic sound mixing.

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The Shining Movie Review

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The set design is terrific in this one, the emotion is there in its ending and the editing is great. The movie is also constantly smart and sophisticated, not to mention extremely memorable and quite unforgettable in some scenes. The tone is great as is the action and I really enjoyed it as a horror film. Yes, I forgot to mention before, but in that horror front, the movie trumps the book for me as it is much more intense and much creepier. I wasn’t frightened, but still those ghost apparitions were just superbly incorporated and all of those scenes were unsettling and visually arresting. The score helped its tension a lot, but also the camera movements as those were great and the overall execution of action which is splendid. I loved how it provided us such great atmospheric thrills and that was obvious from its opening which is one of the best horror opening sequences of all time. I loved the execution of redrum, that crazy woman was so well utilized, the butler was just fantastic and the maze was amazing. Overall, The Shining is such a great movie that sticks with you long after you’ve seen it and is undoubtedly worthy of its great reputation.

The Shining is a masterful film that has some questionable choices and acting, but is for the most part a terrific achievement due to a terrific direction from Kubrick, excellent characters, a superbly adapted storyline, an amazing opening and just brilliant ending, creepy atmosphere and absolutely wonderful score, excellent imagery and well realized action scenes. It is not only one of the director’s finest works, but also one of the best horror films of all time and a textbook example of a perfect book-to-film adaptation.

My Rating – 4.5

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Posted in 1980, 1980s, FILM DECADES, Horror, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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