‘The Stand’ Review: A Sprawling Apocalypse Epic That Trips on Its Own Ambition

‘The Stand’ Review: A Sprawling Apocalypse Epic That Trips on Its Own Ambition

The CBS All Entry adaptation of The Stand’s biggest concern is The Stand itself. Stephen King’s distinctive novel is definitely two epics in a single; the story of how humanity was dwindled all the way down to some thousand survivors by a lethal sickness nicknamed Captain Journeys, after which the story of how these survivors are pulled proper right into a post-apocalyptic battle between pure good and evil. It’s an absolute brick of a information you can probably use to sink an airplane supplier, following not lower than a dozen important characters and tons of diverging paths, exploring themes that adjust from non-public accountability to the literal existence of God. Any adaptation has its work scale back out for it, is what I’m saying, nevertheless the place this latest attempt from Josh Boone and Benjamin Cavell stumbles—or, uh journeys—is its ambition. It gamely makes an try and cowl every elements, abruptly—utilizing a Misplaced-like flashback building to take motion—nevertheless ends up diluting two sides of the equivalent Apocalypse. There’s rigidity proper right here, along with a stellar strong and various actual jolts, nevertheless it is all packed proper right into a physique too crowded for anyone issue to land.

CBS’ The Stand primarily takes place 5 months after Captain Journeys decimated humanity, and a bunch of survivors have gathered in Boulder, Colorado after receiving dream-guidance from the magical Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg). Purporting to be a messenger of God, Abagail anoints 5 people to steer the group: Texas oil rig worker Stu Redman (James Marsden), pregnant scholar Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Youthful), constantly-vaping professor Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear), aspiring rock star Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), and deaf drifter Nick Andros (Henry Zaga). However, over the mountains and all through the desert, a shadowy presence named Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) is amassing his private following in Las Vegas, one with decidedly a lot much less Christ-like intentions for the tip of the world.

The Stand is at its biggest when it’s working to grab the surreal horror of the institutions you are taking for granted blinking out one after the opposite over the course of a month. The sequence’ second episode, “Pocket Savior,” is the simplest of the 4 I’ve seen, because of director Tucker Gates leans a lot much less on exposition and further on the bizarre visuals of societal collapse. An individual in a hospital gown wandering by Central Park, munching on a bag of potato chips. A flock of birds feasting on an NYPD horse. Flaming rest room paper falling from the second floor of a jail facility like sparks off a seen. The Stand builds a wierd, dreary vibe for itself early, helped drastically by the precise reality the seen FX workers turns the bodily aftermath of Captain Journeys proper right into a mucus-y, pus-covered horrorshow.

Whereas the current’s back-and-forth building in no way pretty collapses, it does flip right into a bit untenable for anyone who will not be already well-versed inside the plot of the information. After 4 episodes, there’s nonetheless no precise sense of how the group in Boulder obtained right here collectively, or what unites them furthermore a obscure, undefined devotion to Mother Abagail. It’s onerous to really take care of this rising strong of characters you barely know, and harder nonetheless when practically every dialog or sideways look launches into one different flashback to an apocalypse that may also be pretty obscure and undefined. (Sadly, like many TV dystopias sooner than it, The Stand largely illustrates its end-times by sexual assault.) As soon as extra, Misplaced’s prolonged shadow hangs heavy over The Stand, nevertheless the place that sequence not lower than used its once more, forward, and sideways leaps to assemble a method of thriller, The Stand primarily builds confusion. You feel unmoored, nevertheless not in a gratifying method; merely in the way in which during which the place you might be begging a gift to focus on one timeline at a time.

Happily, a extremely unbelievable strong carries you through the structural wonkery. Owen Teague could be very chilling as Harold Lauder, a primary King villain whose rubbery, smiling face hides a extremely disturbed ideas. (Harold tapes a picture of Tom Cruise to his mirror, and Teague does a improbable job perverting the actor’s real-life sense of manufactured enthusiasm.) Skarsgard, though, is the precise horrific highlight as Flagg, launched with the light faucet of boot heels on picket and the whistle of Billy Joel’s “The Stranger.” I truly love the way in which during which The Stand frames Flagg, utilizing Skarsgard’s sheer tallness, having the actor normally crouch or stoops into the shot. His line provide, though, is suitably bizarre, the sound of a devil whispering in any person’s ear. “I’m precise, bay-beeee, precise precise,” Skarsgard purrs in one amongst his first appearances, sounding like any person slipped Al Pacino in Heat an Ambien. I swear it’s a reward.

The strong should be good, though, because of the whip-dash sort of the development normally makes their character’s alternatives actually really feel like unrealistic leaps. Or, inside the aggressively unfortunate case of Frannie Goldsmith, they don’t truly make alternatives the least bit. The side-lining of Frannie is a big miss for this adaptation; one among many driving forces of the novel largely exists proper right here to make clear the actions of Harold Lauder, Frannie’s obsessive “good man” admirer. One in every of many information’s most devastating scenes, whereby Frannie has to wrestle with bringing her father’s corpse out to the yard to be buried, is principally handed over proper right here as a quick gross-out gag.

And that, truly, is CBS All Entry’ The Stand in a nutshell. It is efficient TV horror, it’s a recognizable dystopia story, nevertheless practically nothing hits as onerous as a result of it’d. I watched these episodes in the midst of an precise pandemic—and I suggest precise, bay-beee, precise precise—anticipating to get knocked on my ass by it, nevertheless as a substitute found a fairly commonplace amount of thrills. The Stand is clearly coming from a creative workers that cares a improbable deal regarding the provide supplies, and in addition you do actually really feel that affection in every physique. (Which might be why King himself signed on to write down down the finale.) However it is moreover the sort of affection that leaves big elements of The Stand struggling to breathe.