Dru Struzan is an artist for Hollywood movie posters who lives in a small American town. One morning he wakes up to the aftermath of what appears to have been a hurricane and subsequently heads off to the local supermarket for supplies. Once there with his young son, he meets up with various locales, just as a strange mist descends on the town.
Now I jest, as it’s actually Thomas Jane and not the famed movie poster genius whose work is curiously portrayed in the opening scene. Jane leads a d-list cast who you’ll most likely recognize from various TV shows. Some will also be familiar to fans of The Walking Dead, no big shock as the movie is directed by Frank Darabont (The Green Mile) who helped launch that popular show. This is a similar group who we get to know as they get to know one another, whilst holed up in a supermarket; a setting not that far removed from famed zombie classic Dawn Of The Dead. However, this isn’t about zombies but ‘things’ lurking in the mist. So we get stupid people going outside and meeting a grizzly end, whilst everyone squabbles, a religious loon gets people worked up, and generally they’ve all got to figure out a way to survive. An always fun concept no doubt, but let down by only passable acting and fairly limp characterization. Thomas Jane as the lead is rather wooden, especially when he has to deliver earnest and emotional lines, where he just fails to convince. Some of the other cast fair better – but this clearly wasn’t the focus here (but should have been). Thankfully we do get some nail biting and freaky encounters that although horror-lite, still pack a punch. Darabont’s direction, working from a fairly run-of-the-mill Stephen King story is well done thankfully, and he brings what feels like a hand-held camera style that helped crank up the claustrophobic tension.
With a reliance on clichés and stereotypes (yes, there’s a hill-billy whose a bit of a dick), however and some instances of very ropey CGI, the potential here mostly fell short. The ending also felt like a last ditch attempt to throw a curve ball – but fails. That being said, for typical monster movie thrills, I still managed to have some fun with this regardless of shortcomings.
I really have no clue as to why it has taken me so long to see this highly acclaimed movie. Following in the wake of Frank Darabont’s industry defining Stephen King adaptation The Shawshank Redemption, the same director tackles another King story. Originally published in a series of small novellas, The Green Mile was a sort of experiment and follows the story of an elderly man in a care home who recants his time as a prison officer in charge of the inmates on death row; specifically his time in the company of convicted double murderer John Coffey. Tom Hanks plays prison warden Paul Edgecomb and is perfect casting in my opinion, as is the late Michael Clarke Duncan as the imposing but gentle-giant Coffey.
This well shot and atmospheric movie gathers together several solid performances and a powerful, magical tale that certainly left it’s mark on me. The fate of John Coffey, the mystery surrounding two dead girls and an unexplainable ‘gift’ kept me mesmerised. Hanks is as complex and believable as always and in the closing moments truly excellent (seriously, I cant watch Hanks cry … I just can’t). It’s one of the most emotional films I have seen in a long while and yes, brought a tear to my eye. It also gets fairly disturbing in places, mainly surround the cruel character of Percy (you may recall him from his stint as ‘toobs’ in The X-Files …). But don’t let that put you off as this is one of those stories that is tragic but also life-affirming and made with real passion for it’s source material. Essential viewing.
The Blu-ray is mostly impressive. The movie itself is in fairly good condition but for a slightly smudgy colour pallet (this may be intentional) and detail overall is good, with only occasional softness creeping in on distant and wide shots. Close-up detail is often excellent. Sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is pretty decent if a little lacking in the surrounds. Yet the big plus here is the extras consisting of a feature-length documentary named ‘walking the green mile’ as well as a commentary by the director, several deleted scenes and a trailer. Not too shabby for a modern classic. Packaging could have been better though.
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