Friday, April 16, 2021

Doctor Sleep and all, without spoilers

Movie sequels often fail in many aspects.  Sequels that come many years after the original often fail for even more reasons.  The filming style of the original movie is often clearly a product of the time within which the movie is made. If a sequel comes much later, there's very little chance of successfully capturing the same style and general feel of the original movie.  This is especially true of Kubrick movies and their sequels.  But the sequels don't have to be failures, even when they fail to recreate the original.

Two Kubrick movies now have cinematic sequels (not including TV series).  2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) continued the story of 2001: A Space OdysseyDoctor Sleep continued the story of The Shining.

2010, briefly

2010 was a good movie.  To its credit, it doesn't appear to even attempt to recreate 2001's style and feel.  Much like 2001 was a movie of its time (1960's), 2010 was very much a 1980's movie.  However, unlike 2001, 2010 hasn't aged well, though it is still enjoyable to rewatch (if you can overlook some of the inferior special effects and filming techniques).  If you wish to see full reviews, please see 2010: The Forgotten Odyssey - A Video Essay and 2010: The Year We Make Contact Review.

Doctor Sleep

Although Doctor Sleep (2019) borrows heavily from The Shining (1980) in terms of certain imagery and plot points, it is its own movie in other ways.  Mainly, Doctor Sleep is very rewatchable.  It pulls the curtain back on some of the supernatural elements of The Shining (trying to explain them), but does so in a way that works well for the story.  Doctor Sleep actually does a much better job of character development and arc.  

In The Shining, Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson never feel like a couple.  Also, the viewer never really gets the sense that it's the hotel itself that drives Jack's character mad; characters being very one-dimensional.  Despite the praise Kubrick often gets for his movies, and the fandom of The Shining, it's not a true masterpiece in my mind.  In fact, if you compare Rotten Tomatoes (RT) scores of Kubrick's films, The Shining is actually near the bottom of the list.  Even though Eyes Wide Shut has a lower RT score, I actually think it's a superior movie to The Shining.

Table featuring the critical reception of films directed by Stanley Kubrick
YearFilmRotten Tomatoes[62]Metacritic[63]
1964Dr. Strangelove98% (91 reviews)97 (32 reviews)
1956The Killing98% (41 reviews)91 (15 reviews)
1957Paths of Glory95% (60 reviews)90 (18 reviews)
1960Spartacus93% (61 reviews)87 (17 reviews)
19682001: A Space Odyssey92% (113 reviews)84 (25 reviews)
1987Full Metal Jacket92% (83 reviews)76 (19 reviews)
1975Barry Lyndon91% (74 reviews)89 (21 reviews)
1962Lolita91% (43 reviews)79 (14 reviews)
1971A Clockwork Orange86% (71 reviews)77 (21 reviews)
1955Killer's Kiss86% (21 reviews)N/A
1980The Shining84% (95 reviews)66 (26 reviews)
1999Eyes Wide Shut75% (158 reviews)68 (34 reviews)
1953Fear and Desire75% (16 reviews)N/A

Character of Danny in Doctor Sleep is the adult version of Danny as a child in The Shining.  However, in Doctor Sleep, Danny is fully-fleshed-out character with purpose and solid reasons for doing certain things.  As with 2010, Doctor Sleep is more conventionally filmed than Kubrick movies.  But with Doctor Sleep, there is a unique style that makes it uniquely enjoyable, particularly when it explores supernatural interactions.  

The Shining has a few iconic scenes for which the movie is loved by many.  There's no question that The Shining has influenced our culture far more than Doctor Sleep can.  However, for me, I'd rather rewatch Doctor Sleep rather than The Shining.  That said, due to some of the choices made by the writer and director of Doctor Sleep, the movie cannot stand on its own in other ways.  It still needs The Shining as its foundation, due to all the callbacks and fan-service.  Even still, I wouldn't watch The Shining and Doctor Sleep back-to-back since the movies are so stylistically different; there isn't a good flow between them (even though they share some imagery).  Watch both, but watch them at different times.

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