I’ve already written one mostly spoiler free commentary about the new CBS mini series version of Stephen King’s The Stand. Now that the final episode is out I can give another mostly spoiled free review that briefly covers the whole thing.
I’m trying to stay spoiler free, but I can’t guarantee success. If you want to watch the series and you don’t want even vague hints at how it goes then you should stop reading now.
Okay, kids. Here we go.
The best part of The Stand is that it’s over. Good lord this series is awful. Just terrible. Like, I’ve read the book (both the original and the expanded versions) multiple times and I can’t even begin to imagine how they could have missed the mark so thoroughly and completely and massively screwed up such a fantastic story. The level of awful cannot be overstated.
The first half of the book is the world falling apart. The second half is putting it back together while the good guys face off with the bad guys. In the series it opens up in the second half of the story and gives a few flashbacks to the first half. It basically skipped everything you wanted to see. In the book the good guys congregate in one city and the bad guys in another. In the series, literally everything that happens in the bad guy city is so horribly bad it is unwatchable. The setting, the mood, the dialog, the acting, the casting, the writing, it’s all so bad it was painful to sit through. The good guy city is better, much better, but they still miss all the things that made the book so good.
The best parts of the series, with a couple of exceptions, are boring. Not bad per se, just boring and uninteresting. The exceptions being the final episode, which was mostly pretty good. We knew going in that King had written a mostly new ending. It’s not that good, but it’s okay. the other exception is Greg Kinnear who is excellent as Glen. When he’s on the screen it’s almost good enough to make up for everything else being so boring.
The worst parts of the series are so far off the mark they made me feel sick. In the book the bad guy sets up a society that is basically a police state. Law, order, peace, safety, all paid for by the removal of all human rights and freedoms. Trump would have loved it. In the movie his town is depicted as one part orgy and one part gladiator blood sport. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So instead of Flag being this menacing behind the scenes villain, he’s a pimp. They couldn’t have made it worse if they actively tried. Even the climactic ending was depicted in such an absolutely stupid way that I was thinking about offing myself so that I wouldn’t have to watch it all the way through.
All of that is maddeningly terrible, but it’s still better than whatever the hell Ezra Miller was doing. To say that his performance is the worst display of acting I’ve ever seen is possibly the biggest understatement in the history of language.
If you’ve read the book, I recommend that you never, ever try to watch this series. If you haven’t read the book, I still recommend that you never, ever try to watch this series. I don’t think it is humanly possible to tell the story of The Stand and make it worse than this. It can’t be done.