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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
"The dogs are not barking."
DVD ReviewOnce upon a time, I was an avid reader of Stephen King, voraciously consuming his works as quickly as possible. I came to the personal conclusion that, while he's written some very good novels, his strongest talent lies in short stories, which I highly recommend to all. Of course, King's stories, short or long, are endlessly interpreted into films—some good; most bad. I was perplexed, however, when The Langoliers became a television mini-series, because I had assumed it a story that could not be properly filmed. Intensely psychological and dependant on the individual reader, I couldn't see how it could be achieved. Writer/director Tom Holland gets credit here for doing so much with an amazingly low budget, proving me somewhat wrong, but The Langoliers remains a story best told on the written page.A normal, everyday flight leaves the airport at Bangor, Maine one evening, headed out for Boston. The passengers are an odd assortment of people, but one that's just like any flight. Shortly after take-off however, passengers who were sleeping awaken to discover that there is only a handful of people left on the plane. Everyone else has vanished, and the only ones left are those who were asleep. Luckily, an airline pilot, Brian Engle (David Morse) is among these people, and he attempts to contact an airport and land the plane. The problem is, no one responds and the Earth, from what anyone can tell, is deserted. Something strange and very radical has happened to the plane in mid-flight, and now this mixture of passengers must figure out exactly what it was. It is this mystery that drives the story along, and to say more would give away the twists and turns this idea takes.Keeping in the theme of the original story, each passenger represents a distinctly different personality type, but this works both for and against the film. The people tend to be a bit exaggerated, and the most crucial and important character, a young blind girl, isn't terribly convincing. By far the best performance is David Morse, who manages to be the most believable person, able to keep his cool while remaining be open-minded about the predicamentthey're in. Most of the actors wander between acceptable and ridiculous roles, but the worst offender is Bronson Pinchot aa Craig Toomy, a wealthy, pushy businessman. He goes a bit overboard as the psycho bully, although he's generally kept on a leash once the film gets going. Unfortunately, this uneven acting terrain makes a three-hour movie a little hard to get through, and at that length, the cracks show through.Although Langoliers makes good use of the psychological angle of the story and manages to be pretty creepy at times, the extremely low production values make it tough to really get into. The special effects are, in a word, awful. Even the simplest things that could have been taken care of with some stock footage are, instead, rendered with extremely poor computer effects. As I previously mentioned, Langoliers is a story that is difficult to visualize to a certain extent; so, to make it watchable, the effects need to really sell the surrealism. Sadly, they're laughable at best, which kills the suspension of disbelief. If anything is deserving of true praise, it's the generally strong script by Tom Holland, which translates the story well without too many changes. At three hours, it's much longer than it needs to be, but the time is wisely filled by intellectual elements, making it a 'thinking' horror/sci-fi production in many ways. It's worth taking a look at, but does not really measure up.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: For a full-frame image, Langoliers is decent, but has some problems with compression artifacts in certain scenes. There's some shimmer and background haziness, as well as color bleeding. It isn't major, and corrects itself over time, but its continuous appearance is slightly annoying.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The soundtrack is presented in basic stereo, and functions well for the most part. Thereare very few large effects or directionality, but the dialogue and all important elements areperfectly clear. The minimal music is nicely represented, but the track doesn'tdeliver any kind of major experience. There were no surround effects.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 49 cues and remote access
Extras Review: There are no additional features on this disc save for basic menus and functionality. Onthe positive side, the 49 chapter stops offer a good division of the film's three hours.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThe Langoliers is, at the very least, an entertaining thriller with a nice, surreal edge. The major problems with its execution are frustrating, but not completely fatal. Tom Holland would later translate Stephen King's Thinner to the big screen with far more positive results.
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