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What Make The Critics Of
A&E’s New Stephen King
Miniseries BAG OF BONES??

I am – Hercules!!

A&E’s new miniseries “Bag of Bones” comes to us from director Mick Garris, whose Stephen King resume includes also adaptations of “Sleepwalkers,” “The Stand,” “Desperation” and the Steven Weber TV version of “Shining.”

King’s 1998 novel follows a rich novelist (Pierce Brosnan) who seems to be getting advice from his late wife (Annabeth Gish) as he helps a young widow (Melissa George) in a custody battle with her son’s weathy grandfather (William Schallert).

HitFix says:

... the role, and story, don't especially play to Brosnan's skill set. There are long stretches of the story where Mike is on his own, crying, or yelling or trying to talk to the various ghosts, and it turns out that loudly emoting to thin air isn't one of Brosnan's strengths. King famously figures out most of his stories as he goes along, which means his books often have great beginnings and forgettable or awkward endings. "Bag of Bones," especially this adaptation of it, doesn't have the benefit of the great start. It's never clear what the story is really about, or how its many pieces fit together. It's just a collection of creepy imagery, lots of screaming and the occasional musical number for Anika Noni Rose. Not that I mind getting to hear her sing; I'd just rather it was in the middle of a much more interesting story. ...

The New York Times says:

... Handsomely shot and deliberately paced, it has a superficially cinematic quality, but it doesn’t have the storytelling juice to keep you engaged in Mr. King’s convoluted multi-ghost story. ...

The Los Angeles Times says:

... Although it is far from the worst King adaptation (would that be "Dreamcatcher"? "Lawnmower Man"?) it feels less like a ghost story than a dashed-together homage to the King oeuvre that's slow where it should be fast and fast where it should be slow. ... The original sin at the heart of "Bag of Bones" is a powerful one, but by the time it is revealed, in a shamefully Scooby-Doo-like way, you're more than ready to get off the ride.

The Chicago Sun-Times says:

‘Stephen King’s Bag of Bones” is a bag of something, and it ain’t bones. … boils down to a hokey horror story that relies on cheap tricks — nightmares! sudden bursts of loud music! animal in the attic! — to deliver most of its chills. Worse yet, some of the characters are so cartoonish, they’re more “Scooby-Doo” than Cujo. …

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... If Sunday's episode is dull, Monday's conclusion is laughably bad …

The Washington Post says:

... a deplorably dull two-night miniseries … an unfortunate reminder that the man who is credited for inspiring horror film classics like “The Shining” has also attached his name to many more duds. …

The Boston Herald says:

... doesn’t have the terrifying scares viewers have come to expect from the prolific author. ...

The Boston Globe says:

… they don’t bother with details or substance. That might take a few interesting, sensitively written scenes, of which there are none in this miniseries. Even the story’s central violent event, which arrives in part 2, is handled without any emotional impact or logic. Like everything else in A&E’s “Bag of Bones,’’ it is hollow and - boo! - not scary.

TV Guide says:

... This is a far cry from the ridiculously lurid supernatural shenanigans churning the bloody waters every week on FX's American Horror Story, with its shock-for-shock's-sake graphic overkill going so far over the top that it becomes more silly than scary. If Horror Story evokes cringes and giggles, I'm afraid Bag of Bones goes too far to the opposite extreme of the spooky spectrum and provokes mostly yawns ...

USA Today says:

… at least, Bag of Bones can claim consistency: It starts slow, moves slowly and goes nowhere. …

Variety says:

... bad to the Bones. 

9 p.m. Sunday. A&E.

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Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 11, 2011, 8:14 a.m. CST

    The one King book of the 90s, I thought would be simple to make.

    by shutupfanboy

    I am going to take the reviews with a grain of salt since this story is a more traditional ghost story. Comparing it to American Horror is a bad idea since its nothing like it. When I read Bag of Bones, I thought of any book, I could easily turn into a film when I was a Communications student, this was it. Its a rather simple story with not a lot of special effects.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 8:25 a.m. CST

    When's SK gonna learn Mick Garris sucks

    by tangcameo

    And stop casting the cast from Wings in every other adaptation. Mick Garris blandly boils every SK 'miniseries' down to a comic book for tv. REALLY wish HBO or AMC or Showtime would get ahold of one of those books Garris wrecked and put some life and true horror back into it.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 8:49 a.m. CST

    Stephen King and the word: Convoluted go together like...

    by Graphix67

    Peanut butter and jelly.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:02 a.m. CST

    dissapointing...

    by redmule

    because the book was pretty good

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:03 a.m. CST

    Sounds like it should be airing on SyFy

    by Arcangel2020

    The negative reviews of this 2-part Mini-series, doesn't really surprise me. The novel itself was ok to read...was it something that should have been brought to the small screen? No, I don't think so. I mean this wasn't one of King's best novels, let alone one of them you are dying to see adapted PROPERLY for the big screen (Of course I am referring to The Gunslinger series) and considering that a lot of Stephen King's novels which have been made into movies are more misses than hits...the list of crappy adaptations is legion while the well made are extremely rare and you can probably count them on one hand. This sounds more like it should have ended up on The SyFy Channel...a network well known for airing shitty movies and equally shitty novel adaptations turned into a waste of celluloid/digital films..as opposed to a channel that has shown some quality tv programming.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:07 a.m. CST

    tangcameo- vice versa as well...

    by cocolopez

    True I gave up on him after too many clunkers- but of the books I read the last consistently good book that King put out was Rose Madder (I do like the pop-up version of Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon- only because of the pop-ups- not the weak story). Everything else was wildly inconsistent (last four Dark Towers, short story collections, books like Desperation that start out strong and then throw every King cliche into the pot (magic kid, monster vanishes at end)), everything including the kitchen sink (Regulators, Dream Catcher, Black House), or half baked (Colorado Kid). The man should really take his time with these books instead of churning them out like a machine. As for Garris- horrible director- with Sleepwalkers and Riding the Bullet being slightly less horrible than his other King adapts. Together King and Garris make a laughable coupling- they really do. Sleepwalkers at least seemed to wink at its own goofiness while Bullet seemed (honestly if I'm remembering correctly- maybe it really did suck farts out of a mule's ass) to be surprisingly more reserved than the other adapts. There has been solid King TV adaptations- the newer Salem's Lot with Rutger Hauer and Donald Sutherland- maybe one or two of those Nightmares and Dreamscapes come to mind- but ultimately there is no interest generated within me anymore when I hear of another King TV adapt- or large screen adapt for that matter. The thrill is long gone.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:22 a.m. CST

    and really I gotta say

    by cocolopez

    of all the most played out ghost movie cliches- the worst is always the finger writings on steamy mirrors or windows BEWARE THE SO AND SO- RUN NOW WHILE YOU HAVE THE CHANCE etc., it's just fucking terrible. As played out as the ghost's face in the bathroom mirror schtick and the empty but moving rocking chair or kiddie swing or drowning apparition in the water that starts corroding as it sinks. Such tired shit by now.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:37 a.m. CST

    Nah, Bag of Bones sucked...

    by Billyeveryteen

    This show had no chance.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:41 a.m. CST

    What killed the book for me ...

    by Shan

    Before I read it, a reviewer said the following: * * * * That he couldn't help but see the evil tycoon in this story as C. Montgomery Burns the entire time, which I guess kind of killed the intended effect. * * *

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Family whiner. I'm out. No msg.

    by kabong

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 10:51 a.m. CST

    The three stages of reading a Stephen King book:

    by SmokingRobot

    1) Wow, this is really interesting. 2) Well, he could still fix this before the end. 3) Jesus, what a stupid waste of time that was.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 11:05 a.m. CST

    Rooby Roo!

    by Simpsonian

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Garris sucks. Period.

    by Fievel

    I wish he'd stay away from King's work and produce shitty adaptations of someone else's books.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 12:58 p.m. CST

    Garris tried to Improve on Kubrick

    by OGREISHERE

    He has gotten what he deserved. You don't duck with the Master son.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Sorry....

    by Ender's Jeesh

    But The Shining mini was much better than the Kubrick film. You know this to be true. Just because Steven Weber was on Wings doesn't mean he didn't act the hell out of the role.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 1:52 p.m. CST

    garris doesnt get king

    by john

    not surprised that it isnt good dont fault garris, many have failed in the task...including, to a point, the genius kubrick there is a reason that carrie was one of the best adaptations....very little subtext in that story but most of king's later works have tons of subtext....he used his writing to battle and deal with his own inner demons works on the page...not so much on screen

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 1:59 p.m. CST

    King's 1998 novel follows a rich novelist...

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, you don't say...!

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Brosnan was on Craig Ferguson

    by gotilk

    Last night or a couple of nights ago (DVR'd) and he didn't seem very enthusiastic about it all. When the main actor involved seems to avoid talking about the thing he's promoting, it always tells me it's most likely terrible. He was a good guest though, at least.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Yes I like the miniseries more than Kubrick BUT

    by tangcameo

    Weber was not that good. There wasn't much range when he played the loving father/husband, the drunk and the hotel-possessed lunatic. If you intercut that Nightmares & Dreamscapes episode with the miniseries or several other roles, you wouldn't notice much of a difference. The kid was right out the cute child actors catalog. And some of the lighting and sets were positively cartoonish. On the other hand... Rebecca De Mornay was still HOT. If miscast. Van Peebles was a pretty good Hallorann and got more to do than Crothers ever did. Filming it in the actual Stanley made it come to life. I have it on DVD and watched part 1 Saturday morning.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 3:05 p.m. CST

    Cocolopez - I agree!

    by tangcameo

    In the last twenty years King went from Horror to sentimental magical realism. I did like Duma Key until he couldn't figure out an ending. I LOVED the crystal gate scene in Wizard & Glass (more vivid than the rose in the empty lot in NY). And I think the dead kids in Black House was the closest King has ever got to his raw horror of the 70s and 80s. My favourite novels of his were written in the coke and alcohol fuelled years. Didn't he start going to AA/NA sometime between DT3:Wastelands and Needful Things? But whatever edge King has lost in the last 20 years, Garris manages to leech more out of SK's work when he films it for TV.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 3:26 p.m. CST

    garris' the shining was all subtext

    by john

    its like he decided that the audience was too dumb to understand that the novel was really about the horrors of child abuse and alcoholism (the latter was the demon king was fighting, dont know if he ever really physically abused his wife or kids, but im sure he did emotionally) what was left out was the horror same with the stand where the hell was the horror?

  • Can't speak for Garris' other work, but I thought he did a great job on The Stand. There were some powerful scenes in that series, beginning with opening montage and Steadicam tour of the dead bio-weapons lab workers, accompanied by BOC's "Don't Fear the Reaper". It featured solid performances by Gary Sinese, Adam Storke, Miguel Jose Ferrer, Ray Walston, Ruby Dee, etc. Especially loved W.G. Snuffy Walden's wonderful score.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 4 p.m. CST

    tangcameo

    by cocolopez

    yeah- and you know it's funny... you'd think that in ones drugged out years they'd be writing some far out outlandish shit- but King wrote his most focused works during that time- and started writing his most outlandish shit when he sobered up. I do think there were some clunkers in his earlier career as well- Cujo (does anyone remember how RUSHED the ending of that book was?) and Salems' Lot come to mind- but for completely different reasons. Look at Philip K Dick- Drugged out of his mind and it shows in his books- however he kept his books down to approximately 220 pages- King's books are an easy 750 pages at least and that's when he's writing sober. As for Wizard and Glass- I found it wildly uneven- I thought the whole big flashback story was some of King's best writing- but I found the wrap-around story with Dorothy's slippers to be completely terrible. He's just too uneven. Flashes of brilliance and unquestionable crap within the same spine- DT7- I LOVED that whole Dandelo segment- it honestly creeped me out- felt like a bad dream- and then in the same book "MORDRED'S A HONGRY"- felt like a slap in the face. So fucking uneven. And yeah those endings- you know it worked in The Stand when either a talismanic object or the hand of God (literally in The Stand) appear and vanquish evil (for now) but it got really bad when he'd fall back on it for so many of his books after that. Needful Things- man that book was killer until it had the same bullshit ending. Garris lol- you remember that "Chocolate" episode he did for Masters of Horror? One of the worst pieces of dreck I've ever seen. Of course the only reason he was one of the "masters" on that show is because he put that show together. In no sane world would he be mentioned alongside some of the directors on that fairly disappointing series (the only really "horrific" episode- by Takashi Miike- was deemed too hardcore by Showtime at the time (whose then tagline was "NO LIMITS") and was dumped onto the dvd release).

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 4:39 p.m. CST

    Sounds like a waste of time.

    by skydemon

    Based on the reviews anyway. That many negatives can't be wrong. What a shame.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Alright, getting The Shining thing out of the way first...

    by Mugato5150

    The theatrical film was better. Not because Jack was scarier than the guy from Wings. Jack running around with an axe was the least scariest part of the film. No, everything else about the film was better than the mini-series. The subliminal things like the layout of the hotel. The dialog between Jack and the bartender and the butler. The not so subliminal things like the twins. The bartender. The old woman. The picture at the end. Yes, it could have done better as a 3 1/2 hour movie but it was better than the miniseries. Faithfulness to the novel doesn't mean shit. See Jaws.

  • The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, The Body, the first 45 minutes of "It". Not like they could really make a faithful film adaptation of "It". The novel did sort of end with a turtle and all the main characters running a train on a pre-pubescent girl. Therein lies King's biggest problem with his books, the ending. He can set it up but has a problem knocking it out.

  • The 2004 Film Version of Riding The Bullet is even Worse Than Maximum Overdrive. Yes Riding The Bullet is Truly WORSE Than Stephen King's only Directed Motion Picture MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE!!!!!

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:45 p.m. CST

    OH MY GOD THIS IS BORING!

    by BigTuna

    Unbelievable. What a terrible adaptation. A very old looking Brosnan getting drunk, crying and talking to ghosts.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 12:19 a.m. CST

    Kubrick fixed King's book.

    by Flip63Hole

    For the better. Much better. Hence making one of the greatest horror films ever.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 12:29 a.m. CST

    There have been three good adaptations of King

    by Queefer Sutherland

    The Dead Zone (the Chris Walken film), Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile. The rest have been crap. Fuck off if you don't agree with me.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 2:50 a.m. CST

    I like the TV version of Carrie better than the theatrical

    by sasquatch_with_a_swatch_watch

    Doesn't have the melodramatic ballet camerawork of DePalma's (which I think drags the pace of the moviedown) the acting is really understated and intense, and the pulpy TV movie underpinnings actually work great for the story But really it's a great movie because of three words: Angela Fucking Bettis. I remember Desperation being pretty dope. Also Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Seriously, I think most of the Garris films have been a mess... The anthology one with Christopher Lloyd.. I forget the name... But goddamn, The Shining, Sleepwalkers, just stop already

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 2:56 a.m. CST

    Mick Garris wrote Hocus Pocus

    by sasquatch_with_a_swatch_watch

    well he was one of the writers, but yeah... his work is realllly uneven, but if you take it with a b-movie grain of salt a lot of it is pretty good bu Sleepwalkers? it's King's love of scatalogical discharge and really really bad truck-stop humor that need to de-emphasized when doing these adaptions. Lotta fat/ good stories in the center.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Time to give somone else a crack at King miniseries'

    by performingmonkey

    Bag of Bones could have been an amazingly intense character study with ghost story elements. That's what the book felt like to me. How could it possibly be botched onscreen?? Defies sense. Garris's The Shining miniseries was okay because it was basically the book transferred to screen by King himself (though again having to hold back on the content level, grrrr).

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Barely recognized William Schallert

    by MisterManReturns

    He'll be 90 next year. I didn't care for all of the "flash cuts" in the opening. And the "dreams" are convoluted. The Canadian locations work fine, although runaway production to that country is annoying. Casting, overall, is weak. Nighttime exteriors killed by the HMIs (or whatever) - fake moonlight from all directions tends to take a bit of fear out of the woods. Granted, you can't film in pitch black, but... For those who haven't read the book - I'm sorry that A & E showed the previews that they did, as it gave away major plot elements.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 11:14 a.m. CST

    I believe I am the ONLY person that actually liked The Shining miniseries

    by Damned if I can login

    I mean, I love the film....it's Kubrick after all. For me the film was more about atmosphere, the look of things, the general creepiness of the hotel, and Jack N. as well. Also love Kubrick's camera work (POV from the kid's Big Wheel for instance). However, I had long wondered what a more faithful adaptation would be like. And I thought it was pretty scary, especially the corpse in the bathtub scene. So sue me, I liked it. An NO, I didn't get a set invitation or any cool swag, kinda like some folks (who shall remain nameless) who have made it their business to trade positive reviews for goodies.....oh, the shame....

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 1:51 p.m. CST

    “Bag of Bones” comes to us from director Mick Garris,

    by Mike Myers

    At that point I stopped reading. Garris seems like a nice guy and he did give us Masters of Horror. BUT. His King adaptions even, The Stand. Are DREADFUL IT, was ruined Tommyknockers, ruined Stand sucked. could have been VASTLY better. Shining stunk Desperation was awful Stop it Mick. Just STOP. And they ALL are just commercial break BS. 4 minutes of something. 20 minutes of commercials. 2 minutes of something interesting at the end of each night. JUST STOP.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 2:30 p.m. CST

    queefer...at least four

    by nofxstarsfan

    as mugato5150 mentioned The Body (Stand by Me)

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 2:47 p.m. CST

    I count at least 10 good adaptations...

    by Flip63Hole

    1. The Green Mile 2. Stand By Me 3. Misery 4. Carrie 5. Dolores Claiborne 6. The Dead Zone 7. The Mist (wasn't a fan of the ending) 8. The Stand (Garris made for TV cheese, but could have been worse) 9. Salem's Lot (1979) 10. Christine 11. Pet Semetary 12. Firestarter (hasn't aged well, but good 80's King fun) 13. Children of the Corn (same as Firestarter) I love Kubrick's The Shining but it isn't much of an "adaptation"...

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 2:48 p.m. CST

    And oh yeah, Bag of Bones was an emgarrisment...

    by Flip63Hole

    Not too excited for part 2 tonight. Such a missed opportunity. Bad casting, terrible pacing and tone, some lame, unneeded changes to story, some cheesy attempts at scares. Damn you, Mick Garris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 4:03 p.m. CST

    I liked "Secret Window" (2004)...

    by MisterManReturns

    ...from King's novella "Four Past Midnight: Secret Window, Secret Garden."

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 4:16 p.m. CST

    The TNT "Nightmare & Dreamscapes" version of...

    by MisterManReturns

    "The Road Virus Heads North" (2006) is horrible. The short story is really creepy - one of my favorites from King - and they really screwed it up. I'd be curious to see the short from 2004 - part of the "Dollar Baby" project. Just checked King's web site - mentions an audio release of "Mile 81" - another car thing. Then the musical "Dark Brothers...", etc. I do want to read "11/22/63" - already optioned as a feature...

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 6:10 p.m. CST

    11/22/63

    by atan0669

    Outstanding read; clear King did his research on the subject matter and uses it to frame an excellent multi-layered story. It is at its best as King paints the protagonist's view of American life in the 21st century compared to the mid 20th. A movie? Maybe... Biggest issue with filming King is capturing what makes his novels so readable; deep characters and settings with rich backstories. I do agree Mr. King does need to work on his endings but I feel in the case of this novel, I felt quite satisfied with the resolution. Well worth a Kindle purchase.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 6:28 p.m. CST

    The myths of King's endings

    by Tim

    He has THREE or FOUR books at most where the ending is sub-par. Honestly, just look at a list of his, what, 40 or so novels and break them down. Most of them have great, memorable, satisfying endings, the best of which is Christine, which had the best ending I've ever read.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 9:35 p.m. CST

    Anyway, this second part is horrible.

    by MisterManReturns

    They totally fucked up the trailer scene from the book.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 10 p.m. CST

    WHAT? Damn, that was bad.

    by MisterManReturns

    OK, I forgot the book. Does he end up drowning the kid in the end? Seriously, that ends up ranking as one of the worst King adaptations ever.

  • Dec. 13, 2011, 7:03 a.m. CST

    I kind of expected it to be that bad

    by tangcameo

    It was directed by Mick Garris and filmed for a tv channel who's crown jewels are Dog The Bounty Hunter, Hoarders, and Storage Wars. There is no pride or intelligence in basic cable television anymore.

  • Dec. 13, 2011, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Shining & The Stand mini-series were terrific -- this was crap

    by Dursman2000

    Most of Garris' adaptations have been, but I disagree strongly that THE STAND was crap. Certainly worked for me and had some amazing moments. THE SHINING also functioned as a superb adaptation of King's novel, which IMO was so much better than Kubrick's movie. Yes technically Kubrick's film is a tour de force but emotionally its bankrupt because Nicholson is crazy the second he steps on-screen. There's no sense of horror as he goes nuttier and nuttier, nor is there any point to the story. It's like Kubrick literally ripped the heart out of King's book. BAG OF BONES, though...yep, it's shit. I tried watching it on my DVR and it's just so horrible.

  • Dec. 13, 2011, 2:58 p.m. CST

    I found the book to be a bit dull also,

    by frank

    though it picked up a bit towards the end. Not one of the more memorable King books, imo. I get the impression that he is really proud of it, though. There are other unadapted books of his that I would have rather seen made into miniseries.

  • Dec. 13, 2011, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Ghost Story

    by Dr.007

    Peter Straub ought to be suing for this thinly veiled remake of Ghost Story. Check that movie out for a better - and shorter supernatural revenge tale.