Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

Welcome to Day 3 of Stephen King Movies & Day 1 of Mike Flanagan Movies! I love King & recently did a Stephen King Week on my blog and last year I did a Mike Flanagan Week for October Horror Month. And now they’re together! How cool is that?!

The last two days I’ve posted reviews of It (2017), Cell & 1922. Today I’m reviewing Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of King’s Gerald’s Game. I’ll continue with Mike Flanagan movies the next few days with reviews of
Before I Wake, Ouija: Origin Of Evil, and reblogs of Absentia & Hush (but not Oculus, since I didn’t like that one so much). 😉

Let’s talk about Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Based on Gerald’s Game by Stephen King

Starring: Carla Gugino, Chiara Aurelia, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.

My Opinion:

I think I kind of loved this movie. Oh man, it makes me so happy when a Stephen King film adaptation is done well since there are quite a few dodgy ones. I did a ranked list of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (all 43 that I’ve seen) in September. I’ve just added Gerald’s Game & 1922 to that list. You can have a look at their placement if you want but I’ll say that 1922 is pretty low while Gerald’s Game is ranked much higher than I thought it would be before watching it. Maybe I enjoyed it so much since my expectations are usually quite low for King films?

I did read Gerald’s Game but it’s one I read years ago so didn’t remember all the smaller details. I prefer it that way – I remembered it as the movie unfolded but didn’t know beforehand some of what would happen. From what I remember of the book, I liked it fine but it was a bit long. That’s the genius of Stephen King, though – who else could write a full length novel where the main character is handcuffed to a bed for 95% of it?! For a 1 hour & 43 minute movie, it worked perfectly and I was gripped the entire time. I didn’t even mess around on my phone once during the whole thing! I only do that at home, FYI – People who use phones in cinemas are wankers.

The plot synopsis probably doesn’t sound all that appealing but it’s really a great psychological character study of someone facing their inner demons & with a far more feminist theme than I realized when I read the book years ago (I was probably too young). Or maybe the movie just does a great job getting its themes across? I do think this is easily one of the best King film adaptations as far as staying faithful to the book’s central idea and really bringing these characters to life. I know King doesn’t like some of the films (such as Kubrick’s The Shining) but I’d imagine he’s very happy with this one? As for Mike Flanagan movies, I’ve now watched all his biggest ones but I wouldn’t say I’ve absolutely loved any of them. Gerald’s Game is now my definite favorite of his. Way to go, Mike Flanagan! You’ve made a fantastic Stephen King movie.

I won’t go into the film’s story too much for anyone unfamiliar with it. If you’re planning on watching it, I think it would be best if you know nothing beforehand. I think this movie has been a pleasant surprise for those wondering how they’ve made an entire story of a woman stuck to a bed. I’ll talk about the acting instead. Carla Gugino is brilliant! I’ve liked her ever since that Son In Law movie she did with Pauly Shore. Haha! There goes my movie blog street cred. I’ve just said “Pauly Shore” on my blog! Seriously, though – this had to be a very tough role and she carries the whole film splendidly. Bruce Greenwood, whose role is bigger than you might think considering that he dies right away, does well with a character we can’t quite trust while Henry Thomas is creepy as f*^k (I’m trying to not connect this film in my mind to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial! Dammit – why did they have to make Elliott so creepy?!). The young girl, Chiara Aurelia, is also very strong. I remembered very little of her role & that backstory from the book. I really liked her character & her important connection to Gugino. Okay – I just looked into it & they made Aurelia’s role bigger in the film. Wise choice, Flanagan! Especially the ending bit involving her. I’ll say her story is a theme that upsets me and one that King addresses quite often but it’s very relevant at this point in time as it’s being openly discussed more than ever. For the film to come full circle in that way was a brilliant change to make. You know what? I think this may be one of those rare occasions where the movie is better than the book, at least based on what I’ve just read online of the “book to movie comparisons” in order to refresh my memory.

I do wonder if I should re-read this book as well as Dolores Claiborne, which came out the same year & which I now barely remember at all. I read this about Gerald’s Game at Wikipedia:

“Originally the book was intended to be a companion piece to King’s novel Dolores Claiborne, with the connecting theme of two women in crisis caught in the path of an eclipse, though this aspect was greatly reduced by the time the books were published.”

I can confirm this for King fans: there’s a Dolores Claiborne reference in the film as well as several other nods to other works by King. Thank you, Mike Flanagan! You know how to keep King fans happy. I loved the references. And I admit that I love when King does his “strong women” stories. I wonder why he so often revisits these sort of themes? He must have had some good female role models in his life. It’s not something I can say I even noticed when reading his books starting from the age of about 13 but it’s something I appreciate now as a grown-up (well, physically grown-up… maybe not mentally!). In fact, I don’t think it’s something I even gave much thought until after watching Gerald’s Game and noticing the Dolores Claiborne connection. It got me to thinking about other King stories involving strong women who often have to deal with various forms of abuse. A similar favorite of mine was Rose Madder, which doesn’t seem to get mentioned often. Lisey’s Story is another one I liked a lot that didn’t seem to be one of King’s more popular books. And I can think of quite a few King short stories, such as A Good Marriage, with the same themes & strong female characters. Yeah, I think I need to revisit Dolores Claiborne as I’d probably appreciate it more at my age now.

I obviously liked Gerald’s Game a lot. Is it perfect? I suppose it has its flaws plus I think the somewhat jarring ending, if you haven’t read the story, may not work for everyone as it sort of seems to be from out of left field. It probably worked better in the book (I think it’s difficult to put some of the weirder aspects of King’s stories on screen). Or maybe it didn’t work better in the book – it seems to be a contentious ending from what I read online. Either way, all the inner torment leading up to the finale was done perfectly by Flanagan & by Gugino. I must say that this is a King story I never really expected to be adapted and am pretty amazed that such a good film has come out of it. I’m not entirely sure how non-King fans would feel about it & I admit that I may be rating it slightly too highly since I’m a huge King fan. But good King movies make me so happy! Oh, and for the faint-hearted: prepare yourself for one big gross-out moment. Yiiiiikes. And I knew it was coming! But don’t let that scare you off – It’s just one small moment that’s part of a strong psychological horror movie that delves into some disturbing themes.

My Rating: 8/10

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974), San Andreas & Pixels Movie Reviews 

Three quickie reviews today & I mean it. I’m going to try to not ramble on in my reviews anymore. I mainly just like discussing movies with people in the comments so I’m only really here to say whether I liked a film or not & then to hear what others have to say about it.

It’s an odd assortment today but I can tell you that one was really good, one was really bad but fun, and one was just really bad with a great concept it somehow managed to shit all over. I’m sure you can guess which is which…

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Directed by Joseph Sargent

Based on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this movie. I love movies from the 1970s and was happy when both this & Escape From Alcatraz became available on one of our movie services. Man it’s hard keeping track of which movies are available where, when & how – I know I’m old school but I still kind of prefer just being able to go to a video store. So, anyway – I made the hubby watch them both with me about the same time last year and they were great. Alcatraz was better and I highly recommend that one but Pelham was really good as well. No, I’ve not seen the remake with John Travolta and I don’t plan to.

If you’ve not seen this, imagine Speed set on a subway train in 1974 instead of a bus with attractive people in 1994. So, I guess Walter Matthau is kind of the Keanu Reeves in this. Gotta say I prefer Keanu (he was such a hottie in Speed). Actually, I found Matthau a bit distracting but he was probably the only thing I didn’t really like about this as he just seemed out of place. Robert Shaw was great as one of the hijackers, though! I think I’d only ever seen him in Jaws before this (which he’s AWESOME in). All the hijackers were great & I loved all the drama on the train. The only times the movie dragged a little were when we got away from that action and back to the cops & Matthau’s character dealing with the hostage takers’ ransom demands. Overall, though, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three is a great 70’s action thriller I’d definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of this sort of genre.

My Rating: 7.5/10

San Andreas (2015)

Directed by Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

My Opinion:

Ha! This movie was so bad. But it was “fun bad”. It was exactly what I think we’ve all come to expect from these cheesy disaster movies so, therefore, I kind of enjoyed it. It’s utterly ridiculous. Some random people get saved at the last minute, which is supposed to make the audience all cheer while thousands of others are sucked into the Earth to their deaths. Never mind those people as long as a girl with big boobs & a dog get saved! Actually, San Andreas didn’t pull the “save the dog” trick. Damn – I always laugh out loud when the dogs get saved…

Alexandra Daddario wears a shirt over a tight tank top which, conveniently, has to he taken off & used as a bandage or something. I don’t remember. But this is just in time for the coming flood which will see her submerged in water while wearing the tight tank top, of course. She’s ended up with a somewhat dorky boy her age who can’t believe his luck at being in an earthquake with such a babe and his little brother who I realized was Rickon Stark. Then they had to run from the earthquake while Kylie Minogue shot arrows at them. Okay, not really but that would’ve been funny. But Kylie Monogue was seriously in this. WTF? Not for long, though – she falls out of a building. Sorry! That’s not really a spoiler since she’s a bitch & this film follows the disaster movie rules of “If you’re an asshole, you die”. Then Dwayne Johnson dies. HA! Just kidding! Of course he doesn’t. He’s not an asshole – he’s the hero! Can you believe that this is the only Dwayne Johnson movie I’ve ever seen??? Oh yeah – and I totally forgot that Paul Giamatti was in this in a completely pointless role. I guess we all gotta pay the bills, huh? And, let’s see… Dwayne Johnson & Carla Gugino (Alexandra “tight tank top” Daddario’s parents) are divorced because they have a tragic past that tore them apart but now they have to work together to save their daughter and THE END IS A COMPLETE SHOCK THAT I DIDN’T SEE COMING!!!! Lol. Just kidding. Predictable disaster movie bullshit every step of the way. GOOD! That’s exactly what I wanted & this movie delivered. Fun bad! But still very bad… 😉

My Rating: 5.5/10

Pixels (2015)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Based on Pixels by Patrick Jean

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

My Opinion:

When I found out they’d be making a full length movie of the fantastic Pixels short film, I was excited. It’s such an awesome concept & the short is great. What could possibly go wrong, right? Holy shit – how did they manage to mess this film up so completely?! You can watch the (far superior) short film HERE.

I actually don’t hate Adam Sandler like I know a lot of people do. He’s been in plenty of movies that are complete & utter shit but he’s also been in several that I liked okay. He’s from “my” era of SNL and, overall, I don’t really have anything against him. But I worried like hell when I heard that this would be an Adam Sandler film & thought “well, maybe it will have decent writers & he’ll just star in it”. Nope, this is an Adam Sandler movie. It’s not the worst of his worst: it’s one of the “mediocre” Adam Sandler movies. But that’s not what this should’ve been! There was so much potential here to make a decent movie out of that brilliant short and instead they decided to make The Waterboy version of Pixels. Pixels Gilmore! Pixels Madison! Pixels Nicky! You Don’t Mess With The Pixels! I Now Pronounce You Pixels & Larry! 8 (Bit) Crazy Pixels!

This movie was such a massive disappointment. Sandler is actually fine, I guess – he’s far less annoying than the other characters. Kevin James plays the most unbelievable President Of The United States in the history of film. Peter Dinklage is, sadly, just plain embarrassing. Not only did this movie piss all over the short film but it also managed to somewhat destroy one of the greatest Game Of Thrones characters for me! Rickon Stark was better in San Andreas. Oh, and that reminds me: Sean Bean has a small role in this too. How could I forget Ned Stark being in this as well?! Because the movie is forgettable, that’s why. Michelle Monaghan, unsurprisingly, plays Sandler’s usual paint-by-numbers love interest. Q*bert plays a character WHO TALKS. What the @!#?@! That really annoyed me. Wreck-It Ralph got Q*bert right! Wreck-It Ralph got a lot of things right. That movie has really gone up in my opinion over time & Pixels made me appreciate it even more. Watch the Pixels short & watch Wreck-It Ralph. Watch any of the movies in my list of My Top Ten Video Game Movies. Then watch The Wedding Singer if you want to watch an Adam Sandler movie because that one is good. Then, if you really MUST satisfy your curiosity, watch Pixels with extremely low expectations. After all my bitching, I should give this a lower score but I’ve seen movies that are worse and I have to admit that one cool thing came out of watching this: it got my daughter very interested in classic arcade games. That alone made the movie worthwhile but, dammit, I really wish it had been good.

My Rating: 5/10

**The soundtrack for Pixels predictably features songs that you just KNOW Sandler chose from his own collection of personal favorites. The main song featured was Cheap Trick’s Surrender: