All the Bones in the Bag

A&E wrapped up their production of Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” last night, a four-hour, two-night mini-series starring Pierce Brosnan.

It’s always hard to make entirely fair comparisons between a novel and a filmic adaptation.  This is made ludicrously more difficult when the novel is a whopper, like King’s “Bag of Bones.”  A film or mini-series will, naturally, lose a good deal of the layers, the texture, the depth.  This is true whether the adaptation is remarkably good (The Lord of the Rings) or god-awful (IT, to name another King adaptation).

“Bag of Bones” struck me as unduly thin.  Brosnan gives a fine performance as Mike Noonan, but he’s hobbled by a script that never seems to dig deeply into his character.  He’s likeable, but too many of his emotions seem manipulated and well-rehearsed.

Director Mick Garris gets a good deal of King’s novel into the show, but the result, instead of depth, is a feeling of being spread (as a hobbit once put it) like butter over too much bread.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure how else Garris could have done it.  King’s novels often seem like they could be judiciously cut, and only in post-production do directors often realize they’ve not excised the flab, they’ve gutted the story.  But going for broke, as Garris attempts here, requires even more space than the four-hour format gives him.   Maybe if he had eight hours…

All in all, “Bag of Bones,” while having its weaknesses, is still better than a fair amount of King adaptations.  It’s a far cry from “The Shawshank Redemption” or King’s brilliant mini-series “Storm of the Century,” but it still ranks out above weaker attempts like “Dreamcatcher” and “Children of the Corn 45.”

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