Stephen King maybe one of the United States’ most popular and well-known writers, but even though he tries to rise to an award-winning level with big stones about big issues, he never quite makes it
“The Green Mile,” which chronicles the miraculous events surrounding an innocent inmate on death row, seems to emulate John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” Both are set during the Depression, center on a character fond of a mouse, and involve one man struggling to protect another who is seemingly innocent
However; whereas Steinbeck is a master storyteller chronicling an era, King is using the past as a convenient prop for his predilection for vulgarity and sadism
Within the first 25 minutes of “The Green Mile,” the audience is presented with a sense of mysteries that will be resolved during the course of the film’s three hours
The first mystery is revealed during the opening titles, when the audience is shown, in slow motion, a hanging party looking for a killer. Who is the killer and what was his crime
Following the titles, we meet the main character of the film, ex-prison guard Paul Edgecomb, played by Oscar favorite Tom Hanks
The character, now living in a retirement home, spends his free time wandering through the lush and verdant hills One of the nurses asks him what he does out there and where he goes This is the second mystery
The next puzzle follows soon after this scene While watching “Top Hat” on television, Edgecomb breaks down in front of the other surprised residents What secret is this man hiding?
All is revealed over the course of the overly extended film
Director Frank Darabont brings Stephen King’s “The Green Mile” to the screen as he did the “Shaw shank Redemption” before it
While both stories concern a man wrongfully convicted of a crime, “The Green Mile” – a reference to the green floor of the cell block – takes a different approach Instead of letting the imprisoned one narrate the unfolding events, a prison guard mired in his routine gets to do it
This narrative approach proves somewhat interesting, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark, especially since the narrator objectifies the very characters we are supposed to have empathy for
For example, the first prisoner to he electrocuted is dispatched before we even get a chance to know him The first time he speaks is just before he takes his final walk
Initially, I was annoyed by this objectification Then I figured that this was a plot device used so that when the final execution came, it would be all the more powerful
Unfortunately, the second one was so horrifying and unsettling that the final scene failed to make much of an impact. Because the story deals with a heavy subject, you expect some form of comic relief. But most relief comes in the smutty King vanity, something that fails to dissipate the tension
The story attempts to grapple with some tough issues, but does so in a simplistic and often unoriginal way
The summation of the film is we each owe a death, there are no exceptions, but sometimes the Green Mile is so long” With this line, the story is supposed to take on metaphoric properties. Instead of the story of a repentant guard living out his penance for letting an innocent prisoner die, it becomes everyone 5 story
The mile represents the length of our own lives and the heavy burdens we carry with us before we succumb to death
Despite the fact that “The Green Mile’s” story proves some-what disappointing, the ensemble cast works its magic Hanks turns in a solid performance, as do David Morse and James Cromwell.
Sam Rockwell, who plays the masterfully evil William “Wild Bill” Wharton, reflects shades of a Gary Oldman when he was still giving moviegoers notable work.
Doug Hutchinson, who plays Percy Wetmore the sadistic guard with influential connections also deserves some mention for not descending into cliche
While Hanks has been given a lot of praise, it really should be lavished opon the excellent Michael Jeter who plays Cajun inmate Eduard Delacroix, and the colossal Michael Duncan, who plays wrongfully accused John Coffey
Kudos should also go to the trainer of Mr Jingles, the circus-bound mouse who can play fetch with a spool
Those not easily bothered by movies about the strong preying upon the weak will probably enjoy this film However, I found it all too much to take in one sitting. If you have to see a Stephen King film, rent “Dead Zone” or “Shawshank Redemption” instead Both are much easier on the nerves.
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