"The Green Mile": DVD, Blu-ray disc Movie Review

12/10/2009 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

“The Green Mile”

Directed by Frank Darabont

By Christopher Smith

If audiences could choose quality movies such as Frank Darabont’s “The Green Mile” every week, the movie world would be a better place, to say the least.

Now available on Blu-ray disc, this 1999 tale is a poignant, three-hour excursion in old-fashioned storytelling that recalls Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” in structure while nearly duplicating Darabont’s “The Shawshank Redemption” in tone.

The film has held up and it's a gem, creating a richly absorbing atmosphere while investing itself completely in characters well-defined by Darabont’s literate script and his excellent cast.

Based on the best-selling, serialized novel by Stephen King, “The Green Mile,” told in flashback, is terrific--let's just ignore the inflated running time.

The film features elements of the supernatural and a few truly grisly scenes, but it’s in no hurry to exploit those elements or King’s association with them. Instead, Darabont knows he has the gift of King’s story, which he wisely allows to open and evolve just as naturally as King did in his novel.

The film’s soul rests within its cast, spearheaded by Tom Hanks’ superb performance as Paul Edgecomb, a quiet, unassuming man in charge of Death Row in a Louisiana penitentiary during the Depression.

With the exception of the loathsome Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), a sadistic guard desperate to use the electric chair so he can watch an inmate “cook up close,” Death Row in this world is a close-knit community of likable guards, including Brutus (David Morse), the young Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), and the veteran Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn).

Together, these men, bonded by death, eventually come to witness the miracle of life through John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), an enormous, hulking black man who has been sentenced to Death Row after allegedly raping and killing two girls.

Sweet and childlike, his initials and his fate hardly subtle, Coffey eventually reveals his mystical gifts as a healer when he grabs Edgecomb’s crotch and cures the man’s bladder infection.

It’s a moment played for all its worth by Darabont, who proves, as the film builds toward its emotional climax, that he’s the perfect match for King’s better works. Like the author himself, this man knows how to tell a big, sweeping story filled with sharply defined characters. That he’s done it in one of 1999’s best films makes “The Green Mile” a satisfying walk, indeed.

Grade: A-

View the trailer for "The Green Mile" below. Thoughts?

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