×

Stephen King’s the Langoliers

Writer-director Tom Holland has pulled off the viewer-friendliest Stephen King vid adaptation since the Tobe Hooper-Paul Monash "Salem's Lot," at least for the first three hours. Pulling flesh-and-blood characters out of King's stick figures aboard an airplane zooming into a twilight zone, Holland has turned "The Langoliers" into a TV grabber. It's a loss as far as in-flight movies are concerned, but ABC's got a winner.

With:
Cast: Patricia Wettig, Dean Stockwell, David Morse, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Frankie Faison, Baxter Harris, Kimber Riddle, Christopher Collet, Kate Maberly, Bronson Pinchot, Tom Holland, John Griesemer, Christopher Cooke, Stephen King, Julie Arnold Lisnet, Michael Loudon, Kymberly Dakin, David Forrester, Chris Hendrie, Jennifer Nichole Porter, David Kelly, Stephanie Dunham, John Winthrop Philbrick.

Writer-director Tom Holland has pulled off the viewer-friendliest Stephen King vid adaptation since the Tobe Hooper-Paul Monash “Salem’s Lot,” at least for the first three hours. Pulling flesh-and-blood characters out of King’s stick figures aboard an airplane zooming into a twilight zone, Holland has turned “The Langoliers” into a TV grabber. It’s a loss as far as in-flight movies are concerned, but ABC’s got a winner.

Vidpic plummets in the fourth and final hour when the title creatures –“killer cannonballs,” as someone generously calls ’em — roll into view like animated ink blobs. Better they should have been left offscreen in the land of imagination; powers of suggestion via the actors’ faces would have done the job.

Story involves 10 airline passengers who doze off while their fellow passengers mysteriously vanish over the Mojave desert. Setting down in Bangor, Maine, the travelers find they’re in a nightmare Shangri-La where the air’s peculiar, nothing works and they’re the only living people. Director Holland, keeping the tension pumping, works the offbeat plotting for its considerable worth.

The capable cast goes through the out-there storyline at full throttle. Dependable if stolid Brian (David Morse) captains the plane after the original crew vanishes; tough, likable British enforcer Nick (Mark Lindsay Chapman) works with him to get things straightened out.

Bronson Pinchot commands a showcase role as a vicious neurotic whose horrific dad used to scare him with threats about fanciful monsters, the Langoliers; Kate Maberly’s a blind, aware child who hears and feels things others can’t possibly know about — and has a mystic connection with Pinchot’s character.

Dean Stockwell serves as a blab-too-much mystery writer explaining away lots of things. Laurel (Patricia Wettig), a schoolteacher seeking a man, encounters Nick, who instantly sharesher ardor.

Christopher Collet’s a brave youth, and Kimber Riddle plays an addict he falls for. Frankie Faison’s aboard as a blue-collar worker, while Baxter Harris, in a throwaway part, presumably is aboard for ballast.

Miniseries looks good except for those Langoliers. A visible “time rip” in the special-effects sky is colorful, if not as rapturous as Nick opines.

Paul Maibaum’s admirable camerawork is artfully composed and on target. (Blatantly ironic note: One character vomits beneath the conspicuous “Bangor Visitor’s Bureau” sign.)

Ned Bastille’s slick editing urges the action onward, while Evelyn Sakasah’s production design is good. Vladimir Horunzhy’s secure score works in tandem with the vidpic’s purpose.

Popular on Variety

Stephen King's the Langoliers

(Sun. (14), Mon. (15), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

Production: Filmed at Bangor Intl. Airport, Bangor, Maine, by Laurel-King Prods. Executive producers, Richard Rubinstein, Mitchell Galin; producer, David Kappes; director-writer, Tom Holland; based on the novella "The Langoliers," from "Four Past Midnight," by Stephen King.

Crew: Camera, Paul Maibaum; editor, Ned Bastille; production designer, Evelyn Sakasah; art director, Harry Darrow; digital visual effects, Image Design; sound, Jay Meagher; music, Vladimir Horunzhy.

Cast: Cast: Patricia Wettig, Dean Stockwell, David Morse, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Frankie Faison, Baxter Harris, Kimber Riddle, Christopher Collet, Kate Maberly, Bronson Pinchot, Tom Holland, John Griesemer, Christopher Cooke, Stephen King, Julie Arnold Lisnet, Michael Loudon, Kymberly Dakin, David Forrester, Chris Hendrie, Jennifer Nichole Porter, David Kelly, Stephanie Dunham, John Winthrop Philbrick.

More TV

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Breaking Bad

    'Breaking Bad' Movie Release Date, Title and Plot Revealed

    The “Breaking Bad” movie is coming to Netflix sooner than you might think. The film, titled “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” is now set to be released on Netflix on Oct. 11, according to a report from the New York Times, with Aaron Paul returning as the series’ popular meth cook Jesse Pinkman. Jesse [...]

  • Laurence FishburneNational Memorial Day Concert Dress

    Laurence Fishburne to Produce 'Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' Series for Disney Channel

    Laurence Fishburne is stepping into the animation game. The “Matrix” star is set to executive produce “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” an animated series which has been given the greenlight at Disney Channel. Based on Marvel’s comic book series, the show hails from from Disney Television Animation and follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • 'The Simpsons' Producers on Disney, Spinoffs

    'The Simpsons' Producers Talk Potential Disney Spinoffs, Confirm Apu Will Remain

    “The Simpsons” has never shied away from lampooning Disney over the years, but maybe that’s no longer the case. Homer, Marge and co. are of course now part of the Disney family and made their first appearance at the Mouse House’s D23 Expo convention, where the show’s producers were asked plenty of questions about what [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content