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RUNNING TIME: 189 minutes
• Commentary by writer/director Frank Darabont
• Two deleted scenes with optional commentary by writer/director Frank Darabont
• Tom Hanks makeup tests
• Michael Clarke Duncan screen test
• “Miracles and Mystery: Creating the Green Mile:” A 6-Part documentary
• “Walking the Mile: The Making of the Green Mile” documentary
• Teaser trailer: A Case Study
• Theatrical trailer
“It’s E.T. on death row with a mouse and a gigantic man-child instead of an alien.”
Tom Hanks, David Morse, Michael Clark Duncan, Sam Rockwell, Doug Hutchison, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Jeter
That other great Stephen King adaptation set in a prison. Paul Edgecomb (Hanks) presides over E Block, your typical every day Depression era death row. It’s business as usual until the arrival of mysterious murderer John Coffey (Duncan). Is he guilty? Is he innocent? Where does he buy overalls that large? The mysteries surrounding Coffey will come to affect all the lives of the guards and convicts along the Green Mile. Lessons will be learned, multiple light bulbs will explode, and a head will light on fire.
Hanks insisted on making it THAT kind of prison movie.
Frank Darabont (read Devin’s interview with Darabont here) must love a challenge, or he’s just one confident son of a bitch. That has to explain why he would fearlessly choose to follow up The Shawshank Redemption with another prison movie based on a Stephen King story. He must have known there would be unjust comparisons between the two films despite very different stories. Whatever possessed him to make this movie, I’m glad it did, because the end result is pretty damn great.
The cast is first-rate. When Gary Sinese is willing to come off the bench for only one scene, things are going well. The film is a prime example of ensemble acting. There is a feeling of great chemistry between the actors while watching the movie. Of course, all their work is eventually outclassed by a rodent, because he’s cute. The other standouts besides Mr. Jingles are Rockwell as Wild Bill and Duncan as Coffey. Rockwell steals the movie by balancing between comic relief and menacing villain. Duncan has to carry the movie and does admirable work crying and acting scared throughout the film’s three hour running time. I failed to mention Hanks, because let’s face it before Da Vinci Code he was always consistent. This time out, you get the normal solid performance, plus three scenes of him taking a piss.
Hutchison hasn’t been seen much lately, unless you are a Guiding Light fan, but he leaves a lasting impression as Percy Wetmore. Percy is a slimy bastard, one of King’s best foils. Hutchison never makes him into a caricature, instead keeping him realistic. Percy becomes that guy everyone has met at their job that elicits unbridled hate and pity at the same time. By the time he is harnessed into a strait jacket and tossed into solitary, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for such a pathetic yet arrogant person.
How David Morse reached the screen test phase for John Coffey is beyond me.
Even the secondary characters are given moments to shine. Harry Dean Stanton as Toot and Graham Greene as Bitterbuck are given more memorable scenes than some actors achieve in feature roles. Greene’s final scene with Hanks is one of the more poignant moments in the film. Bitterbuck is a character likely cut from the film by a lesser writer and director. Darabont understands his source and doesn’t compromise the story for a more comfortable running time. I have no problem with a three hour movie as long as the extra length is needed to properly tell the story. There are some omissions from the novel, but nothing to anger a King purist.
The special effects work for the most part is subtle and effective. When it is front and center, it’s adequate. The dust or bugs, let’s just call it gray shit, coming out of Coffey’s mouth is obviously an effects shot, but it’s never jarringly bad.
This is a great film that has held up well. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t seem to get the same kind of recognition as The Shawshank Redemption. Maybe it’s because one of the main characters is a mouse? More likely, it’s the subject matter. Sacrifice, forgiveness, and death is a much harder pill to swallow then hope and redemption. Perhaps, if the film had ended with Paul Edgecomb and John Coffey reuniting on a Mexican beach, it might be more highly regarded.
"And I say Bait was worse than Daredevil!"
The discs come chock full of special features. Every aspect of the film, success or failure, is covered extensively. Never-before-seen footage of Tom Hanks’ makeup test is one highlight. Also, a “lost” teaser trailer is included, along with a short documentary explaining why it was never shown in theaters. Two deleted scenes that were rightfully left on the cutting room floor can also be found. Duncan’s screen test is included, and it really highlights his development as an actor over the course of filming.
“Miracles and Mystery: Creating the Green Mile” is a 90 minute documentary that encompasses the entire filmmaking process from the adaptation, to the sets, to the effects, actors, and mice. The tricks to make a mouse run in a predetermined path are revealed as well as a discussion on the crapping habits of the animals. The most insightful segment focuses on the process of adaptation. Darabont discusses his history with King, how he acquired the rights for the film, and his methods for putting everything together in the script. It’s an educational segment for an aspiring screenwriter. Of course, the documentary heaps on the praise for Tom Hanks because we haven’t heard that enough.
"Fucking Denise. Denise the piece. Oh, you’re gonna give me that cherry pie sweet mama baby."
Only the segment focusing on King was unnecessary. Twenty minutes featuring ravenous praise for King with only a brief interview of the man himself? It’s not like he’s dead or even remotely retired. Can we please keep the loving retrospectives post mortem?
Over the course of five months, Darabont recorded his audio commentary. Overall, it’s a pretty entertaining track. He never gets too technical, in fact, it’s pretty casual in tone. Darabont includes several interesting anecdotes, the two best stories are a set visit by Entertainment Weekly and a scouting run in with John Frankenheimer. The commentary runs into a few slow spots during the middle hour, but they never last. There are some overlaps between the special features and the commentary, but not enough that it feels overdone.
Overall, for fans of the movie, I’d say give this one a rent to check out the all the new extras. I don’t think it’s worth a double dip, although the retail price is fairly cheap. If you were on the fence about owning the initially released bare bones disc, then I’d say the special features are worth a purchase.
8.5 out of 10