Generally considered one of the best horror films of all time, "Shining" may end up in that catagory, but I'm not sure if it's one of the best films that Stanley Kubrick has ever directed. The film opens with Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) taking a job at the Overlook, a giant mansion that sits atop of a snowy mountain. There's a period during the year where the hotel becomes impossible to get to because heavy snow blankets the road in. There's no way out and only those who can stand the isolation would be fit for the job. Jack is working on his new novel, so he believes he'll be able to stand it.
He gets his family (Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd) and heads back in. The day that they arrive is the last day that the place is going to be open, and everyone's heading out. Danny(Lloyd) is a rather odd little boy, and the cook (Scatman Crothers) explains to him that he has what's called "shining" - sort of a take-off on psychic abilities. Although Jack first appears to be not only sane, but enjoying his new surroundings, things start to indicate that he's suddenly taking a jump off the deep end.
The film is really all about atmosphere. Some of the scenes are rather confusing and out-there, but the film remains terrifying for how tense Kubrick is able to make things with his use of visuals and music. Of course, it also helps that Nicholson provides one of his looniest performances ever, complete with some famous one-liners that are still popular to this day. It's a film that stands up to repeat viewings and remains as terrifically scary today as it was when it was first released.
On a side note, after not watching "The Shining" for a while and recently seeing the "Simpsons" parody of the film, it's amazing how well they parodied the flick. "All work and no play makes Homer a...something something."
VIDEO: "The Shining" is presented in a newly remastered 1.33:1 full_frame edition. This time, the full_frame presentation is "intended by Stanley Kubrick", so instead of going into that debate, I will move onwards. The newly remastered effort here is a fine improvement over the original edition. Sharpness generally appeared pleasant; there were a few scenes that came off as looking slightly soft, but the majority of the movie looked fresh and well-defined.
The usual problems from a film of this age didn't pop up here. Although some scenes appeared lightly grainy, none of these instances were really even that noticable. I only noticed one or two minor speckles - print flaws were almost completely absent. A few very small instances of edge enhancement appeared, but they were so minor as to be barely visible. No pixelation or other flaws came up. Colors looked excellent - well-saturated, nicely rendered and never showing instances of bleeding. A very nice transfer.
SOUND: One of the group of new Kubrick titles that has been re-mixed into Dolby Digital 5.1, "The Shining" still stays fairly close to the kind of presentation that it originally was - mono. The music opens out nicely into the front speakers and occasionally is carried by the surrounds. Surrounds also do present some minor ambient sounds, but surround use is generally few and far between.
Audio quality remained very good throughout. The score sounded fuller and richer than previously, and dialogue as well as sound effects sounded clear and never "thin" or "edgy".
MENUS:: Again, like most of the Kubrick Collection discs, there's little to the menus. A piece of the music behind the menu would have been nice.
Making Of: This is a 35 minute documentary about the making of "The Shining" directed by Vivian Kubrick, who also provides new optional commentary during the documentary. As Kubrick has been a rather private person throughout his career, it's interesting to watch one of the few behind-the-scenes documentaries about him that have ever been produced. Of course, it's also interesting to see any sort of behind-the-scenes work with Nicholson, who is incredibly funny during the proceedings, cracking jokes and generally being "Jack". Duvall, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have had as enjoyable a time on the "Shining" set and that shows during some of the sequences in this documentary. It's a pretty fascinating piece and well worth a look.
Final Thoughts: The best of the new Kubrick discs, "The Shining" has never looked better or sounded better, plus it has the most features of any of the new releases. Highly Recommended!