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Is Mr. Mercedes Stephen King’s Worst Book?

mr-mercedes

Mr. Mercedes doesn’t read like Stephen King. It doesn’t even read like Dean Koontz. It reads like Mediocre Thrillerwriter from the four books for a buck shelf.

It reads like a trunk novel from 1992 when the internet was new and scary and a rash of books and TV movies about evil little nerds plotting to kill people with super computer magic were everywhere.

And it wouldn’t surprise me if that was exactly where Mr. Mercedes is from.

The title and cover of Mr. Mercedes strain to convince you that it’s going to be another complicated ride filled with allusions building up to… forget about it.

There’s nothing supernatural here. There’s nothing any deeper than the movie of the week here.

Mr. Mercedes is the story of a battle of wits between your stock character, the retired cop still haunted by a case (divorced, alcoholic, thinking of suicide – all the cliche boxes are checked) and an updated Norman Bates who not only has a sick relationship with his mother, but also works on the Geek Squad at Best Buy and has an evil command center in his basement full of laptops with a countdown running.

And he voice controls them by saying “Chaos”.

Stephen King has written bad novels before, but never boring ones. This isn’t Christine. This isn’t The Under the Dome. It’s just bland.

The writing is bad. The characters are bland. The plot is predictable. I skipped 100 pages ahead and sure enough, the Best Buy Norman Bates had killed his mother. I skipped ahead another 100 pages and the plastic explosive mentioned early on had been used to blow up the cop’s new girlfriend.

And then I put down the book for good.

That was the first time I put down a Stephen King book without reading it through. But before King had always put in enough hooks, enough verbal special pleadings, to keep you going. Mr. Mercedes is the first time his talent completely abandoned him.

There’s nothing here worth reading.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe after 300 pages the whole thing turns into a hidden mystical battle between his shopping list and his ghostwriter.

But I’m betting it doesn’t.

If you programmed a computer to write a Stephen King novel, it might spit out something like Mr. Mercedes. It’s unimaginative. It’s so unimaginative that it doesn’t even inhabit the same space as imagination.

There are some of Stephen King’s tics here, but they come off badly. The Best Buy Bates talks like an elderly 60s racist. Really, what twenty something today says “Darkie”. There’s a young black character who keeps saying “Massa”.

It’s embarrassing to read. It must have been even more embarrassing to edit. Except that it obviously wasn’t edited.

King tried to learn something about the internet in the process of writing or rewriting this, but it just makes the basic errors and the context of it even dumber.

The cop and the Best Buy Bates spar through a supersecret connection that sounds like a housewife’s chat room from the 90s. There’s talk about vacuuming crumbs out of CPUs. The Best Buy Bates is an inventor and computer genius who never heard of a Roomba.

I don’t know why Mr. Mercedes exists.

It’s obvious that Stephen King has been having some writing problems. He put out two trunk novels recently and a few sequels. The quality has been weak, but Mr. Mercedes isn’t weak. It has no merits.

There’s no reason to read it.

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King book review

The Wind Through the Keyhole takes place between the events of Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, the worst and best novels of the Dark Tower series. But The Wind in the Keyhole isn’t a Dark Tower novel, no matter what the book cover says, it’s three nested stories, one taking place in the Dark Tower “present” of our gang traveling on to their next destination, one that Roland tells while waiting out an ice storm, the Starkblast, and a children’s story that his younger self tells in the story to a child.

the wind through the keyhole

None of those stories are very good on their own. The present frame is very brief and nothing much happens in it. Roland’s past story is the best of the bunch, but it gets tossed aside for the children’s story and once that’s done, it ends quickly and abruptly. The children’s story isn’t that good. Stephen King starts out trying to channel fairy tales but tells it in such detail and with his usual tics, abused women, evil con men, random references to 20th Century America in a fairy tale setting, that it never passes muster as a children’s story. Tim’s story is strong in places, but once the tiger and Maerlyn come on the scene, it turns into a parody of a fairy tale.

But with all that, The Wind Through the Keyhole works. It’s better than the last two Dark Tower novels, not because of its plot, but its charm. The stories aren’t very good, but they have enough world building and enough fantasy to make up for it. When he wants to be, King is still a good writer and the Dark Tower was a fantasy series that had real potential once upon a time. But King couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do with it and The Wind Through the Keyhole suffers from that same problem.

Stephen King might have turned The Wind Through the Keyhole into a full-fledged Dark Tower novel and jettisoned the Tim tale that takes up nearly half the book. It would have made for a better version of Wizard and Glass. But King already finished the Dark Tower series and trashed it while doing it. And I get the feeling that it’s really the Tim story that he cared about and that all the Roland nested stories were just a way of publishing it and selling it to a large audience.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is not the worst example of a writer selling his shopping list. It’s a pleasant book in its own way and fans of the series will want it. But what The Wind Through the Keyhole really does is remind you of what the Dark Tower series could have been and might still be.

Under the Dome by Stephen King book review

Stephen King has written bad novels before, but Under the Dome is his first novel that’s not only bad, but also boring. With a plot that has more than a little resemblance to the Simpsons movie, it’s also an idiot plot in which everyone behaves stupidly and then almost everyone dies, The End.

Under the Dome recycles most of King’s own work, from the growing alien isolation of the town in Tommyknockers to the police serial killer in Dead Zone and the rise of two post-apocalyptic factions in The Stand; it’s a pastiche of much better material from King’s own library. Which is no surprise, because Under the Dome was a trunk novel that King decided to finish and polish up, but still somehow reads like a bad first draft. Under the Dome is handicapped because it lacks King’s specialty, supernatural events. Stephen King tries to toss in an alien box responsible for the dome, and visions of disaster, but they’re an afterthought in an 1100 novel that is mostly about people killing each other and themselves.

Under the Dome wouldn’t be so bad if Stephen King had at least tried to invest something in the characters, but instead he just phones it in. The main character, Barbie, is one of those retired special forces captains who always show up in action movies when there’s a crisis. The main villain drives a Hummer, talks a lot about Jesus, runs a meth lab and just in case readers still didn’t get it, has a photo of himself with Sarah Palin. And I’ve still managed to make him sound more interesting than King does. The rest of the characters are completely forgettable, so much so King has to put a list of them after the title page, which in a novel is usually an admission that the author needs to give readers a guide to figure out who the hell these people are. Which means that no one’s really going to care anyway.

With that kind of setup, Under the Dome is a hopeless shambling mess. For 700 pages, character after character confronts the main villain in private, only to get murdered or jailed. It’s as if Under the Dome was a haunted house movie that ran for 10 hours straight, and was filled entirely with people going into the haunted house, and getting killed. And it would still be more interesting than Under the Dome was. But King can only move the plot forward by killing someone, and people can only keep dying the same way if they’re extremely stupid. That makes for an odd and boring novel, in which characters hang around for hundreds of pages, only to die pointlessly. For example King treats us to an entire subplot which has a town selectwoman going cold turkey in order to be able to confront the main villain at a town meeting. After 800 or so pages, this finally happens, and she gets out two sentences before she’s killed out of hand.

Under the Dome is a novel where the good guys are hopelessly stupid and incompetent. They’re only good because they share King’s politics and religion (Baptists show up as the villains, Congregationalists as the heroes.) Just as the villains are sociopaths without a motive, who are bad only because that’s their role in the plot. Barbie, the main character, and the one presented as competent, willingly goes off to jail, and stays there for half the novel, even when he knew beforehand that he would be arrested, forcing the rest of his gang to break him out of jail. But none of that even matters, because hardly anyone survives, and almost nothing that anyone in the novel does, affects their survival one way or another, or even matters. Even the villain only dies because of a heart problem. Our heroes survive because they beg an alien child for mercy through a mind meld with an alien Apple TV. (And I wish I was joking, but that’s the actual ending. Spoiler alert.)

You can tell that Under the Dome is a trunk novel by how dated it is, a key part of the book involves a newspaper editor desperately trying to photocopy editions of a print newspaper, even while the town has internet access. Another has a folder with damning evidence being passed around from hand to hand, when it could have been emailed to everyone in town in 15 seconds. This wouldn’t have been a problem if King had set the story in the seventies or the eighties when he originally began writing it, but instead he set in the present day, and drops mentions of YouTube and cell phones, and yet the plot revolves around the same mechanic as it would have in 1978. King dusted it off and belatedly decided to turn it into an 1100 page book about how much he hates the Bush Administration, a book proposal that would have made more sense if it had been done in 2003, not 2009.

Under the Dome is supposed to be King’s On the Beach, a grand statement about how we’re all doomed to kill each other and burn to death, unless we start doing some of the right things, whatever those are. But it’s actually an 1100 page borefest about people we don’t care about, getting killed because they have no common sense. King keeps the bodies raining down, but without any reason to care, it’s just more gore. An extended Twilight Zone episode without much in the way of the supernatural, an annoying omniscient narrator, a battle between good and evil over town politics in which both sides prove they’re too stupid to live. That’s all Under the Dome is.

The Jack McDevitt Problem

The thing about Jack McDevitt is unlike a lot of the hyped up writers like Scalzi, McLeod, Banks, Stross and Steele, he can actually both write well and tell a story (being able to do both is getting to be a rare thing with a split between writers who write poorly but can tell stories and writers who write well but don’t want to lower themselves to actually telling stories, not to mention the always popular writers who can do neither). Any of the books in his Academy series still make everything in Allen Steele’s Coyote universe look like finger paintings.

The problem is that one McDevitt novel may look great, but two look like the same novel, just written twice. Case in point, Eternity Road and Engines of God. Both are great novels on their own with a powerful and moving journey, strongly defined characters and a larger message. But despite their different settings, one in a post-apocalyptic America and one in deep space, both are really the same novel. Don’t believe me? Both follow a strong female character in the far future who with a small group of other characters begins a journey to understand cultural artifacts and recovery their meaning. Along the way many of the side characters die in clumsy and easily avoidable ways, only for the central character to reach journey’s end and discover the larger meaning of her own life and humanity’s too.

Yes those novels are old, but look at Seeker which took home a Nebula, a few years back (but then these days he almost always makes the short list), and it’s the same story again. Again we have a science fiction version of archeology. This time in a mix of Eternity Road and Engines of God, it’s deep space artifacts from an American or post-American culture. Strong female character on a journey to track cultural artifacts, etc, etc and there you have it. The same novel. Again.

I could go on and point out the ridiculously contemporary nature of McDevitt’s futures. Or his general weakness on the Science Fiction front which makes Stephen King’s claim that he is the heir to Asimov and Clarke ridiculous. (The only thing more ridiculous is Stephen King getting to decide who the logical heir to the grandmasters of Science Fiction is. Can we get Fred Pohl and Larry Niven to decide who the heir to Stephen King is?)

1408 Stephen King’s story vs 1408 the Movie

The most obvious gap between Stephen King’s original 1408 short story included in the Everything’s Eventual short story collection and the cinematic adaptation of 1408 by director Mikael Håfström is that 1408 the movie discards the most basic concept of 1408, which is not that 1408 is a room haunted by ghosts, but that the room itself is a horrific alien gateway to a creature from some other dimension that eats human souls, where the light shines like the Australian outback and whose arrival is so horrific that many of those in 1408 killed themselves in order to escape it, while those who died of natural causes, died of having their souls devoured.

Granted some of that might be hard to put down on film but it’s a long way from 1408 the movie’s hotel room filled with ghosts. In 1408 the movie ghosts themselves are the issue. In 1408 the story, there are no ghosts, not a single one. Repeated people have died in the hotel room but the closest we come to seeing any of them is when the picture on the wall changes to feature everyone who died in the hotel room depicted on a sinking ship. That’s it.

Of course none of the ridiculous antics in the movie, like a hotel room that can access the internet, chat with Mike Enslin, appear in the story. The story’s disturbing air comes from Mike Enslin’s steady derangement, followed by his final escape by setting himself on fire with a match book. Even that escape comes at a high price. In 1408 the movie, the derangement only begins occurring somewhat toward the end, and before then 1408 explodes several times over, chats with him over the phone, talks to his girlfriend, logs into his email and throws a lot of ghosts at him.

The Mist movie review

Stephen King movie adaptations have an uneven history, delivering films as far apart in quality as The Shining and Sleepwalkers. The The Mist movie postergeneral rule you can learn from this contrast is that the more liberties the director takes with the source material, the better a Stephen King movie adaptation is. When in the hands of a director willing to find his own way through the story, the difference is as great as between Kubrick’s The Shining and Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone when contrasted with the TV adaptations of The Shining or The Last Stand.

Frank Darabont however sticks pretty closely to the novella of The Mist up until the ending and its gruesome twist. He does introduce a greater role for the military portraying the soldiers as human beings and even victims, something Stephen King who is still stuck in a hippie mindset in which soldiers are demons from hell and evil (e.g. The Long Walk, The Stand, Dreamcatcher) is incapable of doing. Darabont’s Mist builds on the strength of The Mist novella, but it’s less about the monsters outside, than about how the people inside react to the coming of the mist.

Thomas Jane manages to sail through David Drayton, though he fumbles some of the atmospheric ‘horror movie’ lines about the Mist. Andre Braugher is completely miscast as Brent Norton, the arrogant lawyer neighbor of the novella. He’s too likable too early on to fit the part of the obnoxious lawyer who narrowmindedly refuses to accept the reality of the mist outside. Laurie Holden is miscast, only because she can’t act and delivers half her lines with a smirk or a sneer. Marcia Gay Harden goes all out as Mrs Carmody, but where the original Mrs. Carmody was a sinister old woman, Harden’s Carmody is a stereotypical middle aged religious fanatic inspired by a liberal watching Jesus Camp, rather than the kind of old woman people used to burn as witches. Preachy yes, scary no.

Frank Darabont does a good job of handling the suspense involved, the creatures are generally almost as nasty as they are in the novella and the creature effects are pretty good, barring the clearly CGI tentacles at the loading dock and the botched giant creature on the road. The human drama is at the core of the story and the casting of the ordinary townsfolk is pretty good. The pharmacy scene is appropriately horrific but the editing makes it too confusing in places ruining the suspense. The scene of Drayton and his passengers driving by the supermarket and everyone trapped inside is a fantastic moment and good enough to be the ending. Unfortunately it isn’t.

For better or worse Darabont chooses a Lord of the Flies ending that moves from a mass suicide to the revelation that the army has saved the day and he has killed his family for nothing. It’s certainly the gruesome shock ending Stephen King promised us and presumably it’s supposed to make us think, but an ending that completely devalues the characters’ journey is also a bad ending because it jettisons any real reason to care about what went before. As the ending now tells us, all Drayton really had to do was keep quiet, keep his head down and he and his son would have gotten rescued. And is that really the message Darabont wants to send?

1408 Movie Review

1408 movie posterAn adaptation of a Stephen King short story originally intended for his On Writing book, 1408 the story worked as a brief derangement of reality utilizing King’s trademark ominous surrealism, repeated numbers and words, 1408 the movie tries to follow suit but it’s hobbled by a hefty 104 minute running time when it only needed to be 90 minutes or so. Swedish director Mikael Håfström and screenwriters Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski do their best to fill the time but the result quickly degenerates into a cliched mess. 1408 quickly finds itself short of material reserving the best fragments of Stephen King’s short story for the end. Hafstrom works his cinematographer to the bone finding new ways to bizarrely light the scene in 1408 and the script desperately raids other Stephen King novels and stories for material. A tear jerker of a backstory is tied on to John Cusack’s character involving a dead daughter and a marriage wrecked by it, but that just drags the story down further.

The best five minutes of 1408 takes place during the confrontation between Samuel L. Jackson as the Dolphin hotel manager and John Cusack’s Mike Enslin and yet all it involves is Jackson’s character reciting the hotel’s bloody history. Nothing that happens until the very last minute of his hotel stay and then the closing scene of the movie even comes close to raising the same chills it does and that is a sad testament to the movie’s lack of scares. Room 1408 the story treated the room as a malevolent and incomprehensible force. In 1408 the movie, the room talks to Enslin’s wife via Yahoo messenger webcam, winks at him and calls him using the voice of a friendly hotel operator.

Where the story focused on Enslin’s gradual derangement conveyed through imagery, the movie throws Enslin into one bizarre maze after another, he screams, he whines but then he bounces back and finally takes down the hotel room in proper action hero style. The room’s powers verge on the silly, it folds toilet paper, it sends the image of a Michael Meyers from Friday the 13th lookalike to run up and frighten him. It showers him with water and blood, raises and lowers the thermostat, cuts off the phone and transports him to seemingly another dimension but somehow can’t shut down his wireless connection. It can however hack his laptop with a duplicate webcam of him. The final lunacy is that the room can delude and manipulate him and make him think he destroyed it when he barely scratched it, but it can’t prevent him from lighting a crude molotov cocktail and setting the room on fire to our relief and his and apparently the room’s, which has been sending him messages asking him to burn it alive. And who can blame it?

Enslin too is a fantastically dim character in the tradition of horror movie figures. He tries to escape the room by climbing the ledge before he bothers to try his cell phone and all that happens only a half hour into his stay. He continues carrying on even well past the point where it’s clear that the room can’t physically hurt him, only play mind games with him. Toward the end the room calls him up to warn him that if he doesn’t agree to commit suicide, it’ll make him relive the last hour of what is basically a bad acid trip all over again. By that point it was a more serious threat to the moviegoers than it was to Enslin.

Throughout it all you can’t help but think of the Simpsons Halloween episode that has the family trapped in a house of evil as Bart demands, “Make the walls bleed man! We own you.” Gore would have been almost welcome in 1408 but the movie is practically PG aside from the cursing which seems more like a desperate attempt to bring up the rating to the point where you might suspect something scary actually happens in it. Despite all its flaws, 1408 might not have been so bad despite its watered down premise of “The Shining in a Single Hotel Room” if it had thrown out the flashbacks and an extended illusion of escaping the room and being in L.A. which every single movie viewer knows is only a Jacob’s Ladder style illusion and focused on the terror. But even when Enslin’s hair is dusted white and he looks like he’s auditioning for Johnny Depp’s part in Sweeney Todd, his fear quickly gives way to a quip or a smirk.

1408 is horrific indeed but only horrifically tedious. It lifts cliches from half the horror movies ever made and has no clue how to properly use them. Its only truly unnerving moment comes in the final seconds as Enslin plays back his tape recording of the time there and that reel playing back is far more ominous than anything that actually happened in the room.

When Stephen King Comments on Politics, Bunnies Cry

Stephen King is a pretty decent writer or he used to be, much as he resists it he’s also a celebrity which is something that he manages to prove when he sits down with Time Magazine and begins pontificating on politics… and gets all of it wrong. There’s a reason that celebrities shouldn’t talk about politics… and Reason Numero Uno is that they’re pig blind ignorant about it. Famous people have the delusion that their opinions about politics are important or relevant. They’re not. Worse they’re usually downright stupid about 90 percent of the time.

Case in point, again Stephen King going into a rant complaining about the inappropriate attention given to celebrities over the important issues going on in the world… at a celebrity interview for Time Magazine. Relish the irony.

And meanwhile, you’ve got Pakistan in the midst of a real crisis where these people have nuclear weapons that we helped them develop.

Nice Stevie, except they developed them thanks to North Korea, not us, and then peddled the technology all across the Middle East. Stephen King is probably thinking of India whose nuclear program we are now aiding, but who can really expect celebrities to keep all those funny countries straight. Hey they’re all brown, right Stevie?

You’ve got a guy in charge, who’s basically declared himself the military strongman and is being supported by the Bush administration, whose raison d’etre for going into Iraq was to spread democracy in the world.

Yeah the problem with that is the Bush Administration is actually unwisely pressuring Musharraf to make concessions, hold elections and step down from his control over the military.

So I said something to the Nightline guy about waterboarding, and if the Bush administration didn’t think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George. I said, I didn’t think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture. And then the guy from Nightline said, “Well, obviously you’ve not been watching World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson.” But I do — I watch ’em all!

Yes sadly, just not understanding any of it. Being captured on the battlefield and stuck in prison for months isn’t torture either. That doesn’t mean the average person should experience it. There’s a reason why the people who are sitting in Gitmo or being waterboarded are having it happen to them and it’s not because they were out playing in puppies.

But Stephen King believes abortion isn’t murder. By that logic, he should actually abort a baby and report back on it. But that’s of course juvenile rhetoric, which is the only kind celebrities like King can manage.

I think there ought to be some serious discussion by smart people, really smart people, about whether or not proliferation of things like The Smoking Gun and TMZ and YouTube and the whole celebrity culture is healthy.

This coming from a guy who has an Entertainment Weekly column that consists of random ramblings about pop culture and is going on Cable TV News Networks to discuss an adaptation of a decades old novella. Celebrity culture much?

But he said to me, “If we didn’t cover cultural things, we wouldn’t be covering you and The Mist, and promoting the movie.” And I’m like, “Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan aren’t cultural.”

Uh and the Mist is cultural? It’s hypocrisy and Stephen King knows it. Rather than honestly stating that Nightline, which banished serious news along with Ted Koppel, shouldn’t be covering either Spears or The Mist, King tries to defend it.

But Britney? Britney Spears is just trailer trash. That’s all. I mean, I don’t mean to be pejorative. But you observe her behavior for the past five years and you say, “Here’s a lady who can’t take care of her kids, she can’t take care of herself, she has no retirement fund, everything that she gets runs right through her hands.”

Uh Dude, Britney has probably taken less drugs than you have. How much of The Tommyknockers complete with the attempted wife stabbing was autobiographical anyway? At the very least King has admitted to alcoholism and severe drug abuse. There wasn’t a camera following him around to see how he was taking care of his kids when he was chasing whiskeys with cocaine, but I imagine he wasn’t going to win Father of the Year. Pot, kettle, black.

I love how celebrities lecture us on the celebrity culture. Not only is the irony some sort of paradox, but they feel the need to follow it up by lecturing us on world politics, which they have no clue about. Get a job already.

Bad News for The Mist’s Expectations – Stephen King Approves of It

As everyone knows Stephen King hates the movies based on his books and stories that don’t suck, such as say The Shining and The Dead Zone and loves the ones that do suck. He even tried to remake the Shining as a TV mini-series starring the guy from Wings and some glowing furniture. He directed Maximum Overdrive, a movie about evil trucks gone bad. So it’s safe to say if Stephen King likes a horror movie based on his work, it’s a bad bad movie.

Now it seems the Mist has a new ending to substitute for the rather ambigious ending of the original The Mist novella by Stephen King, via Frank Darabont and apparently King approves of it and warns us not to “give it away.” That suggests either empty hype or a completely unnecessary shock ending, one of the overall patterns in King’s work that he has commented on is that the kids don’t die. So we can expect that as a possibility, as well as just everyone being eaten.

Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead.

Well the last 5 minutes can only do so much and spoilers are most likely to involve the death of characters. I mean I don’t see the last 5 minutes sending the cast of Half Life back to their original evil dimension. I don’t see the change as being a completely happy go lucky ending where they reach safety. Stephen King certainly wouldn’t love that, so we’re left with a final 5 minutes that may kill off all or many of the characters more so than in the novella or leave them in a hopeless situation altogether.

Spielberg’s The Talisman Not Coming TV-Ward After All?

Steven Spielberg announcing a TV adaptation he had been producing of Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman was about the most exciting Stephen King and Spielberg news there was, even if Spielberg wasn’t actually directing it of course. Spielberg had optioned the book a generation ago and the project had gone nowhere while both men moved from young to middle aged toward the river along old. Stephen King still has sorta got it. Spielberg doesn’t really anymore. And Spielberg has a terrible track record on TV. Still some of his TV projects do take off. The Talisman though may not be one of them. The series which was supposed to air on TNT has emerged as being a bit too expensive.

After all scripts were recently completed, it became clear that their execution would require a larger budget than previously allocated, sources said. The fantasy-horror project, about a boy’s quest through this world and a parallel world known as the Territories to find a talisman that will save his mother, is said to involve elaborate special effects. TNT and DreamWorks are now addressing the financial issues and looking for ways to make the series, sources said.

The problem with this is that I can’t quite see why it needs to be that expensive. Jack mainly wanders through relatively conventional locations. Those in the real world are easy enough to duplicate, those not, shouldn’t be so hard to manage. Wolf will look like a Wolf only a part of the time and Wolf makeup shouldn’t be that hard. The climax is the kind of shootout the A Team managed while barely yawning.

I don’t actually see where all the special effects come into the picture. Even if Jack’s transitions are FX backed or Wolf’s. Or even if some of the scenes in the Territories require a few effects, it shouldn’t be anything that big.

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