REVIEW: 11.22.63 (2016)

11.22.63

The following is a quick review of 11.22.63 – a Hulu limited series based on the Stephen King novel.

Everyone knows who Stephen King is. You may not have read his novels. Maybe you’ve only watched films based on his work. But you absolutely know who Stephen King is. When I was younger, I was introduced to Stephen King’s work through films and mini-series by my father who has always been a fan of Stephen King. I was surprised to find out that I liked 11.22.63 more than my father did, though.

11.22.63 follows Jake Epping (played by James Franco) – an English teacher from Maine – who one day learns that his friend Al Templeton (played by Chris Cooper) can travel back in time to 1960. When Templeton dies, Jake Epping decides to finish the mission Templeton had started long ago: Epping has to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

I really enjoyed this show a lot. I’m always drawn to time travel stories, so this mini-series was right up my alley. There were some elements of the story that didn’t work for me, like some of the time-jumps, or the Bill Turcotte character. Bill’s character was just straight up infuriating at times.

But it worked for me most of the time, and one of the biggest reasons why is James Franco. Now, I get it. James Franco can be an acquired taste. He doesn’t work for everyone. But I like Franco a lot, and I thought he did a good job here.

I also really enjoyed the scenes with Leon Rippy and Josh Duhamel. Now, the best performance came from Sarah Gadon, for sure. Gadon played Sadie Dunhill, and she was absolutely wonderful in the role. Her relationship with James Franco’s Jake really mattered to the viewer of the show.

The premise is great. I had a few problems with some of the actions of the supporting characters – like Bill Turcotte. But one thing you always worry about when you watch a time travel show is if it can ‘stick the landing.’ And I have to say that I loved the ending of the show.

I was watching it with my father the other day, and he didn’t respond to it as well as I did. But I was really happy with how the mini-series ended, and especially touched by the way Sadie and Jake’s relationship ended. I thought the final episode – The Day in Question – was the best episode of the mini-series.

I would definitely recommend this show to fans of shows or films based on Stephen King’s work, as well as fans of time travel stories. It isn’t a perfect show, but it does live up to its potential – and I’ll probably return to the mini-series over and over again.

B+

– Jeffrey Rex

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