11.22.63 (Blu-Ray) : Release Year - 2016

Overall Rating : 7.5/10

James Franco (Oz the Great and Powerful)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
George MacKay (How I Live)
Cherry Jones (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot)

Supplied By : Warner Brothers

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : November. 19, 2019


11.22.63 hurtles viewers deep into the unpredictable darkness of the American dream. James Franco stars as Jake Epping, a high school teacher at a loss with his life, who wants to make a difference and do something meaningful. Encouraged by his ailing friend (Chris Cooper), Jake journeys back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The story transports audiences into the world of 1960s Texas as Jake explores the multiple mysteries surrounding the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. But Jake's mission faces threats not only from Oswald, but from Sadie, a beautiful librarian he falls in love with, and from the Past itself... which doesn't want to be changed. And if the Past doesn't want to be changed, it will push back -- often violently. With something for everyone, this edge-of-your seat mystery offers an epic and emotional thrill ride.
In the Mini-Series, 11.22.63, English teacher, Jake Epping is at a trying time in his life. He has recently experienced the death of his father, and his divorce has just been finalized. Not sure where his life will lead him next, Jake searches for purpose. That is when he makes a bizarre disovery via his friend, diner owner, Al Templeton. Al has gotten ill, as he eventually reveals that he has cancer. Knowing that his life is at it's end, Al also pulls back the curtain on his best kept secret. Located in the closet at the back of his diner, is a rabbit hole - a time portal that is able to transport a person back to October 24, 1960. Those who enter the fox hole, most enjoy an extended stay, because should they come back - no matter what, only 2 minutes would have passed in the present, no matter how long their stay was. As it turns out, Al has thus used the time traveling over the years with a purpose, he wanted to make it November 22, 1963, in order to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In doing so, Al believes that it would have also prevented a number of things, such as the war in Vietnam. Prior to his death, Al divulged this information, with hopes that Jake would take over this mission. Initially, he's reluctant to do so, but soon he dives right in, as he attempts to blend in with 1960s America. Initially it is too much for Jake, who has taken the name of James Amberson. He looks to turn back, however before that, he sets his sets his sights on the murders of his friend, and student Harry Dunning's family. Occurring on Halloween night, 1960, Harry's mother and siblings were viciously murdered by Harry's alcoholic father, Frank. Jake travels to Holden Kentucky, as he aims to prevent the event. It's an experience which shakes him to his core, causing him to change is mind about returning to the present. While in Holden, he had a run in with a young man named Bill Turcotte. First seen as a foe, Bill becomes an ally, as Bill joins him in his quest. With still 3 years to spare, Jake takes up living life, as he makes money by placing bets, using a book given to him by Templeton. In the book are various sports scores for the likes of sporting events that are yet to occur. In the meantime, Jake also unexpectedly falls for beautiful Librarian, Sadie Dunhill. It all begin with a chance meeting, and ironic placement, when Jake takes a teaching job is the nearby small town, of Jody, at a school which Sadie just so happens to be the librarian. Jake begins living a double life. There is his life in Jody, but then he has an apartment in Dallas, which he shares with Bill, as they pose as brothers. The purpose for the apartment is that it is located next door to one Lee Harvey Oswald. the primary suspect in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As things progress, Jake, along with Bill, begin to alter history via a series of events, and as they learn, the past doesn't take too kindly to changes, as it fights back violently. As Jake and Bill look to be successful, they eventually bug Oswald's apartment. However, leading up to November 22, 1963, things occur that threaten what Jake has waited 3 years for. Will Jake persevere and be successful in preventing one of America's worst tragedies?

11.22.63, a mini-series which was based on a story from Stephen King, is a time travel thriller, which merges sci-fi fantasy with an historic event, to create a story that is both compelling and intriguing, as we watch it's character, "Jake Epping" embark on a journey to rewrite history, and hopefully change things for the better. This mini-series can be compared readily, of course with the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, as a man goes back in time to change things, and in the process, experience historic points in history first hand. It's the same here in 11.22.63, except, in this case, some of the things that Jake encounters, really happened. When Jake travels back to early 1960s America, it's quite the culture shock, as people don't dress like Jake(which soon causes him to adapt to the times), he also encounters racism and segregation. The way in which these culture shock moments are presented, are sometimes humorous(such as the scene which Jake stops to use the bathroom, and almost mistakenly wanders into a bathroom reserved for coloreds only. It's then, that a black man, who's exiting points it out to him). A good portion of 11.22.63 details just how Jake waits it out. Because it is nearly years time, until the assassination, when he arrives on the scene. This could have dragged on, and it could have been boring. However, King, along with Bridget Carpenter, who adapts the story for the series, manage to keep things interesting. It's during this time that quite a few things happen. He meets a woman, who he falls hard for. She's married, but is newly single when they meet again later - thus a love affair begins. Jake also makes money with the bets. This, and other actions cause him to realize that the changes made, carry with them some drastic consequences, when the past "reacts", and thus fires back. I will not mention exactly how it fights back. as the story benefits from a viewer haven't known prior, but I will say that the results are clever and fitting. The series also has some twists and turns along the way as it capitalizes on a few of the conspiracy theories that surround the assassination of JFK. Was it orchestrated by the CIA? Was the act really carried out by a lone gunman - or did Oswald have help? 11.22.63 is one that has you holding on to see just where it will take things in the ends.

This was a great series for the most part. You know when you find a new show, that you just can't help but the binge watch? That's how I was with this one. Things get off to a somewhat slow start, only to eventually pick up, and never look back until the end. For the majority, 11.22.63 is solid, nicely progressive, and nicely acted all around. I was loving everything I got from this mini-series - and then came the ending. And to say that I was slightly disappointed by it would be an understatement. What a lackluster conclusion to a great thriller. Lets just say that Jake gets to view things as they'd be if things had been changed, doesn't like it, and reverts. This in turn, leaving us feeling that it was all for nothing. Everything was going well, and was even edge of your seat type thrilling at times. But that ending just sort of spoils the greatness. I do hate when that happens.

There are a lot of things to like here. First, there's the way that the story blends fact and fiction. There's also the unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed the part of the story where Jake goes back to stop the multiple homicide. Josh Duhamel was great as the absuvive father, "Frank Dunning". Also great was T.R. Knight as Sadie's husband, "Johnny Clayton". There is a moment, where Johnny holds Jake and Sadie hostage, after Johnny feels that Jake has humiliated him. It's a really dramatic turning point for the story, and is excellently played. But perhaps my favorite thing about 11.22.63 is that underlying love story between Jake Epping/James Amberson and "Sadie Dunhil". Yes, i'm a big sap, and so I love romance stories. And there is one here that is brilliantly tied in. Jake went in on a "mission", and didn't expect to find love along the way. And he does so with a striking blonde beauty, who is a librarian. James Franco as Jake/James, and Sarah Gadon as Sadie, share a nice chemistry together on screen, making them a very likable pair. Not to mention that Gadon is just absolutely gorgeous. The Canadian-born beauty is truly a revelation to the eyes. Both she and Franco's characters represent the innocence within the multi-layered story.

Overall, 11.22.63 is a great mini-series all around, which features James Franco displaying why it is that he is actually a decent actor. He has great support as well, from not only Gadon, but from the likes of Duhamel, Knight, Chris Cooper, as "Al Templeton" and George MacKay as "Bill Turcotte". Unfortunately though, I struggle to rate it any higher, because the conclusion is such a let down, as I feel it strips away any purpose for the story told.

The 2 Blu-Ray disc set comes housed in a sturdy cardboard slip cover, while the discs are housed in a double panel case, with one on each side.

Special Features include :

- A brief making of featurette featuring Stephen King and Bridget Carpenter

I have said about all I can say about 11.22.63 above. This 8 episode mini-series is a great mix of both fact and fiction, as it spins a nice fantasy tale. The acting is also top notch. But it's just that ending. I mean what was it all for, if you're going to end it that way? So that alone is the disappointing part. The rest of it however being quite good.

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