Legion

This is the best part!

Four reviews ago, as you may remember, I wrote about Pandorum, and my utter amazement at Overture Films’ lack of promotion for that film.  I suspect that now it’s on DVD it will make its money back and then some, if for no other reason, good word of mouth.  This is in stark contrast with the movie that I’m going to review in this article – Legion.  Sure, they both have Dennis Quad, but that’s where the similarities end.  Legion, unlike Pandorum, was very well promoted.  I saw the trailer in the theater and on TV more times than I can say.

Did this create excitement on my part for this movie?  Not really.  I have a knack for avoiding cruddy Hollywood movies.  I would have totally given Legion a miss to if not for the obligation, nay, the covenant I’ve made with you, my one and only reader, to review the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

The film opens with a quote from Psalms about fearing God.  I know!  That’s some subtle foreshadowing for you, eh?  Next we get a lovely view of the desert, which shifts from a motivational poster sort of scene to a pile of rusty junk, a lone trailer and gusts of dusty wind. Enter the voice over:  a woman talking about how as a girl her Mom used to tell her nice things about God, at least until Daddy ditched them in the desert.  After that, God, much like Mom’s outlook on life, turned distinctly unpleasant.  In spite of the ridiculous monologue, the visuals and the mood of the introduction are good.  Yes, I liked that opening.  I liked it even better when I saw it years ago in Terminator 2.

Next we get the Archangel Michael falling from the Moon and hitting the asphalt in an alley in Los Angeles.  Why he fell instead of flying with his big angel wings is beyond me.  Maybe he saw a chance to make a dramatic entrance laden with metaphor and took it.  I dunno. I found that weird and bothersome.  After picking himself up, Michael cuts off his wings before breaking into Charlton Heston’s garage and loading up on guns and ammunition.  On his way out he encounters a police cruiser which contains two officers of the law, Good Cop and Typical LA Cop (Typical LA Cop had been talking about wanting to murder the poor and downtrodden, wiping the slate clean or some such nonsense).  They’ve stopped because Michael has just blasted a huge, flaming, cross-shaped hole in the side of Heston’s garage.  Sure, Michael could use the door, but this is so much more fun.

A predicable exchange occurs with the cops pulling out their guns and telling Michael to drop the huge bags full of guns he’s lugging.  He drops them.  Good Cop goes to handcuff him.  Michael gets the drop on Good Cop, taking his gun and holding him hostage.  Typical LA Cop gets possessed by an angel, which you can tell because his head shakes really fast, after which he has pupils the size of pie pans and teeth like a shark — typical angel characteristics.  Newly possessed, Possessed Typical LA Cop tells Michael that he’s going to “die like a child” and shoots Good Cop.  Michael shoots Possessed Typical LA Cop in turn and takes the police cruiser.  All nice and neat, just like when Greedo shot first.

Meanwhile, out in a desert café, we have the gathering of your typical disaster movie cast: Hot But Pregnant, an unattached single woman;  Semi-Retarded Boy, whose love for Hot But Pregnant is unrequited; Bitter Middle-Aged Guy, café owner and the father of Semi-Retarded Boy; Upper-Middle Class Guy and his wife Over-Developed Sense of Entitlement Woman, the parents of Loves to Piss Off Mommy and Daddy Girl; Older Wise Black Guy, the diner’s cook, and finally Young Black Guy with a gun.

Each of these characters has a little back story, but the only one that really matters is Hot But Pregnant’s.  Now, from what I’ve read on countless bumper stickers, God isn’t usually a fan of abortion.  I dunno.  In Legion, God is all about abortion, at least in the case of Hot But Pregnant’s unborn baby, you see her bundle of joy is special.  He’ll grow up to be John Conner, leader of the resistance against the machines or maybe the second coming of Jesus or perhaps he’ll grow up and kill Darth Vader.  It’s never really explained.  All we know is that the birth of that baby seriously throws a monkey wrench in God’s plans.  Maybe He thinks that He’s too young to settle down and can’t support a wife and kid.  He just can’t do that and go to college. Whatever. None of this makes any sense.

So now we’re all set.  We have a café in the middle of nowhere full of stock disaster movie characters and the basic idea of how this is going to play out.  Michael arrives, after a silly demon attack (you’ve seen this bit in the trailer; it sucked there and doesn’t get any better) with plenty guns and a handful of exposition.  We can now settle down into siege mode as hordes of the angel possessed begin to surround the café.   From here we go into spoiler country.

Let’s get down to brass tacks.  The actors are troupers; though nobody gives an especially stellar performance,  nobody mails it in either. The entire cast gamely does the best they can with what they’ve been given. It’s an act of faith where the actors charge ahead bravely  hoping the special effects, editing, direction and music aren’t going to undermine what they are doing.   Hope can be a wonderful thing.  I hope that I will come home from work one day and be carried to a bed made of money and rainbows by a team of super hot French strippers who bathe me in Dom Perigon.  Oh, and world peace wouldn’t suck either.

Sadly, Legion takes away our actor’s hopes and stomps them like roaches at a clog dancing festival.  The script, as you have no doubt guessed, has huge truck-sized hole, requiring enough suspension of disbelief that you could build a Golden Gate Disbelief on it.  What Legion lacks in a plot, it never makes up for in dialogue.  The writing is just plain bad – even worse than what your reading right now.  I know!

The special effects are weak, though not as bad as a so-called “ScyFy Original” or a 1970’s Doctor Who episode.  There is a lot of CGI which looks about as good as a really good video game, but not as good as you would expect from a Hollywood movie.

The music can be summed up like this:

John Frizzell: So, what did you think of the score so far.

Production Person: It’s good, John, but we need it to be a little more. . . have you ever seen Terminator 2?

John Frizzel : Yeah.

Production Person: Do that — only different, but just like that.

John Frizzell: . . .

Legion is not scary.  There is no tension because the characters are not engaging.  They die for no reason other than to give the zombie-ish possessed something to do until the big climax.  Legion works best if you totally turn off your brain and just let the stupid wash over you because you have nothing else to do.

Starring:
Paul Bettany
Lucas Black
Adrianne Palicki
Dennis Quaid

Screenplay:
Peter Schink
Scott Stewart

Director:
Scott Stewart

One and a half Vincents

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