Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just Call Me Angel of the Mourning

Pity a film that oversells itself with a way-too-good (by my standards) trailer. While anyone can understand a preview that shows the best bits to draw you in, it’s something of a tragedy to realize mid-movie that nothing you’re about to see will beat those 3 minutes of teasery.
Examine, if you will, the red band trailer for 2010’s Legion:

Awesome, right? Spidery senior citizens! Cheesy one-liners involving Christianity! Fist pump Doug Jones! Kickass Roc! Dennis Quaid aging gracefully!
How could this not be the best theatrical horror since Orphan ?
Sigh. As almost everyone who eventually watched Legion knows, it’s kind of the very definition of the word ‘meh.’

Quick Plot: 8 months pregnant with a soon-to-be adopted fetus probably suffocating from desert air and chain smoke, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) waits tables at a lonely restaurant visited primarily by lost and car troubled travelers. On this sunny xmas eve, diners include a possible thug (you know...because he's black), unhappy rich family with a skanky teen daughter, and regulars/employees Dennis Quaid (why?) Charles “Roc” S. Dutton, and lovestruck Lucas Black. Things get slightly more interesting when newcomer Michael (Paul Bettany, all whispery and white) saunters in like an albino cowboy, his mission being to ensure the safety of Charlie’s unborn child in order to save the soon-to-be exterminated human race.

See, God’s going retro this year with a throwback to the Old Testament. Instead of a flood (soooo B.C.) or locust plague, the big man has ordered his flying posse to zombify mere mortals. Ever the defiant one, Michael cuts off his own strings--er, wings--because Black’s unwavering crush on the town slut means deep down, humans are awesome. 
Had I not watched the impeccably cut trailer, Legion may have proved to be a guilty enough pleasure. B+ list actors slumming in wacko genre fare is always a treat, and the very concept of a demon/angel/zombie war is entertaining enough in its silliness. Unfortunately, there’s something so heavy about Legion that never lets the audience feel any joy.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t require tongue-in-cheek goofiness in every religiously themed horror, but a film should know when to wink. Legion seems to think such a twitch would be a sin worthy of eternal torment or no hard candy from the likes of this woman:

High Points
One bait and switch scene involving blond children (never a good sign) is actually rather frightening
God’s fickleness is somewhat amusing in a total “What a dick!” kind of way
Low Points
How do you cast Kevin Durand--that 6’8 or so slab of psycho Lost baddie goodness--as a dark angel and make him so damn dull?

Remember that awesome Doug Jones ice cream man transformation you saw in the trailer? Cool right? And that’s it
The Winning Line
“I gotta get my bible.”
“What for?”
 “Somebody’s gotta start praying”
If Legion had more moments of cheese such as these, I would be melting it over french fries and smiling far more than my current sleepy scowl
Lessons Learned
Just cause you’re a girl means you CAN deliver a baby
The assigning of the next messiah is more random than the state lottery drawing

Angelically possessed zombies are surprisingly easy to kill, providing you’re not an idiot that runs straight into 180 of them gathered in mob stance 
Invest no capital or energy in seeing this film. Too empty for a rewatch, too blah to be drinkable. It’s a stopping-on-a-cable-channel-on-a-snowy-evening kind of movie that should prove to be passable enough for a TV watch but simply doesn’t require any more of your resources. Pop a mini-bag of popcorn, cue up the superb trailer, and save yourself 106 minutes with a much better time.


  1. I had the same opinions when I watched this, and honestly I haven't even thought about it since (until now). All of the elements are there to create something the caliber of Tales from the Crypt 'Demon Knight,' but somehow that potential is never realized.

    A little more self-deprecation couldn't have hurt.

  2. I saw this in the theatre with the promise of it being as cool of a movie as it seemed in the trailer.

    Didn't love it, didn't hate it, but it did have a very forgetful quality to it. With a few moments here and there that stuck with me but nothing cohesive to conclude that it was even "good".

    The Christian overtones smacked and force fed you like Freddy did Greta. I have no beef with introducing religious themes. But it done with a twang of superficiality and the false guise of simplicity, it loses its appeal. But that's true for any film.

    The difference is: movies like Legion just look like bad Sunday sermons that your mother dragged you to when you were a "shortie" (thanks Tyrese... wit yo foine self! :P)

    "The assigning of the next messiah is more random than the state lottery drawing"

    Hahaha! SO TRUE!

    Hey, maybe I'm 'the chosen one' ...

  3. Demon Knight is the PERFECT film to compare this to. It had such a great balance of actual horror with lighthearted winks. Legion was just so intent on being serious. I didn't get it!

    Ashlee: I don't mind the religion when it's entertaining, so God acting like a total dick amused me. But yeah, it was also rather ham-fisted.

    And in terms of your odds being the chosen one, I'll defer to the longterm slogan for the NY Lotto:

    Hey, You Never Know!

  4. Eh, I don't know. There's just something about it that makes me wanna see it. Somehow I know it's gonna suck and I'm gonna hate it, but I know that deep inside I am gonna give in and actually give it a watch.

  5. Believe you me Atroxion, I understand. I had to fight myself to not go see this on my birthday last year because killer angels! It sounds exciting no matter how hard you try to say it's bad.

    But it is.

  6. Good review, wasn't that excited over this film either, it was, as you said too heavy..
    I did like the old lady on the ceiling bit though.

  7. I loved the old lady! I just wish I hadn't seen her entire scene in the trailer. Booo-urns.

  8. I just gave you the Happy 101 Blogger Award!
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

  9. I can't believe I STILL haven't seen this movie!!! I like the review so I'll look out for this one definately. I like the idea of old grannies running across the ceiling.

  10. Thanks Pete! Much appreciated and humbling.

    Cyber, I LOVED the idea of grannies scuttling across the ceiling. I just wish the writers did as well. So much squandered potential.