Movie Review – Legion

Legion is yet another addition to the baby-saves-the-world/baby-brings-on-the-apocalypse genre.

End of the world flicks are usually entertaining, and Legion brings enough satisfaction to rate a 7. If the last 15 minutes hadn’t drifted into cheesy territory, it probably would have earned an 8.

“Mommy, what changed to make God angry at the world?” “I don’t know, Honey. Maybe he is just tired of all the bullshit.” God has decided to end the human race (a second flood) by sending his angels to kill everyone. The Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) rebels choosing to protect an unborn child that is the key to humanity’s survival. As clearly shown in the trailer, Michael and a band of strangers hole up in a diner out in the desert (looking much like the parts of NM I will be visiting in 2 weeks – maybe my vacation will be more interesting than planned…) to face God’s legions of angels.

The plot is standard apocalypse and follows it faithfully. Save the baby; save the world. Why is never explained, but that is never necessary in the apocalypse plot line. The story is satisfying, an enjoyable end of the world struggle. The last 15 minutes drift into the “come on, this is not very realistic” zone assuming that you have been able to willingly suspend disbelief regarding angel-possessed zombie like humans seeking to kill an unborn child. That is the magic of movies, but let’s keep it believable!

Dennis Quaid has really developed into an excellent, grizzled-veteran-of-life actor. That is a great role for him as the hardened and mature, yet stand-offish older guy that just wants to be left alone. He has wisdom to share with the younger characters and tries to set things right and protect the innocent. But his age usually fails him in the physical struggle, and he sacrifices himself to save the others. He fits the role perfectly in Legion and also in Pandorum (Lieutanant Payton), which rated a good 7.

I am pleased to see Jon Tenney get some roles beyond The Closer (Agent Fritz Howard) and his more recent role in Brothers & Sisters (Dr. Simon Craig). His part in Legion is relatively minor and a bit flat. But he is a likeable actor in his typically quiet characterizations. The rest of the cast did a decent job in their stock roles: older man of faith, younger semi-ruffian with the opportunity for redemption, young pregnant waitress on her own, bitchy/slutty teen with bitchy/critical mother and quiet/passive father (Jon Tenney). We almost forgot the mysterious, strong, keeper of secrets rescuing hero (Paul Bettany as Michael.)

This movie was fun. It has been out for just over a week, but it won’t be out much longer as there were only two other people in the theater this fine, sunny (31 degrees) Sunday afternoon.

Movie Review – Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness is a Mel Gibson cop revenge movie.

This reasonably interesting flick garners a seven.

Mel Gibson plays a tough, loner detective (a real stretch from his prior acting roles…) in Boston. As you know from the trailer, his daughter is murdered in front of him. The killer shouts out their last name as he fires the shot leading the police to suspect that the father was the target as a result of his police work. Gibson goes into angry father bent-on-revenge and the truth mode.

Unlike the Lethal Weapon movies, this doesn’t become a kill, kill, kill fest. Of course, there are generous dollops of violence and the bodies tend to pile up towards the end. The film does take a little (I did say little) time to develop Gibson’s character but generally fails to provide much more than a cardboard cut-out of the other characters. They are merely foils for Gibson to push against in his quest for the truth and the murderer. The others’ acting is fine, just shallow.

The plot has some twists but plays along a pretty much predictable course. I will have to leave it at that or give away the end (for those who have a 6th grade level of logic). It is a typical story and doesn’t develop new story lines or ideas. But it does provide an entertaining cop/murder/revenge/justice story.

Movie Review – The Road

The Road is the story of a man and his boy trying to survive after an apocalypse.

This somber tale earns a 7.

Viggo Mortensen stars in this bleak and moving journey. He artfully projects the desperation and hope of a loving father trying to protect and to inspire his son in the face of humanity’s end and of the desolation of plant and animal life. His depth and expression fill in for the slow, thoughtful pace of this movie. It is about the journey and what it means about life and what we are; this is not a fast paced action flick with huge gun battles and sword fighting. You must be prepared for a slow, contemplative story if you are to enjoy this movie.

The boy does a nice job on the acting front, too. However, he is but a satellite to Viggo’s shining star. The other actors fulfill their roles realistically and with some pathos. No complaints on that front. There are some nice cameos by Robert Duvall (I didn’t recognize him), Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron.

The cinematography, suitably in sync with the overall theme, is bleak. Little color is allowed to penetrate the images taking shape before our eyes. All is filtered through shades of gray. Beautiful is not a likely word to describe the cinematography, but we shall arrive at beautifully done for a description.

While we never discover an explanation for the apocalypse, it is irrelevant. This is a story about humanity on an individual level. The basis of the plot certainly could be found in other stories throughout time – that is not a knock against it though. It is merely used as a framework through which we learn about the protagonists.

This may have earned an 8. It was well done; however, I entered the theater with a bright outlook on our new 2010, and The Road reminded me a little too much of some of my bleak journeys in 2009 that have been put behind me. I do recommend this movie – just expect to be pensive.

Movie Review – Pandorum

pandorum_poster7Pandorum is a sci-fi adventure aboard a space craft 150 years in the future.

This interesting concept earns a 7.

Around 2150 Earth’s population has passed 24 billion and the competition for scarce water and food resources has pushed the planet to the brink of Armageddon. Scientists have discovered an earth-like planet and launch a colony ship with 60,000 people. The journey will take over 100 years requiring the passengers be put into sleep/stasis chambers except for the flight crew, which will be awake in different shifts.

This movie reminds me of another book. “Non-stop” by Brian Aldiss from the 1950s. It has a similar story but several differences. I would recommend Non-Stop for those sci-fi people out there.

Dennis Quaid is the lieutenant from Flight Crew 5. They (2 of them) wake up remembering very little and are trapped in the stasis compartment. Quaid does a nice job in his role and really makes you have to pay attention. The corporal (well-played by Ben Foster) gets into the other part of the ship via the air ducts (so typical…) to discover what has happened to the bridge and rest of the crew. Things develop and the plot moves on from there. I cannot really say more without giving things away, so I will stop here. Some good stuff though.

The plot was curious and then unplanned and then a bit of hmmmm. The more I think about it now, the more I like it. It seems to mix several different types of sci-fi movies together. It was clever and cinematographically enjoyable.

It is unlikely to be in the theaters for much longer, but that is where you should see it if given the chance.

~Elric the Damned

Movie Review – The Incredible Hulk


The Incredible Hulk is set five years after Bruce Banner’s gamma radiation overdose.

This interesting version rates a 7.

Edward Norton makes a good Bruce Banner. He clearly wants to avoid hurting other people and his love for Betsy (Liv Tyler) shines through. His acting is outstanding as always. Liv Tyler is not the greatest actress in the world, but she does convey emotion very well. She wants to help Bruce find a cure and feels such concern and fear when he is in danger – it exudes from her every pore. I could not help but feel her pathos. It was wonderful and powerful. William Hurt is the scheming general that was in charge of the original gamma ray project. He wants to get Banner back so that the military can dissect him and create super soldiers. It took me a while to recognize him now that he is so old and has a huge, bushy moustache. Naturally, Stan Lee makes his usual cameo in a cutesy way.

The plot was good and interesting. We see the Hulk slowly change from a big, green seething mass of uncontrollable anger into a slightly more reasoning creature that could almost have the potential to become a superhero. Awww. But it was a good story that one could believe. The climactic fight at the end was pretty intense. It was big and splashy making me jump around in my seat as big chunks of stuff was thrown about and bodies slammed through things. All of this was felt through the filter of Betsy’s concern for the safety of her big, green guy.

And surprise, surprise, Tony Stark makes an appearance. Nice.