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Four childhood friends, Jonesy, Beaver, Pete and Henry all share a special secret. Each year, they take a trip into Maine woods. This year is different. A blizzard occurs, and they recover a man found wandering around. Unbeknownst to them,this wandering individual isn't the only being to be found. Now they must act fast to stop the outbreak developing and to prevent the world from its doom Written by
When John Grisham or Stephen King writes a book, everyone can expect it to be turned into some sort of movie that's not as good (the only one that hasn't had that happen to it is the latter's Insomnia-and it really deserves to be made into something great) as the book was. Of course, there's exceptions (such as The Shining and Carrie-both of which were poorly remade), but one that makes the book look like string cheese is Dreamcatcher. The book was 1000 pages of hit-or-miss horror, and the movie condenses it into two and a quarter hours that takes most of the best parts from the book. Having doubted William Goldman's ability since Marathon Man and the partial butchering of Misery, but since he's writing here with director Lawrence Kasdan, he can't foul up that badly.
The hardest part of having the arduous task of adapting a King book is taking 1000+ pages and putting it into a reasonable amount of time for the viewer. That's why the miniseries are always hot to trot, because they can stretch things out to the length of the book. Trouble is, eventually, it gets boring and too true to the book. That's how the aforementioned remakes failed. Filmmakers need to be able to have creative licenses, and that's what Kasdan does. He knows how to work with the material that he and Goldman wrote, and it turns out to be something much better than the source material.
Four childhood friends, Beaver (Jason Lee), Henry (Thomas Jane), Jonesy (Damian Lewis) and Pete (Timothy Olyphant), go to some woods in Maine for their annual hunting trip. In their childhood, they had been united by a mentally retarded friend, Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg), which linked all of them with some sort of telepathy that they usually don't talk about. During their twentieth year of going out there, aliens land nearby and alter the course of their lives forever. Meanwhile, Col. Abraham Curtis (Morgan Freeman, with the named changed from the original Kurtz, a reference to Apocalypse Now, because I guess hearing a name will automatically trigger the "plagiarism" sensor in viewer's minds more than reading it) is in charge of the governmental side of the aliens, while he supposedly goes crazy. For those who thought Jack Nicholson's transformation in The Shining happened too quickly, they obviously haven't seen Dreamcatcher.
I think the reason most people didn't like Dreamcatcher is that they didn't know what the hell was going on. I can understand it, since some of the most important stuff is just referenced in passing (such as most things relating to Mr. Gray). I thought that all of the Curtis subplot seemed to drag everything down, because everything that's done there could have been brought about some other way. But much of the movie is pretty scary, despite the absurdity of not only some of the aliens and the CGI, but the ending. I didn't have that many qualms with it, but those who did probably also complained with the oddity of the ending of The Hulk (understandably). The plot held up through all of the reductions, and makes an effectual, creepy film.
The acting, however, could have been better. Although Jason Lee is always good, all of his catchphrases that his character had in the book seemed scripted and stilted. The actor who played Beaver as a child also seemed to just be reading his lines. The other actors don't really bring any personality to their roles, although Lewis's "dual role" was pretty cool. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of material in this film, but when you think about it, it all flows together pretty well. And considering you're taking 1000 pages into a 135 page script, that's pretty good to have everything flow together. My respect for William Goldman has come back, as for good horror films. Dreamcatcher is not the best King adaptation, or the best King book, but it's entertaining and creepy, and that's all we ask for from Mr. King.
My rating: 7/10
Rated R for violence, gore and language.
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