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The first third of Dreamcatcher is worth the time. Four childhood friends
make their annual trip to a hunting cabin, weird things happen, and,
you know it, you're smack-dab in the world of Stephen King, at his most
darkly comical and gaily grotesque. It's flatulent, bloody fun on the
and Goldman had no problem translating this hideous orgy of gas and guts
from novel to screenplay form. As the screenplay proceeds, it strays from
the book to the point where the film becomes a Hollywood embarrassment of
The Dreamcatcher novel also fell apart in its second half, but what kept you reading the book was the mind games going on in the lead character, Jonesy's (Damian Lewis) head. Jonesy's brain and body has been taken hostage by an alien named, Mr. Gray. In the novel, Jonesy notices Gray becoming tempted by the trappings of humanity, and uses that to his advantage. It's fun to watch the alien craving various human indulgences, more and more, with each passing minute. This aspect of the novel is completely removed from the film, leaving us with nothing more than Damian Lewis, playing both Jonesy and Mr. Gray, making silly faces, and putting on goofy accents, as he goes between the two characters.
The second act of the film, one taking place in a concentration camp for American citizens whom may or may not be contaminated with an alien virus, is nothing more than a shadow of what is shown in the book. Even the shoddiest of cliffnote "authors" would be embarrassed to condense a novel down to this elementary a form.
In the book, the head of the camp, Colonel Abraham Kurtz, played in the film by Morgan Freeman, was a nasty man, so over the edge that he was frightening, from his first appearance to his last. In the movie, we're made aware of the fact that he has lost it, but almost exclusively through exposition, rather than action. Seeing these innocent civilians locked up like animals was disturbing in the novel, and would make for an extremely tense mid-section of this movie, if this movie dared to have any tension.
In King's Dreamcatcher, the people locked in the camps join together, with help from the telepathic Dr. Henry Devlin, in the film played by Thomas Jane, and start a massive uprising against the guards. At the same time, Devlin is working on Colonel Kurtz's more conscientious subordinates, both through words, and the power that he, along with Jonesy, Beaver and Pete, was given by a mysterious fifth friend, Duddits. In the movie, the uprising never occurs, and it feels as though each of the concentration camp scenes were put into the film to pad it out, while giving a plum role to Morgan Freeman.
I won't give away the finale to either the novel or the film, but I will say that everything good about the finish of the book form of Dreamcatcher, is noticeably missing from the film version. Instead of an emotionally moving climax, we get a sloppy CGI-fest that reminded me a bit of Godzilla VS. King Kong, or maybe even Species 2. Although I found myself squirming over the laziness displayed during the majority of the second half of the picture, I was still undecided as to whether or not I would recommend it. The lousy last few minutes of film made up my mind.
This is the first movie I can think of that I can only recommend in patches. Drink a couple of gallons of water before you attend the picture, and run to the bathroom to let it out, whenever things start getting stupid.
If you're a fan of horror, you will enjoy the first hour of the film. The bathroom sequence is a near-masterpiece, and, for that alone, Lawrence Kasdan should be commended. Kasdan also handles the flashback scenes, featuring the four main characters as children, adequately enough to get my thumb working its way toward the "up" direction. Finally, during those few times Kasdan does take us into Jonesy's brain, he does so in an incredibly interesting, oftentimes humorous, manner.
When Jonesy leaves the relative safety of the locked room he has nuzzled deep within his cerebrum, only to find the evil that is hiding behind boxes of stored memories inside his mind's warehouse, it genuinely gave me chills. More scary moments like this, placed throughout the film, and Kasdan may have had his first instant classic in a long while.
There was a lot of money and time put into Dreamcatcher, and it shows on the screen. Steve Johnson's work on the puppet versions of the "s***weasels" is extremely effective, and shows, once again, that anything CG can do, human hands can do better. The CG isn't the best I've seen, but it's significantly less cartoony than either of the last two Star Wars prequels, and does the job nicely, even though I would have enjoyed the effects far more, if CG wasn't a part of them. The cinematography by John Seale (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Witness) is gorgeous, but not noteworthy enough to make the Director of Photography the star of the film, like Caleb Deschanel's work did for him in the recent semi-stinker, The Hunted.
What we end up with is a nice looking film that feels hollow.
Man, where does Stephen King comes up with this things? Again, we have the childhood friends we think we know from "Stand by me" only this time they're older, have weird powers and face some really nasty creatures. I just come from watching it for the first time and i just wanted to say: What a weird movie!! I've seen some really weird movies, but this one... It's sort of a mixture of horror, sci-fi, comedy... At some point you don't know whether to be disgusted or to laugh! The special efects are great, and so is the music ("On blue bayou..."}. It may not be a great movie, but it's great entertainment. And it's sooooooo insane!!!! I liked it. Go see it. 7/10
As Stephen King fans should probably know, there are a lot of things in Stephen Kings books that make sense only where they are - that is, in Stephen King books. Translating them to film is usually a bad idea, as many filmmakers who had adapted King's books before probably figured out. But along comes Lawrence Kasdan, a talented and acclaimed veteran director, who, with the aid of a no less acclaimed screenwriter William Goldman, decides while writing a script for Dreamcathcer that it would be better to bring along all the trademark King's weird goings-on - and voila! We have a movie filled with telepathy, butt-ripping aliens, crazy military types keen on killing everyone, telephone-guns, indian symbols and even a lot of CGI thrown in for a good measure. Of course, it all fails - but oh how gloriously! I'll go as far as to state that Dreamcatcher is absolutely the best unintentional B-movie trashfest in years! It was totally amusing that such a bunch of undoubtedly talented people (Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, besides aforementioned Kasdan & Goldman) were able to make this film without a single smirk - while the material is pure trash'n'cheese. That was the whole beauty of it, for me, at least - the level of money, work and talent that went into creating this film. I would like to personally thank all the people involved with Dreamcathcer - they made my year! Thank you, Lawrence Kasdan! Thank you, William Goldman! Thank you, Morgan Freeman - your eyebrows rocked! And most of all, thank you, Jason Lee - the bathroom scene involving Beaver and an alien worm under the toilet lid is pure classic!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If movies have taught me one thing it's that aliens are obsessed with
the human anus. They cross galaxies to probe and explore it. What
mysteries lie up there
? But Dreamcatcher goes one step further. These
aliens aren't merely obsessed with exploring the rectum; they hide up
it. It should be a shock, but aliens have been crawling out of my colon
Dreamcatcher gets off to a reasonable enough start. We get a nice little sequence where we're introduced to the four main characters and their respective powers they're telepathic. Then we get a bit of King-style strangeness when one of the characters gets run over. So far so good. The man survives and then we get a pleasant sequence in a log cabin where the friends talk, joke and give thanks to the kid that gave them their strange gifts. It's here that the film begins to go downhill. We get a Stand by Me-style flashback to their childhood where the four friends save a half-wit from a couple of bullies who want to make him eat faeces. It's not a terrible scene, but the kids come over as insufferable do-gooders. The fact that they're fans of Scooby-Doo speaks volumes. But they save the half-wit, a kid called Duddits (is it law that movie half-wits have to be infuriatingly lovable?) and he gives them all sorts of gnarly powers. It's not a great sequence, but the film is still chugging along.
The film derails, though, when we go back to the log cabin and the adult characters. Jonesy (Damien Lewis) stumbles upon a man lost in the snow. The stranger's not feeling too well and he's got a strange red mark on his face, so Jonesy gives him shelter. The man is grateful but he keeps on farting. Then Beaver, played by Jason Lee, stumbles into the cabin and the two friends have to put up with the noxious fumes. To cut a long story short the two friends then give the bloke a place to sleep but he ends up dying on the toilet. You see, this is what happens when aliens invade. They find a nice warm place in your colon and then you die on the bog when they want some fresh air.
The scene that follows is laughable. The two friends have the alien trapped in the toilet (it can't get out while the fat bloke is sitting on the khazi) but somehow Beaver ends up sitting on the closed toilet lid instead. Jonesy then decides that it's a good idea to get some tape from the shed to keep the lid shut, so he leaves Beaver alone on the lav. It's kind of like Lethal Weapon 2, only with an alien instead of a bomb. But to show how stupid the film is, Beaver is wrested from his safe position because for some reason he wants a toothpick to keep him calm (is he Razor Ramon?). Personally I'd be more worried about my bum. But the alien gets loose and kills poor Beaver right before Jonesy's eyes (Jonesy takes an age to find the tape).
But what of the alien? What does it look like? Well, it's worm in shape but it has a mouth like a tooth-filled vagina. I'll get onto my interpretation of this in a moment
But the worm isn't the real alien. The real alien confronts Jonsey a few moments later. It's a CGI monstrosity and is kind of a human-shaped blob. But then after it stares at Jonesy it seems to explode in front of his face. I was puzzled for a moment or two but then it's revealed that the alien has possessed him. And how does the alien speak? Why, it speaks in an English accent, of course! Pip-pip, old chap! But the Gollum-like scenes where the real Jonesy and the camp English alien Jonesy talk to one another are hilarious. I kept wondering whether it was a joke. Surely such assured filmmakers couldn't make such a grave miscalculation. But apparently they could, because the film only gets increasingly stupid.
Another brilliantly dumb scene is when another one of the friends is stuck in the snow with some beer. He gets a little bit drunk and needs to urinate. So he's relieving himself, and writing a boy's name into the snow ('Duddits'), when one of the alien worms leaps out and bites his penis off. And this brings me onto my interpretation of the alien invasion (as its never explained). My theory is that a race of self-hating, gay, English aliens (there's no way alien Jonesy can be straight) are trying to kill Earth's homosexual population none of the friends are married and one is rather fond of talking about his privates. And to do their bidding they have teeth-filled vagina worms to bite off the genitalia of any man who isn't 100% straight. Hey, it makes as much sense as the rest of the movie!
Adding credence to this far-fetched theory is Morgan Freeman's character. He and his second-in-command, Tom Sizemore (who are the gay military men trying to stop the gay alien invasion), spend a lot of time giving one another flirty glances. And Freeman's character has a John Wayne pistol, Dennis Healy eyebrows and talks of crap weasels. And the two men also end up killing one another. This scene is certainly one of the funniest. It's Tom Sizemore versus Morgan Freeman, only Freeman has a helicopter (with the most phallic mini-gun known to man attached to the nose) and Sizemore has a pistol. Who do you reckon wins? Man in helicopter? Or man on foot with a pistol? Why, the man on foot wins! It doesn't make any sense. But then again none of the film does. It's a Byzantine puzzle that begins with bums and ends with dumbness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie starts very interesting and then, around the arrival of Morgan
Feeman, becomes almost total crap. What I thought was going to be a
supernatural thriller, the way it started, turns out to be a silly sci-fi
horror almost as bad as the Stephen King adaptation of 'Sleepwalkers',
to name one.
May be it is very hard to make a good Stephen King adaptation when it involves creatures not from this earth, or in a different time, or et cetera. 'The Langoliers' is another great example of something that starts very interesting and once those monsters appear becomes something stupid. There it took a while for them to appear, here we are only at a quarter of the movie.
The interesting supernatural part I was talking about involves the four friends Henry, Beaver, Jonesy and Pete. As kids they meet the mentally retarded Duddits, who seems to have supernatural powers and passes some of them to the four friends. As adults (they are played by Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis and Timothy Olyphant) they still have the powers and that is where the movie begins. They have telepathic gifts; they know things from strangers and are able to have contact with each other without speaking, and this is demonstrated with the great opening scenes.
When the four friends go to the woods for some hunting things go wrong. With them, and the movie. I will not tell you what happens exactly because you can guess by then. The movie never gets scary or interesting after the opening scenes again. For me the only thing I could enjoy from there was snow falling from the sky and performances that were alright. With two hours and ten minutes the movie is way too long and with a something this stupid and predictable you can only waste your time. Read the book and make your own version instead.
I have read Dreamcatcher and think it is one of King's most
under-appreciated books. In an interview, King said his wife didn't
care for it. King wrote it out on a yellow legal pad while he was
recovering from getting hit by that van.
I have also listened to the audio version of Dreamcatcher, so all that remained for me was to see this movie. While I knew there were things in the book that probably wouldn't make it to the screen, I was pleasantly surprised by how many did. However some scenes were so brief they were little more than tributes.
The cinematography was beautiful from start to finish, but where the first half of the film felt paced to perfection, the last half felt rushed. The ending was different than the book, so be prepared for a shocker.
The acting was good, I particularly enjoyed Jason Lee as Joe 'Beaver' Clarenden and Damian Lewis as Gary 'Jonesy' Jones.
A real disappointment was Thomas Jane as Dr. Henry Devlin. Pretty woody acting there.
Before seeing this movie, I would not have believed that Morgan Freeman could play Kurtz. I was wrong. That guy can play anything. Unfortunately, He didn't get enough chances to flesh out this crazy S.O.B.
Jonsey's dual nature was handled differently in the movie than it was in the book. Too bad. It was just right in the book, and was given a more "Hollywood" treatment in the movie.
Note to the director: This movie failed because not enough time was spent introducing these characters and making us care about them. The notable exceptions to this where Jonesy and the Beav.
No Bounce, No Play.
I actually liked Dreamcatcher enough that I saw it twice. However, this
be mostly due to the fact that I really liked Jason Lee as Beaver and
Timothy Olyphant as Pete. Regardless, this was actually a movie I did
I was not particularly interested in seeing Dreamcatcher initially. And this is me, who wants to see every scary movie. Not Scream type horror, but certainly of the creepy not entirely natural variety: Ring, Resident Evil (is that even horror?), you get the idea. However, my sister and her friend convinced me to go. After seeing an interview with Jason and some video clips from the movie, I was actually more enthusiastic.
Part of the reason I did enjoy the movie is because of the younger era flashbacks of the four friends. It had a kind of supernatural stand by me feel to it for those scenes, and I'm quite a fan of Stand By Me so that appealed to me. It also appealed to me because it did seem like a nice jump-out-and-scare-you horror. It's no psychological thriller which relies on your own imagination to scare you (and the fear stays with you well after you're done seeing it). It's much more blood and gore and chase the monster down kind of fun, which thrills you while you watch. I just love horror movies - any kind.
Also, I think that the movie did manage to get you to like most of these characters. Beaver was just loveable off the bat because of his "beaverisms" and his general charm. (I think Lee did a great job). Timothy Olyphant's character was also likeable (whether or not that it attributed to his acting skill, I don't know. I'm a horrible judge of acting, so I could say good but not really know the difference.) But I think his introduction scene worked well to help you connect to him despite his limited screen time (compared to the other "main" characters).
Thomas Jane and Damian Lewis were well enough. I don't think I grew particularly attached to either of their characters - Jonesy or Henry. And I'm sorry but the whole "british" Mr. Gray really threw me. It seemed so oddly thrown in - Why would an Alien speak with a British Accent? I realize on some level it was to draw a distinction, but still.
Morgan Freeman, I love him. I can't be unbiased about his role, because I just love him too much. I also liked Tom Sizemore, or at least his character was very likeable. And talk about creepy: "No infection here." stuff.
The effects were well done (I think) and I liked the soundtrack. That opening main theme, I want it! It was great and creepy and mysterious. I think the composer was the same guy who did the theme music for Unbreakable and Signs, and well, I like those too.
What can I say? The show entertained me. Maybe it's not a masterpiece but I think it was money well spent. I wasn't bored at any time. I was interested in how everything came about. I can completely see why those who read the book first would be disappointed. I read the Harry Potter books prior to seeing the movies and I hate every change they made - and that movie is always said to be so faithful. So I can see people's issues with the end and other changes.
I think a lot of the other reasons people dislike the movie is that it does have a lot of different ideas coming together. I read a review critiquing it's various directions, but honestly, I think all the different pieces come together fine as a cohesive whole. I understood the storyline and I wasn't jarred by flashbacks or scene changes. To me, it flowed, made sense. I could connect the dots easily enough.
And hell, if that ripley red-fungus s*** isn't enjoyably disgusting, I don't know.
I have never read the book, I have only read a small handful of Stephen
King's works ... they're generally not my preferred genre. I could go
on here, but I don't think most of you care if you are reading this.
Okay, I liked the movie. I would rate it around 7 or 8 for sheer entertainment factor. Sure, there were a few scenes that were a little thin, there were a few elements of dialogue (sp: I'm Canadian, eh?) that were a little weak. But since I didn't even know this was a SK movie, I had absolutely no predisposition regarding this movie.
In fact, I hadn't even reviewed any of the synopses or shorts regarding this film ... I was totally green going into it. And I found myself highly entertained. I liked seeing a bunch of characters whom I am not entirely familiar with, and I appreciated the casting of a few well-knows.
Enjoyment: 8 Cast: 8 Acting: 6 for some, 7 or 8 for others. Dialogue: 6 in general CGI: 7 (pretty good, but lots of 'off screen' stuff) Overall: 7
Plot heavy--TOO heavy--horror sci-fi film about 4 friends (Thomas Jane,
Jason Lee, Timothy Olyphant, Damian Lewis) in the Maine woods squaring off
against disgusting killer aliens and the Army led by Morgan Freeman and Tom
The film is well-directed by Lawrence Kasdan and well-acted (especially by Jane, Lewis and Olyphant) but there's too many plots going on and the movie rambles on for 135 minutes. I did sit through the whole thing, but I was never really involved or interested.
On the plus side, the special effects are great; the aliens are slimy and disgusting; the attack scenes are brutal (and bloody) and I LOVED the way Kasdan visualized Lewis' mind.
Still, the film has too many plots to handle and it's constantly loosing its focus. Not terrible or unwatchable, just disappointing.
I give it a 6.
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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