Dreamcatcher (2003)
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Review Date: March 19, 2003
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, William Goldman
Producers: Lawrence Kasdan, Charles Okun
Thomas Jane
Jason Lee
Morgan Freeman
A band of childhood buddies bundle up in a winter chalet for some old school chatter about some strange kid they used to know along with a whole lot of beer guzzling. The next day, some helicopters show up in the sky and a bloody mess of a man falls into their domain. The next thing you know, aliens are on the loose, body insertions are the draw of the day and Morgan Freeman is a badass with a wicked grey crewcut. I'm hip!
This is a flawed picture that totally had me in the palm of its hand during its first awesome half with a mysterious premise and a gang of believable mates, but ultimately lost me with one too many subplots and one too many attempts at genre-switching. The film essentially takes all the elements from Stephen King's earlier works including STAND BY ME, THE SHINING and THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, along with a bunch of other horror sci-fi/flicks a la THE THING, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and anything else that Lawrence Kasdan and his homage-friendly partners decided to pepper into this winter-laden potpourri of monster, suspense, comedy of horrors and hoped that it would all make sense in the end. The film's actually got pretty much everything in it and more...in fact, too much!! It starts off with a nice, fresh premise, taking us through the lives of these four guys, even dropping a little suspense into our laps. But soon after the always funny Jason Lee spits out a few hilarious one-liners, it shifts into another kind of movie and things get a little wacky. Having said that, I continued to hang in there because I really dug all of the actors and the directing was sweet up to that point. Then, a couple of our boys get messed up, Morgan Freeman and Tom Sizemore's hairpiece slip into the mix and the next thing you know...the quiet, meandering build-up that was, turns into an action-fest with Free and Size churning CGI helicopters across the fair skies and kicking all kinds of alien ass!! Yes...an odd shift in momentum indeed. But I still tried to keep up with the handful, and ultimately, kitchen-sink full, of subplots, until one Donnie Wahlberg showed up as a mind-reading mentally-challenged weirdo, at which point, all hell literally broke loose, alien CGI monsters started to go mano-a-mano while I was left trying to figure out how "The New Kid" could look as horrible as he did.

All that to say that what continued to "save" the film for me was the absolutely fun, gung-ho performance of Freeman, who not only looked very different in this role, but also dropped enough machismo into my drink to crack me up every time he popped up on screen. Sure, the whole thing veered off into enough plot directions to twist anybody's tittie around a few times, but on the whole, I enjoyed the ambition behind the project, as opposed to the straight-assed one-note bullshit recycled fluff-pieces that are slammed down our respective throats week in and week out (or maybe that's just me?) Yeah, we didn't need all the friggin' flashbacks to their childhoods, we didn't need to see the whole "psychological" insides of a certain character's head (especially since it would have cut down the film's runtime as well) and we certainly didn't need the whole Freeman/Sizemore tete-a-tete, but overall, I liked a lot more of its stuff than I didn't like and would definitely still recommend it to anyone who wants to be scared a little, laugh a little and be confused a little. It also runs longer than it should, but the gang of initial characters are a blast to watch (shoulda stuck more to their story though), Freeman is the friggin' man, some of the alien/monster stuff is entertaining (they've got British accents...you bet!!), it features a handful of "memorable" scenes and its first half is more engaging than most movies are in their entirety nowadays, so make sure to catch it, at least, on video and if possible, in theaters, if only to see how aliens make their way in/out of human beings (and yes...it's pretty gross).


Incidentally, if you stick around after this film's credits, you will be treated to a special preview of FINAL FLIGHT OF THE OSIRIS, which is an 11-minute computer-generated short that serves as a prelude to THE MATRIX RELOADED (opening May 15, 2003). Now I loved THE MATRIX as much as the next guy, but this ditty just didn't do it for me. The characters in the piece are essentially drawn up as the ones in FINAL FANTASY, in that they look stupendous on the big screen, and appear to be as real as computer generated images of human beings can be, but to be honest...I'm about as "impressed" as I was with the folks in the former film at this point. I mean, at some point, don't you have to consider that there are other entities which also look a lot like human beings and they are...well, actual human beings!!! The story is also a virtual copy of THE MATRIX itself squeezed into a few minutes, including a one-on-one fight between two partners in the "fight room" (although I would watch the whole thing over just to catch a shot of that Asian chick's ass again....wow...the perfect ass, folks!!), the flight from the sentinels, the sight of the "old world" and the ultimate re-entry into the Matrix. I don't know, I might've been expecting more or the "anime" thing just isn't my shtick, but nothing to phone home about in this piece for me (other than that great ashe!!!). This episode is part of the nine short films that make up THE ANIMATRIX, conceived by the Wachowski Brothers themselves and featuring the directing talents of the world's foremost anime filmmakers. The brothers actually wrote four of the stories, including this one. For anyone who wants to pre-order THE ANIMATRIX before it comes out on June 3, 2003, click here.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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