Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Legion (2010) [Blu-ray]

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

For what's in essence a fire and brimstone riff on The Terminator, it's embarrassing to see Scott Stewart's Legion fail so deplorably in its shallow aims. Born from a hackneyed script with nothing on its mind, beyond a halfhearted idea to combine elements of superior movies (the aforementioned sci-fi classic, cult curio The Prophecy, spam-in-a-cabin horrors), Legion is a heinous waste of time and effort. It's another movie where the director's an ex-ILM wiz-kid, handed the reigns of a movie, who proceeds to deliver a limp vehicle for better-than-you'd-expect CGI, that's every bit as vacuous as you're imagining.

Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) arrives in the City Of Angels during a clich├ęd thunderstorm, clips his own wings (which is ridiculous, as we learn the feathers are handily bullet proof later), fills a stolen cop car he fills with stolen guns, and drives to a diner in the middle of the desert. At said establishment, grizzled owner Bob (Dennis Quaid), idiot son Jeep (Lucas Black), short order cook Percy (Charles S. Dutton), pregnant waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), and a small group of customers, become suspicious something crazy's going down when a sweet old lady (Kaye Wade) bites a chunk out of a customer's neck and scuttles across the ceiling.

It soon becomes apparent that the diner's the focal point for Armageddon, attracting numerous Los Angelinos possessed by a vengeful God intent on slaughtering Charlie's unborn child -- whose birth, for reasons poorly-"explained", is the only way to prevent Our Lord's plan to exterminate mankind because he's "sick of all the bullshit". A sentiment I was echoing ten minutes into this dirge.

Legion is a film you're convinced you've seen before, because you effectively have. You can predict where it's going with dreary precision and mime along to its obvious, stilted dialogue, if so inclined. Nothing about it is interesting, horrifying, exciting, or fun. It's a hotchpotch of ideas lifted from Stewart's fetid imagination, fooling people into thinking it'll be worth bothering with because it stirs latent memories. The basic premise sounds fun to the ear, the eye feasts on a theatrical trailer of gore and augmented freaks, but your brain realizes the sad truth 15-minutes in.

Quite how a talented actor like Bettany was persuaded to appear in this brain-dead garbage is anyone's guess. By all means balance the likes of A Beautiful Mind and Creation with popcorn thrills to keep you bankable at the box-office, but some standards wouldn't go amiss. If that's not possible, why not go the whole hog and sign-up for a three-picture deal with The Asylum?

I can only assume his fee was a sizeable chunk of the $26m budget, it plugged an unexpected gap in his busy schedule, or he simply fancied the opportunity to fire big guns at zombies. And while the production stretches its budget quite well, there remains a feeling that Legion needed more money to do justice to its idea -- particularly when the Archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) arrived to spin around the diner like a winged Tasmanian Devil, twirling a spiked mace.

Next up for the Bettany/Stewart unholy union? An adaptation of vampiric graphic novel Priest. God help us all.

Asides
  • I was astonished and disheartened to realize that actor Lucas Black, who is awful here as Jeep, was once the promising child actor who played Caleb Temple in the short-lived '90s supernatural drama American Gothic. Last I heard he was headlining the second Fast & Furious sequel, and I thought it couldn't get any worse than that. I was wrong.
DIRECTOR: Scott Charles Stewart
WRITERS: Peter Schink & Scott Charles Stewart
CAST: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Kevin Durand, Charles S. Dutton, Jon Tenney & Jeanette Miller
RUNNING TIME: 100 mins. BUDGET: $26m

Blu-ray Review

Picture (2.40:1, 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC) As I've come to expect from Sony, the image quality is pin-sharp with great colour and deep blacks. The disc even preserves some grain to give it that added filmic feel. A top transfer from Sony, but do you expect anything less from the company who pioneered the high-def format in the first place?

Sound (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Track) Likewise, the DTS lossless audio is a thing of beauty and nuance, far outstripping the woeful content. Crisp and atmospheric throughout, there are enough demo-worthy moments to show off your surround sound setup.

Special Features

Creating The Apocalypse (23m, HD) A long featurette that doesn't prove especially interesting, although it does offer a lot of airtime for Doug Jones (the renowned actor often found playing monsters in modern movies). Fast-forward to hear Jones, but skip the rest.

Humanity's Last Line Of Defense: The Cast & Characters (12m, HD) The usual EPK fluff from the cast and director about the movie.

From Pixel To Picture (11m, HD) I'm usually a sucker for special-effects featurettes, but this one with director Stewart (who got his start working for ILM) was actually rather dull. Considering 90% of the movie is effects, this was a disappointment.

Bringing Angels To Earth: Picture-in-Picture: Director Scott Stewart appears in a Maximum Movie Mode-esque visual commentary, talking about the movie as you watch and letting you jump off to explore storyboards, alternate takes and behind-the-scenes material occasionally. Stewart proves himself a blowhard hack, but this is by far the best extra on the disc.

Extras: Has the MovieIQ idea caught on yet? No. Someone tell Sony. Likewise BDLive.