WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 61

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 61st WWW:

1) Legion:
I'm tempted to simply write, “This movie made no ****ing sense.” and move on to my next review. If you've seen the trailer for this mash-up of The Bible and Terminator 2, you've pretty much seen the best parts. At a small diner/gas station in the middle of the desert, a motley crew of actors who normally can act gather to play the survivors of an apocalypse. A pregnant waitress is apparently carrying the (new?) messiah, and God has sent an angel to make sure it isn't born, because he's “tired of all the bull***” or some nonsense like that. But Michael, played by Paul Bettany, rebels, and for some reason not fully explained cuts off his wings and loads up on an arsenal of heavy firearms. Sure, it looks cool, but when we see what a full angel can do later in the film, you have to wonder why he downgraded to fighting the way humans fight. More importantly, you have to wonder why it works. Hordes of possessed people converge on the diner as the plot devolves into your typical horror movie cliché of characters being picked off one by one, in increasingly gory ways. The big twist here is that the possessed people attacking them are being controlled not by demons, but by angels. I would have guessed otherwise from their shark teeth and blackened eyes. There's the creepy and profane old lady from the trailer who skitters up the ceiling, the limb stretching ice cream man(who does absolutely nothing beyond roar, stretch and skitter as shown in the trailer), and a little boy with a knife. Seriously, are we sure these aren't demons? Where are the demons? Why did a television show like Supernatural handle this subject matter twenty times better than a big-budget movie? Why was Lucas Black(the over-accented lead from Tokyo Drift) actually putting on a better performance than veteran actors like Dennis Quaid, and were we expected to take him seriously when his name was “Jeep”? I seriously don't know how Bettany kept such a straight face when telling Jeep his devotion to his father and love for the pregnant waitress was the reason Michael disobeyed God's orders. As Gabriel, Kevin Durand made a great Thanagarian, blocking bullets with metal wings, slicing people, and smashing things with his mace. If this were a real apocalypse, we might have seen more than one of these warriors. Can you really toss a baby around like a football without hurting it? And why would December 23rd mean anything at all to the soldiers of heaven, if the calendar is a manmade creation with holidays assigned to arbitrary dates? I could go on, but I've already wasted too many words on this nonsense. Since they chose to end the story with the same voiceover dialogue they started it with, I'll do something similar with my review: This movie made no ****ing sense.

2) Daybreakers:
It's not often that someone comes up with a novel concept for vampires, especially with the current oversaturation of the genre in our culture. The ‘70s gave us Blade, the daywalker, a vampire created when his mother was bitten while he was in the womb, giving him their abilities without their weakness to sunlight. It wasn't until the late ‘90s that a film series would give him mainstream attention and popularity. For the most part, vampires were either these romanticized old world immortals, or overly theatrical monsters. With Buffy, they were brought in to the modern age, given personalities and contemporary concerns, even if we did get a few period pieces in flashbacks to their early days. I admit I am not the target audience for the Twilight series, and have no interest in angsty teen romance and vampires who sparkle in the sunlight. 30 Days of Night made vampires scary again, and had a unique spin on horror isolation, trapping humans up North in Alaska while being hunted by a predatory pack of bloodsuckers. And then there's True Blood, part Buffy and Twilight for adults, but with richer characters and themes, making vampires “outed” beings trying to fit in to our society like any other oppressed minority. On the one hand there are definite metaphors for the struggles of various groups, but on the other many vampires have shown that humans are right to fear them. Some choose to drink a blood substitute, while others still feast on the real thing. This brings us to Daybreakers, which presents a world in which the vampires have not only assimilated in to society, but they have become society. These are civilized beings in suits and ties, going to work on the subway every day. They drive cars whose windows black out during the day, while a camera shows what's outside. They use camera's and monitors in lieu of mirrors since they cast no reflection but can be captured digitally. Sure, they take blood with their coffee, but on the surface they're not all that different than you or I. But that's the surface. Humans have become the minority, and as a food supply, they're becoming scarce. Without human blood, these civilized vampires are breaking down into their core animal nature. Below the streets they are winged bat creatures with no hair and pointy ears. They feast on each other, and are mad. It's a great concept and unique, and my only real complaint is that I wish they'd done more with it. Ethan Hawke is a hematologist working on a blood substitute(a la True Blood), and for some reason he's sympathetic to humans. He claims it was because his brother turned him against his will, but other than one speech this isn't fleshed out much further. Sam Neill is his boss, a greedy pharmaceutical tycoon who recognizes the demand the population will have for a good substitute. And Willem Dafoe, giving the best performance of the film, is part of the human resistance, and possibly the key to a true cure. I really liked the world the movie created, and wished they'd done a little more with it. Some characters have woefully short arcs. One goes from human to vampire to primal mad vampire to ashes in the span of ten minutes. Hawke's character, as I mentioned, could have had a few more details in his backstory, and he does stumble on a rather radical solution a bit too quickly. Still it was worth the rental, and scores big points on world building and concept alone. There are worse complaints I could have about a movie beyond that it left me wanting more.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



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