Legion (DVD)

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Now available on DVD & Blu-Ray

Cast:

Paul Bettany as Michael

Lucas Black as Jeep

Dennis Quaid as Bob

Adrianne Palicki as Charlie

Charles S. Dutton as Percy

Tyrese Gibson as Kyle

Kevin Durand as Gabriel

Directed by Scott Stewart

Review:

I’m no historian, but one has to wonder if 2010 is really the time when God would finally severe his relationship with humans. Are we at our worst now? Legion seems to think so, opening with a Psalm about fearing the Lord and a young woman’s voice explaining her mother’s prophecy about a world of darkness due to God’s anger at his children.

The girl in question, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), is eight months pregnant. She works as a waitress in a desolate roadside diner (in Paradise Falls no less, not to be confused with Up‘s Paradise Falls). The bad news for Charlie is that her mother was right and the Apocalypse is near. The good news is that her unborn son will eventually save mankind. More bad news: God has sent an army of angels to find her and kill the fetus.

Enter the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany). He has decided to defy God and put his faith in humanity. He will do whatever it takes to protects Charlie’s baby, including cutting off his wings and arming himself in a manner that would render Rambo speechless. Michael descends upon the diner after the first angel attack, quickly explaining to the horrified and confused motley crew assembled there that God hates them and has sent the demon legions to exterminate mankind.

The ragtag bunch at the diner is your typical random group so popular in Hollywood, each given one distinguishing characteristic intended to stand in for character development. So Charlie is troubled but kind-hearted beneath the jaded exterior; the diner’s owner is a bitter, cynical middle-aged man whose wife left him; his son is a do-gooder hopelessly devoted to Charlie; a black man has a gun and shady past. There’s even an old wise black guy to round things out. Legion‘s problems have nothing to do with one-dimensional characters though, especially since a pretty solid group of actors portray them, like Lucas Black (Jarhead), Charles S. Dutton (Gothika), and Dennis Quaid (on a horror kick with this and Pandorum).

There is a whole lot of religious hokum, mostly concerning hope and faith, rendering Legion more religious drama than horror movie. Dialogue like “you have to get close to lost to be found” is cringe-worthy, and the mumbo jumbo is about as deep as the shallow end of a kiddie pool. Excessive melodrama also seeps in much too often, with one character moping about how worthless they are only to be told how wonderful they truly are by their confidant.

It also doesn’t help that there is so much downtime in between infrequent bursts of action. That gives the bland characters far too much time to blather on and brings the movie to a screeching halt. There are a few cool set pieces and some nifty effects, but they are few and far between.

This brings me to a mini-rant about studios and trailers. Obviously they have a product to sell, but must they give away everything cool in the trailer? Two of Legion‘s highlights (old lady ceiling crawl and ice cream man attack) were prominently featured in every single piece of advertising I saw. When half of your best sequences are given away up front, it sure doesn’t help the final product.

An awkward mix of the sacred and the profane (all of the F-bombs make it feel like a hybrid of Tarantino and a church service), the competent cast and sporadic bursts of life keep Legion from being a total wash, but it all adds up to very little. Aggressively mediocre from beginning to end.

The extra features run the gamut from great to poor while also serving as a reminder that there is some pretty superb effects work in the movie. The first extra is also the best. Creating the Apocalypse – Behind the Physical Effects is a 23-minute, comprehensive look at the special effects make-up. Incorporating test footage, 3D pre-visualization, and storyboards, the cast and crew explain how make-up effects were used in all of the major sequences, including the ice cream man (more practical and less CG than I expected) and the baby. An in-depth and compelling feature.

Next comes the worst. Humanity’s Last Line of Defense – The Cast and Characters is 11 painful minutes of the actors and director talking about how everyone is awesome and amazing and wonderful to work with. This is a truly useless feature that offers nothing remotely insightful or interesting. Only worth watching if you’re the world’s biggest Dennis Quaid fan and you desperately want to know how much he loved working with the director.

Finally, From Pixels to Picture – A Look at the Visual Effects runs a fairly brief 10 minutes and chronicles the CG, green screen, and other visual effects in the movie. The director and the visual effects supervisors discuss enhancing practical effects, creating a CG character, and more. A nice compliment to the first feature.