Sunday, 10 August 2014
"Biblical Terminator meets Night of the Living Dead."
I imagine that's pretty much the elevator pitch I they made for Legion, and to be honest it's not a bad one. Alas, I think the film makes a couple of missteps and they prevent me from pushing it into the qualified recommendation category.
It does come pretty close to that category, mostly because of its much-better-than-expected cast. I mean seriously, go check it out on IMDB and wonder what all these talented people are doing in this.
So where do I think the movie falls down? Well mostly in making the Arnie-in-T2 analogue be the protagonist of the film. This robs the Sarah Connor analogue of the character arc she needs for us to buy her as the mother of humanity's hope, and it also makes the supposedly climactic battle of the film not terribly climactic. There are other structural weaknesses in the film, and I'll point at least one more out later, but that's the big one.
We start off with some explosions and possession-type goings on in LA, then head out to the middle of nowhere and the 'Paradise Falls' rest stop. That's a rather on-the-nose name given the film's subject matter. It's also the name of the slaver camp in Fallout 3, which amused me.
In any case, we meet pregnant waitress Charlie, rest stop owner Ben, and his son Jeep and fry cook Percy. We also meet the handful of customers they're dealing with. And then a little old lady rocks up and - after a few pleasantries - launches a savage assault on them. You can see this coming, of course, but it's still quite effectively done.
They manage to put the old lady down, which is when a stranger named Michael - who we met in the LA sequence - turns up with bad news. God's lost faith in mankind again, and instead of sending a flood, this time he's sending angels to possess 'the weak' and turn them into an army to wipe out humanity. Charlie's son is the only hope humanity has, so they have to keep her and the baby alive.
I kind of like the sly 'meek shall inherit the Earth' thing here, and the fact that the horrid creatures who subsequently attack are actually angels, but it's not really developed beyond that. Also not really developed is why Charlie's unborn son is so important, or how Michael knows it (I guess he is an Archangel, but still ...).
The film rather loses its way here. The angels' attack on the rest stop isn't that exciting, and once it is done there's quite a lull while the various human characters make intermittent attempts to be developed enough that we might care if they live or die. (These efforts mostly fail, since it's laughably easy to work out who is going to make it)
Oh, and Charlie has her baby in like 60 seconds flat. And women say this childbirth thing is difficult! They just need to be in a movie and it would be much easier.
Anyway, we move on with a big fight sequence that's entirely pointless since it is between Michael and the Archangel Gabriel and it's Charlie and her son who actually matter, and then pretty much get a literal Deus Ex Machina to end things.
Some promise in the premise, but the film fails in the execution. A shame.