Over the years I have watched more horror films than I can keep track of. Within my circle of friends I have acquired a reputation for watching just about anything, no matter how good or bad the film may be. I would even admit to owning some films that have shocked quite a number of people. I thoroughly enjoy the sexploitation films the feature Pam Grier, I seek out b-rated horror films and sometimes find a charm like The Trilogy of Terror, and I even brave those films that have been hidden behind other DVDs long enough to collect dust. Yes, I watch just about anything. However, over the past few years I have come to expect certain things out of specific films or directors of said films. Sometimes those expectations are met and others leave me sitting at a buffet table spattered in human remains feeling starved because what I though out be the beginning appetizer ended up being the entire feast.
I went out tonight expecting to be given an all you can eat horror feast from the new release Legion. What I was given was a few decent appetizers, an entree that looked delicious but had not flavor, and a desert that included freezer burnt ice cream. The film's marketing/PR team did one hell of a job getting the word out, but for the articles that I read regarding the film I did not get what I was being sold. I was pumped up and ready to go on the wild ride in the tiny dinner in the hopes to save mankind, but as I sat in the dark theater I had a hard time focusing on the action.
With this film being Scott Stewart's directorial debut, I felt slightly overwhelmed by some of his shooting choices. I looked forward to seeing what he would have in store for us, but the final product left me with a slightly empty feeling. It reminded me of what it felt like to watch Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds where I expected the film to be similar to his previous projects but was not given the blood and violence I have come to associate with Tarantino films. I expected to see certain things as they were described in detail in horror magazines, but the images they painted for me were none existant. Granted they may have just ended up on the cutting room floor, but for whatever reason I was not given what appeared to be a promising film. The only other thing I can think is that maybe it was his choice in shooting style and cast that limited things. Not only will you not think of angels in quite the same way, but you will never be able to hear an ice cream truck and feel that warm, joyous feeling knowing that the ice cream man is coming. Then again the ice cream man has never really been one of the friendliest people in my personal experience.
With a surprise in cast, you are left wondering why some of the actors were cast in their respective roles. Some should never be let into the horror genre again, as they were just not believable outside of their track record in ABC drama series. And even though I did love the 'darkness' of the film, I hoped for a little bit of light so that I could at least see some of the blood and violence that was taking place. With a large portion of the film taking place during the night or in a boarded up diner, the shadows hide the aspects of the film that made it so appealing. I wanted to be able to see what was going on, and not just witness a split second because it was mixed with the shadows and curtains. I know film is all about the power of illusion and the magic that happens behind the wizard's curtain, but this film's curtain was larger than was necessary. We were also teased with the promise of mass carnage, and then left hanging as the film quickly moved right from one thought to another.
Paul Bettany was by far the best part of the film. Michael was not only the most interesting character in the entire film, the most believable, but even as a "mortal" he kicked more ass than could have been expected. His introduction is where i felt a bit of a lack-luster. I wanted to witness his change from angel to mortal that Fangoria had promised us but it was nothing but shadows and dark clouds in the form of silhouettes. If only Bettany's influence had empowered the rest of the film. It wasn't until the battle between angles did we get another surge of hope for the film to turn around. The fight was fun, like any good fight should be. But the dialog was so painful the there was little that could be done for the film before it ended.
Legion showed a young director on his way to beginning his career. The writing was lacking, but the idea and concept was a nice take on a story that has been played in several different notes. The film is not horrible, but do not go in expecting more than what it is. If you take the film as just that, you may get enough to enjoy it, otherwise it can just be written off as first film and we can look forward to hoping for a slightly better take during round two in Scott Stewart's next film Priest which is due to hit theaters next month. I give this film a 2.5 out 5.