Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

Released in 2003, certified UK-15. Reviewed on 26 Apr 2003 by Craig Eastman
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Where to begin to begin to begin...ah yes, this movie damn well sucks the big one. How's that? I'm afraid I shall have to adopt the verbal attitude of a World Diatribe Championships finalist to make my way through this review, so anyone offended by bad grammar and rude words should go make a cup of tea. And get me some tranquillisers while you're at it.

In the world of Stephen King, things are extremely simple; one dusts off one's typewriter every few months, churns out nonsensical pap for teenagers and imaginatively redundant adults to rave about for ever more, then sits back and waits for Captain Hollywood to knock on one's door and offer a huge wad of cash to turn an already ridiculously lengthy glorified short story into an even longer film. Bravo. And good luck to him. My only regret is that many, many innocent lives will be shortened by two and a quarter hours after blindly stumbling into a multiplex and announcing "Wow, that Dreamcatcher's got Stephen King and lots of effects in it!", before handing over five pounds for the privilege of having your intelligence blindly raped by the ensuing travesty.

Here's the science bit; as is the norm for King stories, a group of childhood friends (yawn) from Maine (WIBBLE WobbLE) share a deep and dark/mystical experience (yawn) that effects them for the rest of their lives (yawn) and binds them together into their late twenties (f-u-c-k-i-n-g YAWN). Some are professionals, some hold relatively menial jobs, but my how their friendship has stayed strong. Here, our four protagonists Henry (Thomas Jane), Beaver (Jason Lee), Jonesy (Damian Lewis) and Pete (Timothy Olyphant) saved a retarded youngster lovingly called Duddits (played as an adult by Donnie Wahlberg) from a gang of bullies as children, and he bestowed upon them wonderful gifts such as being able to read minds (blah) and the ability to find any object or person over a distance by thought alone (bLaH BlAh). This turns out to be handy, because during their annual retreat to a secluded snowy cabin where they go to be Really Good Mates there is an alien invasion, and the shape-shifing blighters start infecting people so nobody knows who is good and who is bad! Blimey! How brilliant!

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In come the military to mop things up, led by alien invasion-weary Colonel Abraham Curtis (Morgan Freeman), who arrives on the scene talking about aliens and giant worms with teeth as though the situation is just like a trip to Sainsbury's to buy a loaf of bread. "I'm too old for this shit!" he says, or something like it, and duly puts Captain Owen Underhill (not a Hobbit, but rather Tom Sizemore) in charge of proceedings. Alarm bells are ringing. When Morgan "will act for food" Freeman can't be bothered with the whole thing from the offset, an audience should be asking itself wether it should indulge any of it's attention either. And the answer is "JESUS NO! SAVE YOURSELVES BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!".

Giant worms start popping out of people's arses, huge alien "greys" start walking about like it's fucking family day at the local park, Jonesy is possessed by the chief alien whom Duddits refers to as "Mr. Gay" (no, really), and all the time everyone makes the mistake of acting like this is to be taken seriously, whilst spouting some of the worst King dialogue we've yet heard. Thirty minutes in and I had to visit the toilet, having been already only forty minutes previously. Did I need to go? No, but I did feel compelled to make some kind of statement without having the indecency to subject the audience to the sight of Craig Disko miturating over a cinema screen.

Not that anyone would have noticed mind you, since the on-screen activities were so frequently and inexplicably hilarious that many, our very own Rhythmwiz included, joined me in my act of defiance by involuntarily pissing in their own trousers with sheer laughter. At this point I am aware of the fact that I've lowered the tone of the site somewhat, so allow me to justify my comments.

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The problem with Stephen King stories is that in all honesty, despite the occasional good idea, the man can't write worth a shit. His characterisation is crass; his dialogue is jilted and wholly unnatural, as though he's imagining in his head what would sound cool, only he hasn't a clue what a normal person would really sound like; his settings are dull and bleak; ninety percent of what he writes is his own nonsense regurgitated from stories he wrote ten years previously; BREEEEAAAAATH. Best of all, to disguise how shallow and downright pathetic his works are, he shrouds the story in crass mysticism and oblique occurring references to cod symbolism in an attempt to fool us into thinking any of it has any kind of a deeper relevance or hidden meaning.

The problem, or rather problems with Dreamcatcher are that A) screenwriter William Goldman hasn't the sense nor decency to filter out the utter shite King is dribbling on about and leave us with a script that focuses on the frightening and more earthed ideas, and B) director Lawrence Kasdan hasn't the sense nor decency to filter out the utter shite that Goldman didn't filter out either. The result is an absolute bloody mess, and an affront to the cast and crew, the studio, and the poor sod who walks in off the street expecting something, nay anything engaging for his hard earned green sheets.

Kasdan hasn't a clue what to do with the camera either in or out of the editing suite, and I really do feel heartfelt sympathy for the cast, who in their favour give it their best shot, especially Damian Lewis who has to pretend he's two different characters, one of them burdened by a silly, silly, silly English accent and borderline slapstick mannerisms. Freeman is the only one who sensibly makes no attempt to act, his character apparently going insane, yet the great man making no attempt to convey any emotion at all other than via the "I want my fucking paycheque" method.

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I could go on, you know. Ah, fuck it, I will...

In trying to ape the big visual effects feeling of Independence Day and combining it with the alien invasion and shape-shifting "is-he-or-isn't-he?" tension of The Thing, those responsible have clearly forgotten coherency and believability. An audience can be expected to suspend disbelief for a reasonable time if the onscreen action is worthy of compelling them to do so. Here such little effort, or rather such huge contempt is expended on creating an engrossing and intelligent narrative that disbelief is depth-charged several thousand feet to the oceanic bed of silt-covered cinematic craftmanship. It is then picked at by deep-sea crabs and parasites, molested blatantly in full view of all the little fishes by several grossly indecent yams, before finally being digested by a giant squid and shat out as some infinitely more useful crustaceous ink that nobody outside of a deep sea submersible will ever have to look at again. Jings.

Does my contempt show? Good. Never scary, never thrilling and certainly never in the least bit creatively interesting, Dreamcatcher is the runt of the CG-fuelled, aesthetic-obsessed sci-fi litter. Nobody has sat down and considered whether this should actually have been made, rather they have perpetuated a myth that anything Stephen King commits to paper must immediately be purchased, bastardised even further than it is at it's conception, and then spat out for indifferent consumer consumption by the increasingly apathetic masses.

I am sick and tired of millions of dollars being thrown at silly, childish, mortally flawed pseudo-entertainment such as this, and you should be too. If you have a decent, self-preserving bone in your body and five quid in your sky rocket do yourself a favour and set light to it. The ensuing conflagration will be brighter, more animated, more meaningful and more downright entertaining than this pile of yak shit. God, I could go on further but I'd rather you didn't know any more.

Incidentally, there were lots of slugs slithering over the decking when I came home from the cinema tonight. It was kind of damp, mind you.

Craig Disko has granted Dreamcatcher 1 out of 5 Disko Bum Nuggets, avoiding a 0 only because that's been reserved for Baise-moi. Now don't get him started again...

Lawrence Kasdan
Cast list:
Thomas Jane (Dr. Henry Devlin)
Jason Lee (Joe 'Beaver' Clarendon)
Damian Lewis (Professor Gary 'Jonesy' Jones)
Timothy Olyphant (Pete Moore)
Donnie Wahlberg (Douglas 'Duddits' Cavell)
Morgan Freeman (Colonel Abraham Curtis)
Tom Sizemore (Captain Owen Underhill)