Volume 96, Issue 92
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

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MOVIE REVIEW: Dreamcatcher

Wake up: Dreamcatcher a real nightmare

Gazette file photo
JASON LEE WATCHES IN AMAZEMENT AS ANOTHER OF HIS MOVIES BOMBS. Even Lee couldn't save Dreamcatcher from getting stuck.

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Tom Sizemore, Timothy Olyphant

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

It's unclear how director Lawrence Kasdan chooses his pictures, but having dabbled in comedy-dramas (The Big Chill), westerns (Wyatt Earp) and romance (French Kiss), Kasdan ends another four-year silence by taking a stab at sci-fi-horror; he must have been blindfolded because Dreamcatcher misses the mark completely.

Yes, the film is adapted from a Stephen King bestseller – all of King's books end up that way; that still doesn't mean the translation to screen will have mass appeal. King can be difficult to adapt, especially when it's one of his grand-scale stories that puts the whole world under the threat of a supernatural force – there is just so much going on that it's difficult to condense into a two-hour film.

With so many mini stories to tell, the final product is a movie that wants to be all things to all people.

There's the tale of supernatural power sparked by a strange mentally-challenged boy nicknamed Duddits: four young men are bonded by a psychic ability acquired during childhood, and the power turns out to be too much to handle.

There's the haunted ghost-in-the-woods story: young men reconvene at a sketchy cabin in the wintry woods. A Native American dreamcatcher is hung in the cabin to catch all nightmares – obviously, they catch something.

There's the viral infection thriller: people and animals fall victim to a spreading disease; cute deer run around with red rash; U.S. officials (Morgan Freeman and Tom Sizemore) are notified.

There's the alien invasion movie a la Independence Day: The cause of the virus is aliens; they must be destroyed! Oh shit, they're laying eggs! (Said aliens are also rendered in conventional alien form: oversized head on gangly, malnourished body).

And finally, there's the campy creature feature: a slimy worm with fangs devours Jason Lee. If you think you still want to see this movie, then go for just this scene, because it's the best thing about it. The little creatures will remind you of Tremors, and the blood and guts will remind you of why you go to horror movies in the first place.

With those worms, Dreamcatcher had the potential to be one of those cult-classic, so-bad-that-it's-good features. Unfortunately, however, the film leans more towards the so-bad-that-it-remains-terrible category – not even campy enough to be entertaining in a "B-movie" sort of way.

The poor script, coupled with a cast stiffer than – well, a cast – doesn't help either. Lee, with his experience in Kevin Smith films, should now be master of the casual buddy-buddy conversation, but he can't do anything with the uninspiring lines he's given. Neither can his co-stars Thomas Jane (The Sweetest Thing), Timothy Olyphant (Go) and Damian Lewis, who play his friends. The dynamics between these friends are so weak, we're not even sure that they are friends.

Dreamcatcher surely has an intriguing and entertaining beginning. But halfway through, there's a scene in which Olyphant is killed by the villain and relative newcomer Lewis gets the unfortunate task of yelling the lines, "You bastard! Nooooooooo!"

That's when you know it's all going to go downhill.


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