From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Monday, January 18, 2010

Legion - C-

Rated R for strong bloody violence, and language, 100 minutes

Ridiculous apocalyptic thriller "Legion" an entertaining mess

The end is near, and it's only January, according to the confusing new apocalyptic thriller "Legion." An eclectic cast, a unique premise and some fun visuals are wasted beneath a very disjointed, lackluster script and awful dialogue. The film all but throws caution (not to mention the Bible) to the wind, particularly in its over-the-top finale, leaving the film a mess, but at least it's an enjoyable, entertaining mess.

God loses faith in humanity and begins to execute Armageddon quite differently than expected, using his angels to exterminate mankind. Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to go along with God's plan and is thrown out of heaven. Michael goes to an out-of-the-way diner in Arizona and finds himself trapped along with a few remaining humans to protect a young, pregnant waitress (Adrianne Palicki) whose baby is the key to saving the world. The owner of the diner (Dennis Quaid), his estranged son (Lucas Black), their one-armed cook (Charles S. Dutton) and a few stranded travelers (Tyrese Gibson, Kate Walsh, Jon Tenney and Willa Holland) are the strangers brought together for a single cause: to save mankind.

"Legion" is a chaotic, preposterous but energetic mess, fun but confusing to watch. The film starts out well, introducing a few engaging characters and setting up a few decent action set pieces, in spite of the terrible dialogue given the proflic cast ("It's the end of the world, but you still have to eat," says Quaid's character). The film's most memorably fun scene occurs in "Legion's" first act and involves an elderly, demonic lady who causes considerable havoc in the diner.

"Legion's" premise, as interesting as it is, isn't quite fleshed out, and the details of God's plan and the plan for the baby are extremely fuzzy at times, never quite explaining why God woke up and decided to exterminate humankind with some possessed angels.

The real demon here is the hack editing job in addition to the disjointed script and direction from "Legion's" newbie director Scott Stewart, leaving the audience with some confusing details: why do the angels drive cars - aren't they angels - can't they just fly?, what's up with all the pesky flies, and what's Kate Walsh, from TV's "Private Practice," even doing in this movie in the first place? Utterly wasted, her character's motivations are obviously left on the cutting room floor (in one scene she's drinking a beer, the next she's tied to a chair), along with the much of the plot. As a matter of fact, all of the characters, especially those played by established actors (particularly Quaid and Dutton) seem expendable at some point.

What we do know about "Legion" is that it sets up a cool (but needless) fight scene between the athletic Michael (Bettany, in great shape, making Michael a smooth operator) and a hulking Gabriel ("Lost's" Kevin Durand) in the film's final section, and its baffling, heavy-handed ending may or may not leave it open to more of these. What's more, a comic book series is set to follow the release of the film that is designed to be a prequel to "Legion," which may hopefully explain its confounding backstory.

A handful of nice action scenes and some decent visuals near the end are about the only thing worth mentioning about the badly edited, messy but mildly entertaining "Legion," but one thing it doesn't do is exactly instill faith in the quality of movies released in January. Have fun, ask for forgiveness later.