Starring Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Timothy Olyphant, Donnie Wahlberg, Ingrid Kavelaars, Alex Campbell, Chera Bailey, Shauna Kain, Campbell Lane, Ty Olsson, Grant Heslov, C. Ernst Harth and Lance Kinsey.
Screenplay by William Goldman and Lawrence Kasdan.
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan.
Distributed by Castle Rock Entertainment. 136 minutes. Rated R.
Stephen King has always been underrated as a novelist. Perhaps because of his mass-popularity, or because his writing tends to be in the frowned-upon horror genre, he has never totally gotten the respect his writing deserves. That said, Dreamcatcher was not one of King’s good novels. Written while he was recovering from debilitating injuries after being run down by a hit-and-run driver, Dreamcatcher was a drug-fueled fever dream that borrowed liberally from one of his earlier books, The Tommyknockers (also not one of his classics.)
More than being a bad book, though, it is a totally uncinematic idea. I have no idea why this story would be filmed when much better recent King novels like Bag of Bones and Black House are available. The story line about four woodsmen who are in the middle of an invasion of killer aliens, which burrow in and out of human bodies, starts out marginally interesting, but soon loses steam.
We are bombarded by ridiculous storylines about a General who is in charge of finding the aliens, who is quickly going crazy. (In case we don’t get the point that he’s based on Marlon Brando’s character in Apocalypse Now, the character has the same name, Kurtz.) Morgan Freeman does what he can in this rather thankless role. Other weird diversions the film makes include a mentally handicapped childhood friend of the hunters, which leads to lots of sub-Stand By Me 1950s flashbacks. Because of the fact that the five friends have a strange psychic bond we see entire scenes that take place in peoples’ minds.
All of this stuff and nonsense is window-dressing, though. The only real point to this film is to show long snake-like creatures with a thousand razor sharp teeth burrowing in and out of human orifices. This may be interesting to the gore-hounds in the audience; most of us will just find it gross, though. A good cast, a very talented director and a screenwriting genius grapple against insurmountable odds trying to reign in all this ridiculousness to make the film make some kind of sense. They really had no chance of pulling it off. (3/03)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2003 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Posted: March 30, 2003.