It's never a good idea to cross Paul Bettany.

(2010) Supernatural Horror (Screen Gems) Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Tenney, Charles S. Dutton, Lucas Black, Adrianne Palicki, Doug Jones, Kevin Durand, Kate Walsh, Willa Holland. Directed by Scott Stewart

Sometimes you have to wonder what God thinks of His creations when He considers war, terror, pollution, greed and all the myriad horrible things we do to one another. You have to wonder if at any point He is going to give up on us.

The angel Michael has pleaded the case of the humans, and failed. God has decided that the Flood was a warning not heeded; He wants the human race deleted. The angels will be His weapons of mass destruction.

Michael, however, disagrees with His decision. He believes that God has forgotten about such things as mercy, compassion and forgiveness in His zeal for retribution. It’s somehow comforting that God is actually a heartbroken teenager.

Michael decides to renounce his angelic status by amputating his wings and removing the collar which is, apparently, his halo. He makes a stop at the local gun store where he fills a bag full of automatic weapons and enough ammo to stave off Armageddon. Well, almost.

He steals a police car and heads out to an isolated diner in the middle of the desert. There works Charlie (Palicki), a waitress who happens to be pregnant. She works for Bob (Quaid) whose nephew Jeep (Black) is sweet on Charlie but is not the dad. So there works Percy (Dutton), a line cook with a caustic sense of humor.

Enjoying the cuisine is Kyle (Gibson), a badass from L.A.; the Anderson family – dad Howard (Tenney), wife Sandra (Walsh) and daughter Audrey (Holland) and an adorable old lady  Like adorable old ladies the world over, she notices Charlie’s pregnancy. Unlike most adorable old ladies, she turns into a spider-like demon with homicidal intent.

Into this situation comes Michael, who informs the suitably astonished diner denizens that Charlie’s baby isn’t just any old baby; it’s the savior of mankind whom God now wants to bump off. Why God needs an army of humans who have been changed by angels into demons to kill a single baby is something of a mystery – apparently God doesn’t like to get His hands dirty.

This leads to something of a Mexican standoff with the human race at stake. The odds are stacked against us – but that’s just the way we like it, right?

This is a plot of epic ineptitude. Very little of it makes organic sense and worse yet, it isn’t true to its own internal logic. That’s a deal killer most of the time in my book. The strange thing is, I actually liked this movie. Much more than I thought I was going to. There is actually some good stuff going on.

Bettany is an always-interesting actor who is always worth seeing even when he’s not at his best – as he is not at his best here. Still, he and Quaid who cuts loose with delicious scenery-chewing abandon make for good twin focuses for the film. While Palicki is a little bit bland for her role, Black does himself proud as the unrequited lover.

Part of the problem here is that Stewart seems undecided as to whether he wants to make a big action flick or a gruesome horror flick and winds up with kind of a mish mash that is neither. Also, much of the exposition is done by Bettany explaining things to his captive audience. Not only does this bring things to a grinding halt, it gets to be annoying.

I wish that Stewart spent more time doing the things that work best here. The horror scenes in particular are well done, such as the aforementioned adorable old lady spider demon, and later on, an elongated jaw ice cream man demon. The action sequences are pretty nice too, although a climactic battle between Michael and the Archangel Gabriel (Durand) is surprisingly unsatisfying.

Legion is the latest in a series of apocalyptic visions that don’t really turn out quite right. I like the idea of angels acting as exterminators, as perhaps sacrilegious as that is. Unfortunately, it was done better in The Prophecy – but it is done well enough here to earn a look.

WHY RENT THIS: Some nice action scenes here. Bettany and Quaid pull the wagon nicely. Demon scenes are pretty awesome.  

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Too talky for a horror/action movie. One gets the impression the filmmakers couldn’t decide between intellectual horror and visceral horror and wound up with neither.

FAMILY VALUES: Lots of strong, brutal violence, some disturbing supernatural imagery and plenty of choice bad words.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The tattoos on Michael are in Enochian, supposedly the language of angels recorded by John Dee and Edward Kelly in the 16th century.


BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $67.9M on a $26M production budget; the movie made money.


TOMORROW: Season of the Witch


New Releases for the Week of January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010

Someone’s got to do something about that overbite.


(Screen Gems) Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Charles S. Dutton, Adrianne Palicki, Jon Tenney, Lucas Black, Kate Walsh. Directed by Scott Stewart

God has lost faith in mankind again and who can blame him? The last time he got annoyed at his kids, he sent a flood – the Biblical equivalent of a time-out. Now, he’s really pissed and he’s sending out his angels to kick booty and take names. Except these aren’t the slightly effeminate harp-playing pansies you’re thinking about, oh no. These angels are bad mother fu (shut your mouth!)…you get my drift. However, mankind has one last hope; in the unborn son of a waitress in a diner in the middle of nowhere. One angel who thinks God is full of it decides to take it upon himself to save mankind. And that’s when things get really weird…

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, and language)

Extraordinary Measures

(CBS) Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, Courtney B. Vance. The inspiring true story about John Crowley, a man who defied the odds and conventional medical wisdom to save his children who were suffering from a rare, fatal and incurable disease. He enlisted the aid of Robert Stonehill, a brilliant but underappreciated scientist whose unorthodox methods had brought him the scorn of his colleagues. Given a challenge by Crowley, he would race against time to find the cure. They would battle the pharmaceutical industry, the medical profession, time – and each other – to find a cure.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG (for thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment)

Tooth Fairy

(20th Century Fox) Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews, Stephen Merchant. The dirtiest hockey player in the league has a penchant for causing an immediate and urgent need for dental work among opposing players, and he enjoys the work. However, he takes it a step too far when he dashes the hopes of a child – it’s apparently okay to cause pain and suffering in adults, but make a kid feel bad and it’s a BIG NO-NO!!!! He is sentenced to act as a tooth fairy, complete with tutu and fairy wings, until he sees the error of his ways. Me, I think The Rock’s agent should be sentenced to something nasty.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG (for mild language, some rude humor and sports action)

To Save a Life

(Goldwyn) Randy Wayne, Deja Kreutzberg, Joshua Weigel, Steven Crowder. Jake Taylor has it all from a high school perspective. A star basketball player, he’s been offered a scholarship to a prestigious school, he has the love and admiration of the students and all the cheerleaders fawning over him like he’s starring in the next installment of the Twilight series. Then, when his best friend from childhood commits an unspeakable act, he is forced to re-examine his values and his life choices.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements involving teen suicide, teen drinking, some drug content, disturbing images and sexuality)