Movie Reviews 228 – Dreamcatcher (2003)

DreamcatcherThose reading this blog regularly may have noted that in the last few years I’ve gained some admiration of Stephen King and have not only been trying to catch up on my reading (if that was even possible for such a prolific writer) but have developed a keen interest on the many movies and television series developed upon his written works.

I’ve actually been amassing a sizable backlog of DVDs of Stephen King material and so far they have all been enjoyable if not outright fantastic. At the same time I’ve read some not so positive reviews of other more obscure films that I have yet to watch and have been bracing myself for a dud. Dreamcatcher does manage to fall in the questionable category, but it is all the more frustrating because at the same time it has a lot of promising points.

Drawing on the elements of King’s own alien invasion novel/movie “The Mist” and town quarantine films like “The Crazies“, Dreamcatcher also lightly taps other King material including “Stand By Me” (A.K.A “The Body” in novella form) and even a few mystical elements like “The Green Mile“. Add a stellar cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Timothy Olyphant, Tom Sizemore and even Donnie Walberg (he’s actually pretty good for a change) to all those King ingredients and it begins to sound like you can’t lose. But while Dreamcatcher sounds like a great King amalgam that would be sure to satisfy, drawing on so many elements at once seems to be the Achilles’s heel in this case as the story becomes disjointed and plagued with logic flaws.

As kids long ago, four young boys came to the aid of a mentally challenged kid named Duddits who was being bullied. When they befriend Duddits he later endows each of the boys with unique powers in addition to giving them the ability to communicate telepathically with one another. Years later, the boys, now young men, all meet up for their annual winter cabin in the woods get together with plans for later going to see Duddits again after so many years. But when some of the men bring a rescued hunter to the cabin, the hunter’s body soon undergoes some ghastly transformations and soon releases an inner horror. We soon learn that there is a very localized epidemic of such horrors and an elite super secret branch of the services are here to end the onslaught. It seems that this isn’t the first incursion of some grand alien plan and the rescuers will stop at nothing to quash the invasion, including killing any innocent people caught in the net. It’s up to Duddits and the boys to save the day, although whether that means simply stopping the current incursion or stopping the so called ‘good guys’ is up for debate.

There are some decent scenes and nifty wormlike CGI creatures, but there are so many logic lapses and unexplained events that the movie as a whole fails entirely. We have the leader of the elite fighters (Freeman) going a bit bonkers, but even then it’s hard to argue whether his drastic measures were in fact warranted or not. The boys using their ‘powers’ almost comes as a distraction to an otherwise already muddled story. Each of the four protagonists have a glaring character fault, but why that is or how it fits into the story is never reasoned out.

The boys exclaim their favorite tagline of “SSDD” (“Same Shit, Different Day”) throughout the movie, but this may as well apply to the movie itself and there really isn’t anything new or unique. I suppose that this may just be a bad adaptation of the original source, but even given what was filmed, I’m not particularly interested in ever reading the novel to see if it was much better.

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