Posted: 03/26/2003




by Del Harvey

You’d think with this much talent gathered together, Dreamcatcher would be a pretty good little scare. Think again…

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Dreamcatcher, as the trailers aptly portray, begins as the story of some friends who share a commonality, which in this case is the gift of telepathy. This sort of thing has become nearly a staple of much of Stephen King’s works: Stand By Me, The Stand, etc. However, something happened in the translation from book to screen, and what is revealed to us in the film version is practically unbearable. If I were Mr. King, I would have my name taken off and the title of the film changed.

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon) and co-written by Kasdan and William Goldman (Marathon Man, The Princess Bride, Magic), Dreamcatcher the film seems to have gained its heady bevy of first-rate actors based solely on the merits of filmmaker, screenwriter, and original author. I cannot imagine any of these actors having actually read the script. They must have better taste than this, or else they were blind drunk when their agents had them glance at it.

The film opens strongly, telling the story of childhood friends who share telepathy unified by a mentally retarded kid they protect, and grow to learn how their telepathic powers can be both blessing and curse. The boys grow to young men, played Thomas Jane (The Sweetest Thing, *61), Jason Lee (A Guy Thing, Chasing Amy), Damian Lewis and Timothy Olyphant (A Man Apart). The adult retarded male is portrayed quite well by Donnie Wahlberg (TV’s Boomtown). When one of them has a sudden accident, the boys go on a sojourn to the woods, where the hunters turn into the hunted as they are attacked by alien creatures. Not long after, a very uncharacteristic Morgan Freeman - done up with these lifelike caterpillar eyebrows and inflated deltoid muscles! - and his band of military specialists, including the always excellent Tom Sizemore (who is about the only one who manages to rise above this dreck), show up to do battle against the aliens, who like to take over human bodies until they’ve had their fill of us.

Perhaps you can see the dilemma here; the first half of the film is not much at all like the second half. It is so bad that I sat there with my eyes bugging while my brain unfroze. As soon as I accepted the fact that what I was watching was indeed the same film and had indeed taken a wrong turn and was indeed becoming progressively more unwatchable with each passing minute. Indeed. As Bart Simpson would say, “Craptacular!”

Instead of paying good money to watch a bad film, go outside and kick a tire, bark at a dog, or chase your neighbors around the block. Even if you get arrested, you’ll have a better time than you will watching this wretched mess.

Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly. He is a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.

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