*spoiler filled review (you can’t spoil what is already rotten!)*
I’m not a big fan of zombie or vampire movies but give me a good ‘end of the world’ story any day. I’m a sucker for angels, demons, and judgment day movies. However, against the better judgement of my peers, critics, and the entire Western hemisphere (13% on RottenTomatoes), I caught Legion in hopes of having something worthy to review for the faithful readers of B5. I apologize a head of time and please consider this a public service warning to protect your sense of good taste.
Legion starts with less than angelic Michael, played by Paul Bettany (Da Vinci Code, Beautiful Mind), dropping down from the heavens as a rogue agent on a mission of mercy. After inexplicably cutting off his wings, he heads off by car (?) into the darkness (not sure why he couldn’t just land at his destination). Meantime, a motley crue of characters are stranded at a crappy diner in a desolate town called Paradise Falls (I guess referring to Milton’s Paradise Lost?). 8 months pregnant Charlie, gets a visit from a sweet, old grannie traveler that turns out to be a freaky, wall crawling beast. After loss of power, loss of communications, and some serious bug problems, the panicking group is finally visited by the gun-toting Michael. The wingless angel explains that for some reason God is done with humanity and is about to destroy it with an army of heavenly hosts. However, for some inexplicable (you’re going to get tired of this word) reason, Charlie’s baby is the key for mankind’s survival. So like a video game, the new recruits have to gun down wave after wave of angel-possessed human-zombies as they try to break into the diner and kill Charlie’s baby. Eventually, there is a showdown between Gabriel and Michael. Michael somehow dies (I guess he’s a human now?) and returns just in the nick of time to save Charlie and baby for their inexplicable destiny. Whew, the only thing worse that watching it was writing it all out.
Legion had potential. There is not a lot of movies out there about angels, and even fewer that focus on heavenly warfare. The first half of this film sets up ok. The remote diner turns into a ‘haunted house’ with zombies running around outside so that was pretty cool. However, it started to feel like they were trying to tell an ‘end of the world’ story within the confines of an aquarium. Instead of being about epic cataclysmic events, it just turns into a claustrophobic shoot out that takes place in about 2,500 square feet. To make it worst, when the plot tries to shift into high gear, the thing comes apart forcing you to suspend belief and all reason. Why are angels ‘possessing’ the weakling humans and try to zombie-walk their way up to the diner when they could just swoop down and tear the roof off? Why do the ‘angel possessed’ humans look more like demonic zombies? How exactly do bullets stop angels anyways? Angels seem to be able to possess anyone, why can’t they possess the principal characters? How did Paul Bettany get this gig? I’m thinking about this way too much…
By the time it reached its way to cliché, car chasing climax I was kind of hoping the good guys would lose just to see what would happen. The big shocker ending? Michael is elevated back to his angelic status because he was brave enough to turn on God and compassionate enough to save the baby- oh geez. By the end, the good guys win and drive off into the cliché sunset.
Tipped off by the trailer, the special effects are pretty amateur. Certainly nothing you wouldn’t see in a direct to DVD or cable TV program. It also didn’t help that this was one of the first movies for rookie Director Scott Stewart. I could have thought of about 100 other actors other than Paul Bettany to play Michael. His slim build and English accent hardly does the mighty archangel justice. A few of the other characters do an okay job but they had little to work with. A few cool things: The crazy grannie from the trailer was pretty freaky. There is also a brief toddler killer which was disturbing. I thought about 30 seconds of the final showdown between Michael and Gabriel was entertaining. Gabriel flapping around wielding a giant mace and slicing things up with his metallic wings was the best part of the movie. That was it for the likes.
For a movie named Legion, there was nothing big, epic, or interesting about this movie. With the exception of a little gore, this looked like something Christian broadcasting like TBN or Left Behind’s Kirk Cameron would have produced. Which is unfortunate because this is a topic still unexplored. With the right story, director, and budget, the next big genre could be discovered. Until then, I think even God will have trouble forgiving this sinful act.