Dominion: ‘Legion’ on the Small Screen and More Popular Than the Film

Dominion: ‘Legion’ on the Small Screen and More Popular Than the Film

In 2010 Bold Films made Legion it opened to mediocre reviews and a lukewarm reception from the public, now Dominion, on the SyFy channel tells the story of what happens after the film and it is proving to be much more popular than the Dennis Quaid vehicle ever was. The story of mankind’s continuing fight against the angels of heaven takes place in the ruins of Las Vegas, although the story is about a “chosen one” who will help man win, it is also about subterfuge and power struggles on both sides

Michael Chiklis in American Horror Story: Will He Be the Geek?

Michael Chiklis in American Horror Story: Will He Be the Geek?

The news that Michael Chiklis is now a member of the regular cast in American Horror Story season four, titled Freak Show, brings one question to mind; will he be the geek? Of course, the type of geek being portrayed in a television show about a freak show, will not fit the modern “definition” of the word. Being a geek now entails being a cross of eccentric overly intelligent individual and an expert in any given area.

Horsemen (2009): Apocalyptic Film with no Apocalypse

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The 2009 film Horsemen, written by David Callaham  and directed by Joss Ackerlund stars Dennis QuaidZiyi ZhangLou Taylor Pucci and has a tiny cameo by Peter Stormare. It is a dark, moody, and overall unsatisfying film that does not so much end as run out of steam.

The film’s plot takes far too long in deciding whether it wants to be a supernatural thriller based on the Biblical reference in Revelations of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse or follow the more mundane, but rather chilling device of “normal” people using the horsemen as a reference in their grizzly countdown to a more personal apocalypse.

Quaid’s character of the widowed detective, Aiden Breslin is too self absorbed to evoke much in the way of viewer empathy and his oldest son, played by Pucci, is too passively aggressive to be likeable or to care much about. The film is full of too many incidents that have no logical trail to the events.  For instance, the significance  of the derelict Metropolitan theatre is never disclosed. So that Aiden’s returning to the theatre and the film’s final climatic scenes taking place there make no sense.

The apocalyptic theme of the film Horsemen could have used more in the way of an apocalypse with its ending. The climax of the movie was anything but. Unfortunately the lack of a satisfactory ending of the film also carried over into the characters.

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Ziyi Zhang, often referred to as the most beautiful woman in the film business, was once again put into the part of villain. It seems that Hollywood loves to take popular Chinese actors and make them villains. Ziyi, who leapt to stardom with western audiences with her performances in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, makes a good villain. If you don’t believe me, just watch Rush Hour 2, but she is ultimately wasted in the role of Peter Stormare’s adopted daughter who embraces the Biblical references for her, and other young people’s, own end.

Like the film itself, her character is left dangling at the end with no real closure in the area of her involvement with Detective Breslin.

The biggest problem with the film was its almost crawling pace. Everything appeared to moving at the speed of treacle sliding down an incline. There is no real action to speak of, except hear the end of the film and it is fleeting. A blink and you will miss it both times that it occurs.

I had tried to watch this film once before. Being a Dennis Quaid fan, I felt I had to see all of the film. Sadly the ending did not justify the amount of time it took to sit through two, one of which was incomplete, viewings.

I have nothing against films that move at a more languid pace. I enjoyed Stoker quite a lot, but the pacing of that film had a purpose, whereas Horsemen felt like it was wandering aimlessly through its storyline and only grudgingly revealing itself now and again. An almost frustrating, if not boring experience.

Fans of Quaid, Zhang and the delightful Peter Stormare would do better to avoid this particular film unless there really is nothing else to watch. Not a bad film, but more of a boring one.  A rather disappointing effort from all concerned. Horsemen is an apocalyptic film with no apocalypse and little in the way of entertainment. Horsemen is currently playing on the UK Netflix.

Quaid

Dreamscape (1984): Inceptions Pappa

Cover of "Dreamscape"
Cover of Dreamscape

Directed by Joseph Ruben (The StepfatherThe ForgottenDreamscape  is about dreaming, going into someone else’s dream and controlling it.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The concept has been used to great effect in two other films. The Cell (2000) and Inception (2010) both utilized the plot device of entering another person’s dreams and either controlling or changing them. All three films are very different from Dreamscape, but it is obviously this film that spawned the latter two.

Starring a young Dennis Quaid (Pandorum, Legion), younger Max von Sydow (Shutter IslandMinority Report), Christopher Plummer (Up, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomSpaceCamp) and Eddie Albert  (The Longest Yard, Escape to Witch Mountain) the film delivers an entertaining punch.

Dreamscape deals with entering dreams via psychic powers and a little help from machinery that lets the psychic know when the target has started the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) that shows they have started dreaming.

The film opens with a woman running from what looks like a nuclear blast. The whole scene is surrealistic and the colours run together in a psychedelic fashion. We are watching the United States President (Eddie Albert) have a nightmare. It turns out that he has nuclear nightmares on a regular basis.

We then see Alex Gardiner (Dennis Quaid) at the race track. Using his precognitive skills, he successfully picks a long shot to win. When he goes to collect his winnings a gang of crooks try to take his money and make him work for them. Alex evades the crooks and goes home.

Once he is there, he gets a phone call from old friend and mentor Doctor Paul Novotny (Max Von Sydow) who wants him to participate in his new dream experiments. To escape the crooks,who have found out where Alex lives, he decides to take up the offer.

Once there he talks to his mentor and meets his assistant Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw). He decides to give the experimental programme a go after he meets the man who runs it, Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer)

It turns out that only two of the psychics in the group are skilled enough to really change someone else’s dreams. Alex and a psychotic psychic named  Tommy Ray Glatman (David Patrick Kelly).

We find out two things about Tommy Ray. We learn that he killed his own father and that he has known Bob Blair a long time.

The film moves at a leisurely pace. This does not distract, however, as the action on the screen is still interesting even if it’s not fast paced. At one point Alex enters a young boys dream to help him defeat a “snake-man” who keeps trying to harm him. Alex enables the boy to face his personal monster in the dream and kill it

The overall FX of the film have not aged well. The monster was from the Ray Harryhausen school of stop motion. It did not convince at any time. It looked so much like  The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, that I reverted to childhood for a brief moment. But apart from feeling nostalgic, I did not get anything from the snake-man.

The film features a romance between Quaid and Capshaw. The villain, as portrayed by Christopher Plummer, along with his henchman Tommy Ray  makes us want to hiss and boo each time we see him on screen.

The film’s plot was entertaining and interesting enough that the dated FX did not spoil it at all. Unfortunately, as I have seen The Cell and Inception recently, I could not help but compare the three films.

The Cell dealt more with the technological aspect of entering dreams. Anyone could be hooked up to a machine which would enable them to enter another persons dream. Inception required that both people received injections to make them sleep deep enough that they could enter the trance-like state necessary to enter another’s dreams.

I would say that this film is definitely worth watching. If for no other reason than to see what started the whole dream mechanic utilized in the other two films. It’s also got a sterling cast of seasoned actors who deliver solid performances.

Dreamscape won’t give you nightmares, but it will entertain you.

Rise (2007) Drink Like an Egyptian

Rise: Blood Hunter

Written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez and starring Lucy Liu and Michael Chiklis, Rise was Gutierrez’s third time at bat as a director. Despite the talented cast and taut storyline, Rise on it’s release got a pretty poor reception. It received a 33% from Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.0 on IMDb.

Lucy Lui plays Sadie Blake a reporter who specializes in doing undercover work and showing the ‘underbelly’ of society.

She gets a tip from a colleague who works as a computer ‘Hacker’ and he has traced a reference to a Goth Vampire Cult that is meeting in Korea Town.

Sadie decides to follow up the lead. When she reaches the address of the meeting place, it is deserted except for the blood that adorns the floors and walls.

She is knocked unconscious by Bishop’s servant Poe (Mako in his last live action role) and taken to the leader of the vampires Bishop (James D’Arcy) who questions Sadie and then with the help of Eve (Carla Gugino) rapes, tortures and murders her.

She wakes up in a drawer in the morgue. She realizes pretty quickly that she is now a member of the un-dead. She leaves the hospital and eventually finds her way to Arturo (Julio Oscar Mechoso) who is also a vampire.

Julio Oscar Mechoso in January 2009

Sadie explains that she wants to kill Bishop and Arturo agrees to help, it appears that he and Bishop are in some sort of power struggle.

While tracking Bishop down, Sadie gets arrested by cop Clyde Rawlins (Michael Chiklis). Rawlins lost his daughter to Bishop and his life has been all but destroyed by this event.

rise_blood_hunter
rise_blood_hunter (Photo credit: perry_marco)

Sadie finally convinces Clyde to help her take Bishop down. Clyde agrees and the two work together.

I enjoyed this film a lot. There were areas that were a bit vague  or not explained very well, but the sheer speed of the film and its action made up for this.

I liked Lucy Lui’s character as well as Michael Chiklis’s. I also like the ‘Egyptian’ looking small knife that the vampires used to cut their victims. It made me think of the Ankh symbol used by the Egyptian vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) in The Hunger (1983).

I love good vampire films and to me this jumped into the ‘top twenty list’ of my favourites. It is worth a watch just to see Mako in his last action role.

Mako Iwamatsu