Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Film Review: Legion

IT is often said that the Lord works in strange ways. Director Scott Stewart apparently thinks so. What else could justify his own unique and yes, strange vision of Armaggedon where God sends his angels (yes, angels!) to execute his last judgment after he loses all faith in humanity?

In Legion, the angels unleash flesh-eating zombies (or were they the angels themselves?) to destroy all mankind. In a small diner somewhere in the middle of a New Mexico desert, they’re particularly after a young waitress (Adrianne Palicki) who is pregnant (out of wedlock, of course) with what a fallen archangel believes is the Earth’s only hope for survival.

The fallen angel in this case is Michael (Paul Bettany), who, as Biblical history serves, is the same one who drove a much earlier fallen angel by the name of Lucifer (not part of the movie in any way) out of heaven and into the gates of hell. This time, Michael is the rebellious one who questions his creator and has traded his wings in favor of guns (mostly the high-powered automatic kind) to protect the waitress and the rest of the ragtag group of not-exactly-the-saintly type of strangers (Dennis Quaid, Kate Walsh, Tyrese Gibson and Charles S. Dutton, among others) in this apocalyptic horror-thriller.

Oh, and the archangel supposed to take Michael down and execute (pun intended) the divine orders originally given to the former? He is none other than Gabriel (Kevin Durand), the same bearer of good news best known for telling the Virgin Mary (also not in the movie) about her immaculate conception in the Anunciation.

It all sounds very intriguing on paper and there’s a part of me that wonders what the guys downstairs (yes, the ones basking in all that fire and brimstone) think about the whole thing.

And contrary to what the unimpressed critics say,  Stewart's, uh, creation isn’t half-bad. Shamelessly derivative, Legion will easily remind you of a whole lot of other films. The zombies, of course, refer to everything from Land Of The Dead to Zombieland. The strangers in the diner fending off an unknown threat recalls Ron Underwood’s little-seen smart thriller, Tremors. Michael protecting the waitress and her hope of mankind will remind you of The Terminator and the apocalyptic theme should also recall another Schwarzenegger title in End of Days, among other similar, uh, offerings.

Yes, you get a lot of movie in Legion and as entertaining as I found it to be, it is one of those polarizing films you either love or hate. One critic hit the nail in the head, though: “If you wanted logic, you should have taken one look at the poster of an angel holding a machine gun and walked the other way. Needless to say, if you take your scripture seriously, you also might want to avoid this one.”

Otherwise, enjoy. Down the road, I am willing to bet it is one of those movies that you'll love to pop the DVD from time to time or stay glued on your TV whenever it gets shown on HBO. It is that kind of pleasure, guilty or not guilty.

By the way, if the box office receipts of Legion are any indication, Scott Stewart (incidentally best known for special effects) seems to be on to something. His next film, Priest is about a warrior priest (Paul Bettany again) who disobeys church law by teaming with a young sheriff and a priestess to track down a group of renegade vampires who kidnapped his niece.

Whoa! I guess the Lord works in strange ways indeed. At least He does, in Scott Stewart’s world.

No comments: