Hell on Earth, by Josh Long

17 Feb

LEGION (2010)
Directed by: Scott Stewart
Written by: Scott Stewart and Peter Schink
Starring: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Adrianne Palicki, Lucas Black

Boy, oh boy.

Just when you thought you knew everything about Christianity, here comes Legion! You thought angels were bulletproof? WRONG! You thought only demons possessed people? WRONG! You thought Dennis Quaid still had a respectable career? WRONG and WRONG!Scott Stewart’s new movie introduces us to a delightful little world where angels are just demons with a different boss. They possess people, crawl around Exorcist style, eat rotting meat, swear like sailors, and – most importantly – kill humans. Specifically, they’re after the protagonist, humble waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) and her unborn baby. The antagonist? Oh, it’s just GOD ALMIGHTY.

The story goes that God “just got tired of all the bulls**t” 1 and decided it was time to wipe out mankind. Never mind the promise to Noah after the flood, God changed his 2 mind, and now we’re all in trouble. But here’s the kicker – he’s not just going to send a worldwide disaster, or have mankind war amongst themselves, or even send his angels down to kill everyone. No, instead God sends all the hosts of heaven to destroy Charlie’s baby. Why? Because if he’s born, he’s apparently going to be the only one that can save mankind 3.

So God sends his best angel-assassin, Michael (Paul Bettany), to knock off the baby. But Michael doesn’t want to give up on humans; he thinks there’s still hope for them, so he decides he’s going to protect the baby instead of kill it. Didn’t see that coming, did you, God? Omniscient my foot! Michael steals a police car and speeds out to a tiny desert rest stop where Charlie works. The rag-tag group of patrons and employees question Michael’s story for about ten seconds before they agree to arm themselves with automatic weapons and shoot anyone who comes near.

The angels sent to kill the baby are somehow able to possess the bodies of other humans. Fortunately for Charlie, they don’t seem to have the power to possess any of the other people at the rest stop. No, they possess the bodies of people who apparently live miles away, have to hop in a car, drive to the middle of nowhere, and then get to killin’. They must have not thought it through before leaving, because not one brings any kind of weapon. Instead, they saunter like zombies toward the building before getting mowed down in a fiery haze.

So the first wave is down, phew! Now it’s time for what seems like hours of the most boring “character development” in years. Like an AA meeting, every character takes their turn to say who they are and why they’re not really where they want to be in life. And we couldn’t care less. Theses scenes are so cliché, so surface-y, and so boring you’ll actually wish you were watching incompetent angels try to kill a baby 4.

To spare you the rest of the details, we’ll say that more possessed angels show up, more get shot, people get picked off slasher-movie style, all leading to a climax where Gabriel 5 (Kevin Durand) and Michael fight to the death over the future of the baby.

Whether you’re a Christian, an atheist, or Paul Bettany himself, this is just a bad movie. The characters are paper-thin, and poorly acted almost across the board. Dennis Quaid, who plays grizzled diner owner Bob Hanson, plays his character with all the subtlety of a rodeo clown. The script is packed full of cliché, un-interesting dialogue, and is based on a Dr. Seuss theology that doesn’t even try to make sense. They make up new rules about angels so fast it’ll make your head spin. And those exposition scenes – I wasn’t expecting to like the movie, but I was shocked that a thriller could be so boring.

And the ending – the ending! I feel like the movie owes it to me to at least try and make sense at the end. I would say SPOILERS, but I don’t think I can spoil the movie any more than the filmmakers already have. Early on, we have a flashback to Michael and Gabriel in heaven 6. Michael says he doesn’t believe the human race should be destroyed; Gabriel says that God has commanded it. Michael’s comeback is to say that destroying humanity may be what God wants, but it isn’t what he needs. Now jump to the end – Michael has been killed by Gabriel (yes, apparently angels can die), and now Gabriel is chasing down Charlie and her boyfriend (Lucas Black). He corners them on a mountaintop (where did the mountain come from? Why are they climbing it? Not important, says the movie!) when suddenly Michael re-appears, seemingly from heaven, and beats Gabriel into submission. He echoes the line from earlier: “you gave him what he wanted, I gave him what he needed.” What in the world does this mean? Did God change his mind? Was God testing the angels? Did Michael have some power over God to show him when he’s wrong? Did God bring Michael back from the dead? Was Michael ever dead?

Before you’re even done raising questions, we cut to Charlie, her boyfriend, and the baby 7 driving away in an SUV filled with guns. Filled with guns? Why? Is Gabriel still coming after them even though he’s been defeated? Did God change his mind again? Who are they going to fight with all these guns?

You might need a cold shower and a stiff drink after this movie. But if you like messy, misguided movies based on the Bible, but written by someone who remembers the Bible as “that long book where the guy gets crucified,” then Legion might be the movie for you. And keep your eyes peeled; Scott Stewart has another movie coming out next year. It’s called Priest and stars – that’s right – Paul Bettany. God help us…

1. The filmmakers felt that this line was good enough to make it into the epilogue AND the prologue to the film. Someone’s taking book-ends a little too literally.

2. Normally I try to make a habit of capitalizing “His” or “Him” when referring to God, but since this is a made up, incompetent, Monty Python sort of God, we’ll let that go.

3. I hear there’s going to be a sequel where Gabriel comes back to protect the now teen-aged child from the A-1000, God’s newest model, who can liquefy himself into Holy Water or something. Legion 2: Judgment Day? Too easy…

4. It’s a baby – a baby! What could be easier? Are they really trying to present to us a story where all the hosts of heaven fail at killing a baby?

5. If Gabriel is bullet-proof, he must just be blocking the bullets with his giant metallic wings to show off.

6. Heaven in this movie oddly resembles and IKEA showroom with no furniture.

7. I kind of wish the movie had just given in and named the kid John Connor. Then at least we could all share a laugh together.

One Response to “Hell on Earth, by Josh Long”

  1. ZoRaKrOn April 4, 2010 at 4:34 am #

    It makes sense that this movie would of all things be crucified by of all things, ignorant people. Go figure right? It's a movie and that's that but if you truly understand the Bible you may take it for purely science fiction. Like any science fiction movie, it's far fetch'd. That said, you morons who rant and rave about how bad a movie is like a cliche "Simpsons" cartoon character have a pathetic excuse for an imagination. One could also argue that Christianity in itself is nothing but science fiction and that said this movie would only be a twist on the already twisted views of religion that exist today. I can only try to fathom the definition of what entertainment is to all you random yet useless reviewers of this movie.

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