Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review: Legion



How Can Such a Cool Concept Fail So Miserably??

A Film Review

**Massive Spoilers Ahead**
If you really want to watch Legion and I can’t convince you to just read this review and enjoy my funny pictures instead, then feel free to skip on this.  However, I promise you that my review is more entertaining, and that’s not some narcissistic belief.  That’s just how bad the movie is.

As you can tell by the title of this post, a while back I watched the film Legion.  You may remember the trailers.  Basically, it’s about a rogue Angel defending the humans from other angels because God, for some reason, decided to go bananas and kill every human on the planet.  How much more awesome can you get?  There was also some mention of a baby and something, but who cares?  A freakin’ WAR between freakin’ ANGELS!  It’s like those Prophecy movies, only good, although, sadly lacking Christopher Walken.

As I said, Legion is about a rogue angel—the Archangel Michael—hopping down to Earth to defend humankind from being wiped out by His Grumpy Omnipotence Himself.

(Let’s hear it for dated television references, eh?)
That is the simplest way to describe the plot.  Obviously, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but we’ll get to that in a moment.  First I want to set the stage.

Legion begins with a snarky anecdote from a, at this point, nameless, faceless female character.  She talks about how her mom used to love God.  Then, Dad abandons the family, and Mom’s opinion of God sours like milk two months past the expiration date.

The next logical step in movie narrative would be to see how this has affected the innocent young girl.  What kind of woman will she become having such a disenchanting exposure to religion so early in life?  We don’t know.  Instead, we are introduced to a leather clad Paul Bettany appearing out of nowhere in a scene similar to the Terminator, only without so much man-butt.  I guess his man-butt obligations were fulfilled in A Knight’s Tale?

Michael spreads his wings, and then, via silhouette, with the quick flash of a knife, his wings are gone.  After this impromptu surgery, the angel sneaks into a conveniently located toy store, that is also, apparently, a front for a conveniently located arms smuggling business.

I’m not exaggerating when I say the angel finds an arsenal located in the back of the store that looks like it could have come from The Matrix “we’re gonna need some guns” scene.

After this, we are taken to a rundown trailer where a stereotypically white-trash couple lives, complete with southern accents, and a pregnant girl.  The girl, we presume (and we’d be right in our presumption) is the girl from the beginning of the movie with the depressing voice over. 

We are soon introduced to a whole slew of charmingly cliché characters: 1) the atheist, simple, everyman diner owner, 2) the disabled, African American, Christian, former-soldier-turned-cook, 3) the snooty rich couple—comprising of a nagging, pretentious wife and a seemingly drunken, disinterested father, 4) their rebellious, troubled teenage daughter, and 5) that lovable pop-singer turned actor Tyrese Gibson playing an African American delinquent father with a troubled past and a large gat for which to cap people with (I wish I was making that last one up).  What do we get from this rich sampling from all walks of the American way of life?  Rich family stuck in the middle of nowhere due to car trouble?  Check.  Undereducated diner owner who beats his appliances to make them work?  Check.  Whipped boyfriend who dotes on his adulterous girlfriend, who is carrying the product of the affair?  Check.  Pregnant lady that smokes?  Check.

(You can hear the baby’s lungs rattling from here.)

It’s like the writers forgot to buy a new jar of Insta-Character and are making due by scraping out the last little bit at the bottom.

After all of the main characters have arrived, save the angel (who will be making a grand appearance soon), the TV and the only working phone goes out while the delinquent father is talking to his baby mama (I really, really wish I was making that up). 

Honestly, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  The diner seems to have somehow survived from its creation in 1942 until present day without any renovations.  Basically, you look like you could get tetanus from sitting in the chairs.  However, the fact that the one channel they can pick up goes out throws the entire restaurant into a tizzy.  It’s so pressing that even the rich family has to drag their oxygen deprived noses down from the upper atmosphere to make sure everything is okay.

Enter Granny Sugars (not actual name).  Granny Sugars has driven her pink crapper all the way to the diner for some raw steak and a chat with the expectant mother.  Of course, since the movie handles the situation with all of the subtlety of hitting the audience in the face with a brick, we know she will soon turn into some sort of squishy, crawly, screamy, or otherwise unpleasant monster.
Granny Sugars causes quite the kerfuffle.  She grows fangs, squeals, crawls around on the ceiling, and advances on the wannabe father of the baby, saying menacing things and swearing more than a sweet old lady should.  Despite the fact that Granny Sugars just did her best impression of what Spiderman and the chick from The Exorcist would have if they hooked up, the dude just can’t bring himself to shoot a little old lady.  Even one that looks like this…
(Scientists mutated Richard and Gene Simmons together, and the world was not prepared.)

…so the delinquent African-American father takes care of it.  He, of course, has never fired a weapon before that.  Riiight.  I’ve seen Transformers, Tyrese!  You ain’t foolin’ me!

In the brou-ha-ha, Granny Sugars rips Daddy Money Bags’ artery out if his neck WITH HER TEETH.  Daddy Money Bags is fading fast, so several people hop in the jeep, but come back quickly when they are confronted by a swarm of flies.  Apparently it’s getting Old Testament out there, and it’s about to get worse.  That’s when the angel, Michael, arrives in a stolen police cruiser.  The poor people from the diner have had a hard day.  The last stranger they welcomed with open arms tried to make them a main course, so they have a right to be suspicious of Michael.  Besides, he’s driving a frickin’ stolen police cruiser!  Despite this, he has no patience for this whole “trust” thing.  He just disarms Dennis Quaid, threatens him at gunpoint, and forces him inside, but not before arming them to the teeth with semi-automatic weapons AND A BAZOOKA.

It takes a long time for Michael to explain just what the frak is going on, and then it’s not until the diner patrons have basically been following him around like lost puppies for fifteen minutes.

Basically, God is mad at the humans and wants to wipe them out.  Michael came to Earth to protect the pregnant woman’s unborn baby because it will eventually become the savior of the human race.  So…from that description…the woman’s baby is the second coming of Jesus…which God wants to stop?  A really neat idea that utterly fails, partially because no one explains how exactly the kid is supposed to save the human race in the first place.  He’s like an in-utero John Connor, but John Connor had more back story before he was even CONCEIVED than this kid.

(You are NOT JOHN CONNOR!!!!!!)

Over the next 30 minutes things fall apart.  Daddy Money Bags is dragged out of the diner, the diners must face down an army of invading angel-possessed zombies (yeah, you read that correctly), and Michael has still provided basically no answers.  We are treated, however, to a touching scene in which Michael explains that the wannabe father (known as “Jeep” in the movie, but will hereby be referred to as “Country Bumpkin” or “CB” for short) is the reason that Michael deserted God in the first place.  Apparently, CB is kind and innocent, and loves his girlfriend even though she cheated on him and decided to keep the affair baby with the expectation that CB will help her raise it.  Apparently CB is the “true” protector of the child, whatever that means.  Yeah, Michael is a strong, supernaturally powerful angel that has descended from Heaven to take care of this kid, but that’s not nearly as important as this weak, fragile human…why is CB the true protector again?

(He smells like corn chips, stale beer, and failure.)

Eventually, if you haven’t beaten yourself into near unconsciousness with a brick to make sure this movie can never hurt you again, you might be wondering who the main character is.  And for good reason.  After all, is it Michael, the angel that defected from God to help protect the condemned human race?   Or is it Country Bumpkin, the weak human who has been charged with the task of protecting the savior of the human race?  Or is it the mother of the as-yet-unborn savior?  Or is it salty diner owner?  Perhaps the disabled war veteran?  The delinquent African American father with the shady, mysterious past who is just trying to get home to his baby?  We don’t know!

Michael refuses to talk about getting out of the diner and making a run for it.  It’s too dangerous to the baby.  They have to wait for the baby to be born first.  The baby MUST SURVIVE.  It doesn’t take long for the mother to go into labor—maybe 3 days.  Immediately (and I mean…maybe five minutes) after the baby is born and the mother should be recovering from, you know, GIVING LIFE, Michael decides the baby and mother are perfectly fine to venture out into the angel-possessed zombie masses that have surrounded them (yes, once again…you read that correctly).

(Oh, yeah.  It looks safe enough.)
The rebellious teenage daughter takes the baby for a little bit, and decides to show her crazy, unstable mother, who has only gotten worse since her husband died.  When everyone gathers to discuss their next step, the crazy mom takes this opportunity to jack the baby and try to hand it over to the angels, displaying the logic that has gotten turn-coats killed in movies since Charlie Chaplin: “I’ll just take what they want to them and they’ll let the rest of us live!”  I guess she missed the part about God wanting to eradicate the human race.

Then, they hear the sound of a horn trumpeting.  Yup, if you’re even vaguely familiar with Christian mythology, or have seen All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, then you know about Gabriel’s horn.  God basically just threw down the gauntlet to make sure that things went according to plan.

As the door of the diner is ripped off of its hinges and crazy-mother is being pulled out into a blinding white light, Michael pop’s a cap in her, she drops the baby, and CB dives in to catch it.  It’s like a fumble at a football game! CB leaps back to his feet and sprints off.  I’m scared just holding a baby because of how fragile they seem, but this NEWBORN just survived a frakking fall to the floor and a Super Bowl worthy catch without a scratch!  Forget John Conner, that baby is the Terminator!

While the others flee, it comes down to a showdown between Gabriel and Michael.  Gabriel, at this point, has a huge advantage over Michael because he still has his wings.  Angels’ wings?  CAN DEFLECT BULLETS!  Whenever someone shoots at Gabriel, he just twirls around like a ballerina and the bullets are knocked aside like harmless confetti.  Besides the wings, Gabriel has a few other advantages over Michael:  he still has God’s favor, and he wields a heavenly mace.  Apparently, engineers go to Heaven when they die, because this mace can do EVERYTHING:  extend its blades, reposition its blades, spin like a car buffer, shoot out long spikes like a puffer-fish, shave you, make julienne fries, and be needlessly cocked like a shotgun—a pointless feature, since there is no shell to expel, but it looks really cool!

(Gabriel’s Horn, Sword of Fire, and Crown of Thorns sold separately.)

Gabriel mercilessly kills Michael, despite Michael’s pleas that there was another way.  He looks like a pretty bad guy.  And that’s why the salty diner owner gets to have this awesome shining moment.  Gas is leaking out of their stove.  The diner owner holds the lighter down in front of the stove, says, “Sorry, we’re closed,” lights the lighter (which has “Hope” engraved on the side) and blows the diner to kingdom come.  AWESOME!  …except that Angels are…well…Angels.

Meanwhile, Country Bumpkin, the now Non-Pregnant Lady, the Rebellious Teenager, and the pseudo-John Connor are driving along in Michael’s stolen police cruiser, hoping to escape the omnipotent, all powerful Creator of Everything.  Gabriel catches up easily, leaps through the back window, and is launched out through the front window, with Rebellious Teenager holding onto him, when CB hits the brakes.  Then, for some reason, CB swerves the car and they fly off the road, roll the car THREE times, and land upside down.

Having been in a car accident, I can attest to the crazy amount of power that those things pack.  You can’t hold onto anything.  I lost my cell phone, my glasses, everything that wasn’t strapped onto me.  My wife, who had been seat-belted in, was still slung out of the vehicle.  Somehow, though, Non-Pregnant Lady not only managed to hold onto the baby, but hold onto the baby without injuring it in the slightest.  She, also, is completely unharmed, but must have been thrown from the vehicle because she runs up to the upside down vehicle to let her boyfriend know she’s okay.

Gabriel finds them and attacks.  Country Bumpkin gets knocked out, and all seems lost for our heroes.  Gabriel advances on Non-Pregnant Lady, and since he killed a frakkin’ angel and she’s only human, there’s pretty much nothing she can do.  Although, she did survive that car wreck, so maybe she has a chance.  It doesn’t matter, either way, because Country Bumpkin leaps onto Gabriel’s back!  During the struggle, they FALL OFF A CLIFF!  Luckily, Gabriel breaks CB’s fall…because apparently Gabriel forgot he had wings.

Now, from the way these events play out…it would appear CLEAR that CB is, in fact, the main character. And when it comes to the final confrontation between Gabriel and CB, we are eagerly looking forward to how CB will defeat Gabriel, overcome adversity, and prove his worth in this crazy supernatural battle for the fate of all humankind.  Does that happen?


Instead, Michael is RESURRECTED FROM THE GRAVE and returns to Earth in a blaze of glory to kill Gabriel and save CB and his darling girlfriend from a painful death, resulting in not only one heck of a deux ex machina, but also one of the biggest ganks in the history of war.

Now, here’s a huge, gaping plot hole that could swallow the entire universe.  Michael defected from God’s team to ensure the survival of the human race, which he insists is dependent on the baby they all work their butts off trying to save.  When Gabriel kills Michael, he’s simply doing what God told him to do.  However, I guess God is moved by Michael’s sacrifice and switches teams in the middle of the conflict.  Suddenly, he’s team Michael, and he sends Michael back to Earth to stop Gabriel from carrying out his orders.  Gabriel then opposes God’s Will and dies for it.  Now, if God sent Michael back to stop Gabriel…that means he clearly doesn’t want the human race to die anymore.  We’re safe right?  Right?

(If you can call this “safe”.)

I guess not. When the humans try to get some answers from Michael, he just insists that CB protect the baby, as his TRUE protector, because the survival of the human race depends on the baby.  Except…God called off the strike.  So what’s the human race in danger of now?  Does Michael stick around to answer these questions?  Nope, he rides off…er…flies off…into the sunset, but not before reasserting that CB is, in fact, the TRUE protector of the baby…even though he has failed to do…anything at all effective to prolong this baby’s life.  I don’t think he fires a single shot during the movie.  LITERALLY!  NOT ONE SHOT!

 So, with Earth saved and God’s wrath curbed, the heroes climb down a mountain with the baby that will grow up to save the human race from…God’s wrath.  As if to drive this point home, the snarky opening lines from the beginning of the movie are played again.

After finishing this movie, which was supposed to be an escape from the pressures of final exams, I felt a rage building inside of me like nothing I’d ever felt before.  I didn’t want to punt a kitten or punch a baby.  I was beyond that.  I wanted to take action.  I wanted to do something.  I wanted to make sure these movies could never hurt anyone again.  So, I ran out, gathered up every copy of the movie I could find, and set the pile ablaze.  As I stood beneath the towering pyre, a tribal desire to dance to the rhythm of my heartbeat welling up inside of me, I turned my eyes to the blackening discs and laughed.

1 comment:

  1. I too had high expectations for this movie - Paul Bettany as an archangael? AWESOME! - but you're right. This post was way more entertaining.


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