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Directed by Lawrence Kasdan.
Written by William Goldman and Lawrence Kasdan.
Starring Thomas Jane, Damian Lewis, Tom Sizemore and Morgan Freeman.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  3/27/03 


As I was dropping my friend Laura off after we caught up with the new movie “Dreamcatcher”, she summed up the experience as she headed to her door:

“Next time, could you invite me to see a GOOD movie??”


“Dreamcatcher”, almost from start to finish, is baffling in its attempt to entertain.  This film must have looked perfect on paper, because its cast and casting of said cast is excellent--Morgan Freeman, getting the chance to play the bad guy; Thomas Jane (“61*”, “Deep Blue Sea”), Damian Lewis (from the “Band of Brothers” miniseries on HBO), Jason Lee and Timothy Olyphant are perfect to play the four best friends that are straight out of “Stand by Me”--hmm, another Stephen King concept??--and you have great actors available on your bench in the form of Tom Sizemore and Donnie Wahlberg.  Too bad “Dreamcatcher”, based on a King novel, is one of those King adventures in the way-Northeast region of the country that is probably much better off as just the book, since there is just too much to cover in a 130-minute film.  The short version of the plot features a special ops commander (Freeman) bent on eradicating the country of extraterrestrial life forms; in their most recent iteration, these aliens have taken over an area near Derry, Maine, where four lifelong friends (mentioned above) are having a guy weekend together at a nearby cabin.  Local residents that are, well, used as hosts by the aliens must be killed, and we spend the movie hoping that this mass human genocide doesn’t have to happen.

Now, the story behind the story featuring the foursome’s retarded friend Duddits (sorry Liz, that’s what everyone in the film called him!) drives the mystery behind just what the hell might be up with some possession issues late in the film.  But, getting to that point is often boring, or more correctly, uninvolving.  Director Lawrence Kasdan (“The Big Chill”, and the screenwriter of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) seems to not know how to develop the main foursome into a group of men worth giving a damn from the audience’s perspective.  So, this leaves us sitting there hoping for the chemistry to work, and it never does.  Freeman, whose phone rarely rings with a role that is even remotely evil, is somehow given top billing here despite the fact that he has no more than 10 minutes of screentime.  That means that the paycheck was large and he seems to go through the motions like a man who showed up on set and said “I’m Morgan get me a sammich!!”  His lines are so militarily clichéd that I am sure stagehands were laughing offscreen as he read lines meant to motivate fellow soldiers.

The film is quite beautiful, and snowfall is as beautiful to watch here as the special effects for the aliens are to behold; too bad these elements (much like the beauty of a film like “Reign of Fire”) don’t even come close to translating into an interesting film.  Oh, and did I mention a ridiculous finale?  Man, the trailer for “Dreamcatcher” actually made it look interesting.  What WAS interesting was the 10-minute short film that aired in front of “Dreamcatcher”; Warner Brothers released this film so they attached a copy of their latest chapter of “The Animatrix” to give folks a small taste of what is to come in “The Matrix” sequels due later this year.  I believe you can watch other episodes in the series at

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09