Review by Gordon Justesen
Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Tom
Sizemore, Donnie Wahlberg
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 134 Minutes
Release Date: September 30, 2003
with me, Owen. I’ll show you things you’ll wish you never seen.”
So far, there have
been two releases this year that I liked, while all the top critics united in
bashing to unnecessary full extremes. They were Bad Boys II and Dreamcatcher,
the latter being the latest Stephen King novel to make it to the big screen. I
hope my accurate review will help illustrate my point that this time around, the
critics were wrong.
In some respects
the movie, directed by the multi-genre talented Lawrence Kasdan, can best be
described as two completely different genres mixed into one entertainment. The
first half is a much strong account of four friends who’ve known each other
since their childhood. The four men, each haunted by something each of them
posses, are about to go on a yearly trip to the wilderness, where the second
part of the movie kicks into high gear.
From what I
gathered, critics were eager to rip the film apart for its alleged cliché
ridden story surrounding a possible alien invasion on U.S. soil. The centerpiece
of the story does concern the arrival of deadly extraterrestrial activity, and
despite the harsh reviews, this part of the movie is done quite well. But Dreamcatcher
also happens to have a great deal of character development, as the story
centers in closely on the four men before and during their trip to the woods.
The men are Henry
(Thomas Jane), Beaver (Jason Lee), Pete (Timothy Olyphant), and Jonesy (Damian
Lewis), and they get together the same time each year and travel to the
wilderness. The four men have each hit something of a bump in their lives, which
comes as the result of a special telekinetic power that each of them posses.
When they were kids, they rescued a retarded boy from a group of bullies. The
boy, named Duddits, possibly returned the favor by lending each of them a
special mental ability.
beginning their yearly lodging in the woods, the men soon come face to face with
the unexpected. They encounter a lost hitchhiker, who looks infected from
something. Before long, a worm-like alien creature has hatched (in a most
disgusting way, I might add) from the man’s body, and they must engage in a
battle of wits against an alien force that may have been foreseen by Duddits.
Another part of the
movie involves a covert military unit of alien chasers, led by veteran Col.
Abraham Kurtz (Morgan Freeman), who insists on a thorough quarantine of the
entire area, of which has been laced with alien activity. The twist with
Freeman’s character is that he has gone insane from years of chasing down
E.T.’s all over the world, and his decision to inevitably slaughter infected
but innocent humans may challenge the morals of his second in command (Tom
Movies like this
aren’t made that often, and I feel the gimmick of mixing in two kinds of
stories into the same movie, and involving the same characters is a much
fascinating one. In fact, many of Stephen King’s novels have a much similar
narrative, taking the stories rich characterizations and plunging them into
unimaginably terrifying situations. Another movie that pulled of a similar trick
was Robert Rodriguez’ From Dusk Till
Dawn, the cult classic which began as a criminals-on-the-lam action flick,
only to morph into a vampire bloodbath halfway through the movie. The movie was
the ultimate hybrid of two genres, and Dreamcatcher
accomplishes the same technique very well.
Loaded with a sharp
narrative style, sleek suspense, stunning effects, very memorable human
characters and some uniquely disgusting looking alien creatures, Dreamcatcher
is, in my opinion, the best alien creature movie since Alien
or The Thing. A note to the wise, you
might want to consider watching this movie before eating rather than the other
Warner has had many
terrific looking discs this year, but Dreamcatcher
is thus far their most grand looking presentation for 2003. Set in a mostly
snowy setting, the anamorphic picture outstandingly enhances the landscapes and
stunning camera work by veteran John Seale. No image flaws detected at all, and
the special effects sequences, including an elaborate air strike on the aliens,
look nothing short of spectacular in the format. A full screen version is also
Having seen the
movie during its theatrical run, I had a feeling the audio area would get its
share of excellence, and I was right. The 5.1 track excels in non stop sharpness
in all noted areas, including that of dialogue, special effects sequences, some
minor action set pieces, and James Newton Howard’s pulsating score which
really delivers during scenes of suspense. A superb sound of a movie that is one
of the best audio tracks of the year, as well.
Even though a
potentially intriguing commentary track is missing, Warner has included some
good enough feats for this disc. Included is an alternate ending, as well as 4
additional deleted, or “lifted”, scenes. Also featured are three nicely done
documentaries, “DreamWriter-An Interview with Stephen King”,
“DreamWeavers-The Visual Effects of Dreamcatcher” and “DreamMakers-A
Journey Through Production”, and a teaser trailer.