MOVIES: Legion: Cheese on a Supernatural Level!

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I’m not sure who Legion will affront more – Christians or horror movie fans. The story, simply put, is that God has lost faith in humanity and ordered his angel, Michael [Paul Bettany] to slay an unborn baby and lead the rest of the angels to destroy humanity. Michael said no and was cast out into the world, where he has cut of his wings to show his love of humanity. Now the angel Gabriel [Kevin Durand] is sent to kill the baby and destroy the world. Only Michael – and a handful of stranded customers at a diner in the middle of nowhere – stands between Gabriel and the apocalypse.

It’s probably not a good sign when the representatives of the companies sponsoring the advance screening of a film snicker throughout – as they did with Legion. Sure, there are some entertaining moments – Paul Bettany and a big gun fighting an honest-to-God winged Gabriel, for example – but the film really doesn’t hang together as a film. This might be because it’s as predictable as ice in Antarctica.

On the other hand, the cast performs way above the material – especially Kate Walsh as Sandra, who sees an angel-possessed old lady take a chunk of her husband’s [Jon Tenney] throat out with her shark-like teeth, and Lucas Black as Jeep [honest!], the young man who is love with the unborn baby’s mother, Charlie [Adrianne Palicki] – and the effects are the CG equivalent of those in some of Roger Corman’s better films.

Co-writer/director Scott Stewart does know how to stage an action sequence, but he doesn’t do the film any favors when it comes to exposition [the baby is, apparently, a new messiah – but how and why are never really explored]. The scenes where the diner folk are surrounded by hordes of the possessed, doing their damnedest [sorry, it was there] to kill the baby [and everyone else, actually] are fun – and that’s where one of the film’s few genuinely creepy moments come. The fight between Michael and Gabriel [not really a spoiler, since part of it was used on late-night talk shows to promote the film] is also a standout.

Considering the quality of the cast [Bettany, Black, Tenney, Walsh, Durand, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Charles S. Dutton], though, I almost have to think that there must be a lot of footage on the CG equivalent of the cutting room floor. There just seems to be too much missing. Even though the film isn’t that great – action sequences aside – it does have a certain verve that feels very B-movie-like. A kind of cheesy, engaging loopiness, if you will, that keeps it from being a total loss.

While Legion certainly looks good on the big screen [they really got Gabriel’s wings right, for example], I’m not sure it’s worth ten bucks unless you’re actually looking for a cheesy B-movie on the big screen. But it comes close, at times.

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