Screenwriter William Goldman recently had the audacity to write an article for Variety criticizing Martin Scorsese and "Gangs of New York." Basically, Goldman wrote that the film was a mess and that Scorsese did not deserve to receive an Oscar for it. Here's my advice to Goldman: Flush the crap in your own bowl. Namely, "Dreamcatcher."
First of all, Goldman, despite all his screenwriting experience, doesn't have the guts to step behind the camera and prove to the world that he's as smart as he thinks he is, so we're forced to judge him merely on his screenwriting output, for which he always has the defense: "Well, I didn't direct it." But does Goldman mean to tell me that with talent such as himself (having written "The Princess Bride" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" among many others) and director Lawrence Kasdan (who directed "The Big Chill"), this was the best they could do? Given their collective experience, "Dreamcatcher" is equivalent to Michelangelo at the height of his powers trying to get paid for urinating in the snow.
Goldman should really consider hiding somewhere after this scriptwriting disaster. The movie is so chock-full of ripped off sequences, bad dialogue, illogical plot developments and inconsistent character transitions that Goldman might want to consider returning to UCLA in disguise and taking Screenwriting 101 for a refresher. Those who remember "Signs" will once again shake their heads as Hollywood ships us another "Aliens with Super-Advanced Technology Can't Do the Simplest Things" film. Here are just a couple of simple questions: 1) Why do aliens with the intention of contaminating Boston's water supply land in Maine? Here's an idea: hover your super-duper spacecraft right over the water and drop in the worms right there instead of taking over somebody's body and negotiating the slick New England roads in the middle of winter in a vehicle with which you have absolutely zero familiarity. 2) Why can't an alien get a manhole cover off a manhole? Let me see if I have this right: These incredibly advanced aliens can fly across the galaxy in their space ship, but they can't put a crowbar to proper use?
This film is just a mish-mash of recycled ideas, starting with some uncanny resemblances to "Stand By Me." Dr. Henry Devlin (Thomas Jane), Joe "Beaver" Clarendon (Jason Lee), Gary "Jonesy" Jones (Damian Lewis) and Pete Moore (Timothy Oliphant) were all childhood friends. We get to see several scenes of them interacting as kids, even walking by a railroad track in a scene stolen directly from "Stand By Me." They meet a weird kid named Douglas "Duddits" Cavell (as an adult, played by Donnie Wahlberg), who gives them special powers which, it turns out, will be crucial in thwarting the alien invasion later in their lives (which is where we meet them). Duddits has a speech impediment (thereby preventing him from just stating outright, "Here are some special powers. Now thwart the alien invasion that will happen in twenty years!) and turns out to be a "good" alien who saves everyone in the end. Maybe if these good aliens had been a bit brighter, they wouldn't have taken over the body of a retarded boy.
When Colonel Abraham Kurtz (Morgan Freeman) and Captain Owen Underhill (Tom Sizemore) come on the scene, the movie starts its swirl down the toilet. Their dialogue is meant as some kind of joke, and Kasdan's and Goldman's liberal leanings come to the fore as an utter disdain for people in uniform that's so blunt and repulsive it'll curl the toes of even the most left-leaning politico. There's also a point where somebody obviously handed the script off to somebody else (Goldman and Kasdan co-wrote the thing) because Dr. Devlin, who can read minds, starts talking like somebody out of another movie as he explains the situation to Underhill. This inconsistency is absolutely unforgivable from a screenwriter of Goldman's caliber.
The final act of self-sabotage occurs in a showdown between Underhill and Kurtz (an obvious and simplistic reference to "Apocalypse Now"). Kurtz is flying a helicopter with a mounted machine gun while Underhill is on the ground firing at Kurtz as he flies by. It's a completely idiotic sequence. Whatever gun is on that helicopter would cut Underhill to shreds, but not only does he manage to get hit and stay on his feet, he drops a machine gun in favor of a pistol in order to shoot the helicopter's rotor and bring down Kurtz. As we all know, a small pistol is more accurate than a long-barreled machine gun. Humorously, while this is going on, the main alien seems to be spending an eternity trying to get the manhole cover off the manhole where he's going to begin the contamination of Boston's water supply and thereby take over the world.We can only hope that if an alien invasion ever actually takes place, that the aliens are this stupid. With any luck, they'll land somewhere near William Goldman's or Lawrence Kasdan's homes and they can all engage in an inspiring battle of wits.
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