Legion (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 4, 2010 by Dennis Amith
“Legion” is a fantasy/horror film that is easy to describe as visual effects eye candy but its failure of its true potential is due to its flawed screenplay and utilization of its characters. On a positive note, “Legion” definitely delivers on Blu-ray when it comes to picture quality and its lossless audio.
Images courtesy of © 2010 Bold Films, LP. All Rights Reserved.
DURATION: 100 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Restricted)
RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2010
Directed by Scott Stewart
Written by Peter Schink and Scott Stewart
Executive Produced by Gary Michael Walters, Jonathan Rothbard
Produced by David Lancaster, Michael Litvak
Co-Produced by Steve Beswick, Marc Sadeghi
Associate Produced by Garrick Dion, Garth Pappas, Peter Schink
Line Producer: Brad Southwick
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography by John Lindley
Edited by Steven Kemper
Casting by Rick Montgomery
Production Design by Jeff Higinbotham
Set Decoration by Gabrielle Petrissans
Costume Design by Wendy Partridge
Paul Bettany as Michael
Lucas Black as Jeep Hanson
Tyrese Gibson as Kyle Williams
Adrianne Palicki as Charlie
Kevin Durand as Gabriel
Jon Tenney as Howard Anderson
Willa Holland as Audrey Anderson
Kate Walsh as Sandra Anderson
Charles S. Dutton as Percy Walker
Dennis Quaid as Bob Hanson
Jeanette Miller as Glady Foaster
At a remote desert truck stop, the fate of the world will be decided. Evil’s armies are amassing. Armed and united by the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany), a group of strangers become unwitting soldiers on the frontlines of the Apocalypse. Their mission: protect a waitress and her sacred unborn child from the relentless, bloody siege of the demonic legion. Also starring Dennis Quaid (G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF THE COBRA, VANTAGE POINT), Tyrese Gibson (TRANSFORMERS) and Lucas Black (JARHEAD).
From visual effects talent Scott Stewart (“Iron Man”, “Live Free or Die Hard”, “Pirates of the Last Caribbean”, “Night at the Museum”, “Sin City”) comes “Legion”, the directorial and writing debut of Stewart. With a short production schedule, the film was created with a $22 million budget and in the end, made over $54 million worldwide.
“Legion” revolves around a fallen angel named Michael (played by Paul Bettany) who has come down to Earth on a mission. Meanwhile, it appears something supernatural is after him and wants him dead.
The film then cuts to a diner in the middle of nowhere. The diner is owned by Bob Hanson (played by Dennis Quaid), who also operates the local gas station and repair shop.
Working for Bob is his friend/cook Percy (played by Charles S. Dutton), the pregnant waitress Charlie (played by Adrianne Palicki) and his son Jeep (played by Lucas Black) who has been having dreams about something bad that was going to happen and that he has to protect Charlie for some reason.
Meanwhile, stuck at the diner are the Anderson’s which include Howard (played by Jon Tenney), his wife Sandra (played by Kate Walsh) and their daughter Audrey (played by Willa Holland). And coming to the diner is the lost Kyle (played by Tyrese Gibson) who is unable to get any reception from his cell phone, so he hopes to use the diner’s phone to make an important phone call.
Needless to say, things seem as if they were fine until television and radio reception stops and when an elderly woman named Gladys walks in. She immediately shows her true colors and starts attacking people in the diner and taking a major chomp from the neck of Howard Anderson. The woman starts climbing the walls and roof and immediately she is killed.
Meanwhile, fallen angel Michael arrives to the diner and tells them that “they” are coming. “They” being God’s angels who have been sent down to wipe out humanity and the only way to stop it from happening is by protecting Charlie who is to give birth to a baby.
Armed with guns and ammunition, Michael and the diner inhabitants fight against the scourge of people possessed by God’s angels who want to make sure that Charlie does not give birth to her baby.
With hundreds of possessed people traveling to the diner, can Michael and the diner inhabitants fight everyone off and make sure that Charlie can give birth to her baby?
“Legion” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:4o:1). The film was shot with a very short schedule and most of the action takes place in an old diner and for the most part, director Scott Stewart who has experience from his years at ILM knows what to look for in terms of using CG. Accompanied by a really talented staff, they were able to make the physical and visual effects come alive through the film.
From the horizon of oncoming swarm of fies to this creepy, brooding darkness of angel-possessed zombies. “Legion”‘s dark and brooding look definitely adds to the film. Picture quality looks great during the action sequences and the blood and gruesome effects are much more detailed in HD. Skintones are natural and blacks are nice and deep.
I didn’t notice any problems when it came to compression artifacts, edge enhancement or digital noise reduction (DNR).
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Legion” shines when it comes to its lossless audio. The film is presented in English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA and the film utilizes the surround channels and LFE to full effect.
There are times when I felt my feet rumbling because the LFE was continuous and for those with more than one subwoofer, will find this film’s low frequencies to be quite exciting. But the sound effects of the film really do catch your attention. From the swarm of flies, the amount of gun shots, machine gun shots, rifle shots and screams, “Legion” does capture that sense of fright and darkness quite well throughout the film.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.
“Legion” comes with the following special features:
- movieIQ and BD-Live – If your Blu-ray player is connected to the Internet, you can access real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the film.
- Bringing Angels to Earth – While watching the film, a picture-in-picture display will be shown with production sketches and interviews with the cast and crew.
- Creating the Apocalypse – (23:43) How the monsters were created and how physical effects came into creating the monsters. How they created Gladys, the ice cream man and the baby.
- Humanity’s Line of Defense – (11:32) The characters of “Legion”. Featuring interviews with the cast of the film who talk about their characters.
- From Pixels to Picture – (10:56) The visual effects of “Legion”. How director Scott Stewart’s experience in visual effects helped for the film and how some of the visual effects were created for the film.
“Legion” on Blu-ray comes with a digital copy of the film that can be transferred to PC via Windows Media or iTunes or onto a Sony PSP.
I have to admit that when I heard about “Legion” and what the story was about, I knew already that this film is going to be blasphemous for those of faith and of various religions.
There have been films that have touched upon the rapture and revelation but rarely do you hear about storylines featuring God and the angels being on the side of evil, especially angels taking over humans and becoming monsters preying on innocent people. And I think that is where the problem lies and its all about the failed screenplay.
On paper, director Scott Stewart can easily showcase his ILM visual effects experience but as a screenwriter, the screenplay seems more in tuned for a story suitable for a video game than a movie. How humanity survives upon one pregnant woman in the middle of nowhere and how a fallen angel and those eating at a diner becoming the protectors of this pregnant woman literally smells of kitsch.
And even an older video game like “Resident Evil 2” has a much better and more entertaining “in-diner, all monsters coming your way” type of scene than what we see in “Legion”. Visual effects, physical effects were very good but the screenplay was not. A big budget B-movie is the best way I can describe this film and in many ways, reminded me of John Carpenter’s failed film “Ghost of Mars” (which I enjoyed much more).
But the film did gross over $54 million and suffice to say, “Legion” made a lot of money and it goes to show that visual effects/action driven films resonate well with the audience. People who want quick thrills, a quick scare and for the most part, a popcorn flick will definitely enjoy “Legion”.
And this is no different for the cast of this film who have participated in films that may not have resonated well with film critics but were popcorn flicks that appealed to a large audience. From Dennis Quaid in “G.I. Joe”, Tyrese Gibson in “Transformers” and Lucas Black in “Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift”, Paul Bettany in “A Knights Tale”. The film also brings in popular TV talent with “Private Practice” actress Kate Walsh, Friday Night Lights actress Adrianne Palicki”, “LOST” actor Kevin Durand, “The OC” actress Willa Holland and Charles S. Dutton from “Threshold” and “Roc”.
The film was not short of star power and those who enjoyed “Legion” will no doubt enjoy this film on Blu-ray. Featuring impressive lossless audio and even a well-captured, dark and brooding fantasy/horror film will definitely appeal to those viewers.
Overall, “Legion” is a film that has a problematic screenplay and talent that were not utilized well at all. Many will see “Legion” as blasphemous, I also see the film as deeply flawed but with that being said, if you did enjoy the film, the Blu-ray does deliver when it comes to PQ and AQ.
But if you want a more satisfying experience, you can probably find a fantasy/horror video game with hordes of enemies and weapons galore that will more than likely be more entertaining and better scripted than “Legion”.
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