Friday, September 4, 2015

Constantine vs. End of Days vs. Legion

Imagine a science fiction movie where alien beings were invading our universe from another dimension.  The aliens look human and only a few rare talented human beings can see the aliens for what they are, like in They Live.  A few of the more powerful aliens enter our universe inside the body of a human being and try to tear their way out of the body, like in Aliens.  The protagonist specializes in either killing the aliens with much violence, or using special high tech equipment to send the aliens back to their original dimension.

Constantine is not a science fiction movie, but the details are essentially the same.  In my description above, change every occurrence of the word "aliens" to the word "demons" and this is what the movie is about.  It is really a religious fantasy/horror film, but to me it is more like a science fiction movie enveloped in a bunch of religious mumbo jumbo.  Constantine has a rich and complex mythology, but this probably doesn't match anything you learned in Sunday School.

And this is the problem why I think that the movie only has a 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  This an interesting and exciting film, but there are going to be many people who simply don't get it, or aren't interested in this genre.   Roger Ebert called it one of his most hated films.

The acting by Keanu Reeves at times is little wooden, but I like many of the supporting actors.

End of Days has the same problem.  The movie could be summed up as "Arnold Schwarzenegger versus the Devil before Y2K."  The plot is a little sillier, where the Devil needs to mate with the "chosen" female one hour before the end of the millennium to create the anti-christ.  Had I seen the movie in the theater I would have considered it just a borderline good movie, but it makes a good $1 movie rental.  It has only an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

These films require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief.  To enjoy these movies you have to accept the rules of the universe that these characters live in.  They are best enjoyed with a bowl of popcorn and an open mind.

Charlie: "When I was a little girl, my mother would remind me each night before bed, to open up my heart to God, for He was kind, merciful, and just. Things changed when my father left a few years later, leaving her to raise me and my brothers in a place on the edge of the Mojave Desert. She never talked of a kind and merciful God again. Instead she spoke of a prophecy. Of a time when all the world would be covered in darkness and the fate of mankind would be decided. One night, I finally got the courage to ask my mother why God had changed, why He was so mad at His children. 'I don't know,' she said, tucking the covers around me, 'I guess He just got tired of all the bullshit.'"

Legion is not your typical horror movie.  God sends an army of angels to wipe out mankind.  One archangel, Michael, rebels and tries to save mankind.  The story goes that if one special child, a savior figure, can be saved, then so can humanity.  The showdown to save or destroy mankind takes place at a run down "gas and eat" on the edge of the Mojave desert.

Michael (The Archangel): "The last time God lost faith in Man, He sent a flood. This time, He sent what you see outside."
Percy Walker: "Are you saying this is the apocalypse?"
Michael (The Archangel): "I'm saying this is an extermination."

I love the performances by Paul Bettany as Michael, Kevin Durand as Gabriel, Dennis Quaid, Charles Dutton, Tyrese Gibson, and Lucas Black.  The movie is also full of great quotes:  

Percy Walker: "When I was a kid, my father would sit by my bed every night before I went to sleep.  And he's say to me, 'Percy, if you don't wake up tomorrow, if it turns out that today is your last day on earth.  Will you be proud of what you've done in this life?  Because if you ain't, you better start getting square.'"

Bob Hanson: "You know this is crazy, right? I mean... I don't even believe in God."
Michael (The Archangel): "Well, that's just fine, Bob. He doesn't believe in you either."

Michael (The Archangel):  "When God chose your kind as the object of His love, I was the first in all of heaven to bow down before you. My love, my hope for mankind was no less than His. But I have watched you trample that gift. I have watched you kill each other over race and greed... waging war over dust and rubble and the words in old books. And yet, in the midst of all this darkness, I see some people who will not be bowed. I see some people who will not give up, even when they know all hope is lost. Some people, who realize being lost is so close to being found. I see you, Jeep. Fifteen years old, your mother leaves. Your father withdraws from the world and you spend the next five years of your young life helping him find his way home. You love a woman who bears the child of another and you love her with no thought of yourself, even though you know she may never love you the way you love her. You, Jeep... you are the reason I still have faith."

Gabriel (The Archangel): "This is not your test, Michael. How dare you presume to know His heart?"
Michael (The Archangel): [putting a hand to his chest] "Because He made this one. And it tells me He shouldn't lose faith now."

Gabriel (The Archangel):  "I would not have shown you such mercy."
Michael (The Archangel): "I know. That's why you failed Him."

When I compare Legion to another apocalyptic horror film, The Mist, I think that Legion is a hundred times better.  Both movies belong to a genre of movies called Siege Films, where a group of people are inside a house or a building trying to defend themselves from something evil outside.  This may have started with westerns, but one of the most famous examples is Night of the Living Dead.  Another famous example is Assault on Precinct 13.

Legion's showdown in an old gas station/restaurant also reminded me of an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer called "Spiral".

I think that the film has shades of Terminator, with the end of the world theme and the way the archangel Michael arrived on earth reminded me of how Kyle Reese arrived in 1984.

Why it is only 19% or Rotten Tomatoes I can't understand.

The movie has inspired a new TV series which I like.

End of Days * * *
Constantine:  * * * 1/4
Legion:         * * * 1/2


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