I don't think I'm the only one who expected more out of this movie, with its very impressive pedigree. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, screenplay by William Goldman, starring, among others, Morgan Freeman and Tom Sizemore... that's a whole lot of people whose work I enjoy. So why am I left with such a hollow feeling?
The more astute among you will note that Stephen King is not on that list. I fell out of love with King long, long ago, and Dreamcatcher didn't do much to change that stance. This tale of small-scale alien invasion and infection plays out like Stephen King's Greatest Hits, with plot elements echoing It, Stand By Me ("The Body", for you King purists), The Shining, Firestarter, The Stand, even "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrel" from Creepshow. That you also spend a fair amount of the movie suffering from an Outbreak flashback doesn't help matters much, either. Nor does the fact that Goldman and Kasdan have done a good job of bringing King's dialogue to the screen, which paradoxically looks natural on the printed page but sounds dreadful coming from actual human mouths. I won't even get into the man's apparent fascination with the scatological.
Dreamcatcher isn't a bad movie, it just isn't a great movie. Like a lot of high-profile genre movies, the quality production values are definitely there, but so are the marks of the cookie cutter. There's nothing here we haven't seen before, just with a higher budget and a lack of the essential spark and heart that so often makes up for lack of funds in lesser productions.
An excellent transfer of a nicely filmed movie. The menu design is well done, echoing a window motif that occurs throughout the movie.
There's a little too much cuteness in titling the featurettes - okay, that may just be grumpiness on my part, but c'mon... "DreamWriter", "DreamMakers" and "DreamWeavers"? Urgh.
"DreamWriter" is an interview with Stephen King, reflecting on, among other things, his near-fatal pedestrian-van accident referenced in Dreamcatcher; "DreamMakers" is a more generalized making-of feature, built on interviews with Kasdan and cast members; and "DreamWeavers" covers the visual effects (which are quite good, no matter how I feel about the rest of the movie).
"Lifted Scenes" gives you four scenes that were edited out or shortened, and wouldn't have added much to the movie. This section also contains the original ending, which is no less confusing than the ending that actually made it into the theaters, but is at least refreshingly free of the faux apocalyptic feeling that seems to afflict every big-budget genre movie (it also has a nice coda that would have helped the theatrical version, too). The last scene, "One Worm Kills The World", features actors goofing around in very deadpan manner.
Rounding out the package is a teaser trailer (which, while revealing nothing, still allows you to think "Dang, but that's derivative!") and a "Cast and Crew" page, in case you don't want to, um, watch the end credits, I guess.
Dr. Freex, 2/25/2004