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Who Duddits? He da Dreamcatcher man!
Mar 22, 2003 (Updated Apr 28, 2003)
Review by flamepillar
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Great setting in the snowy woods. Using a pistol as a cell phone...HAHAHA!
Cons:Compromised ending, military subplot is intrusive. Without the book it's a mess.
The Bottom Line: Only see the movie Dreamcatcher if you have read the book by Stephen King, that's what I'd say.
Dreamcatcher is one of Stephen King's finest novels. The thing literally kept me awake all hours of the night for as long as I was reading it. (Of course, to be fair, I work overnight) All I wanted to know was what was going to happen next. However, much like life, the book follows an unavoidable axiom. That being, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans." So it wasn't so much getting to the next big revelation that was so great. It's what was happening in the meantime that ended up being the most memorable.
Recommend this product?
Well, that's the perfect setup for an argument that would rip the movie based on Dreamcatcher to shreds, but I'm not going there. I think the best advice to give is what most readers would tell you -- if you haven't read the book, then don't see the movie. If you have read it, then see the movie... if you're interested.
The movie is about as true to the book as you can get, except for the ending which has been typically "Hollywoodized". If you're up for some spoilers, I'll elaborate on that later.
So the story, well let's see. There are these four guys -- Pete, Jonesy, Beaver and Henry, who have been friends since childhood. They make a new friend one day in Douglas when protecting him from some threatening older kids. Douglas has a mental handicap and calls himself "Duddits", so that's what they call him as well. The four friends gain some otherworldly mind-reading and occasionally precognitive powers from Duddits, and the powers have stayed with them all their lives.
Nowadays they don't see much of each other except for when they get together in a secluded cabin up in Maine. The story takes place on one of these getaways, way out in the snowy woods. While sitting in a tree with his rifle, waiting for some unsuspecting prey, Henry (who recently got hit by a car, boy did that look fake!) sets his sights on something moving down below. It looks just like a deer... but wait a minute, it's a MAN! I was pretty impressed with how closely the movie mirrored my own mind's visions as I read the book; many things looked exactly as I had pictured them all those months ago.
Well, the guy's having some serious constipation problems, so Henry invites his farting ^ss inside, offers him some soup, opens the window, you know. Next thing you know, the guy's asleep, looking pregnant. Hours later, he's bleeding all over the place. To make a long story short, something has been growing inside of him and, well, let's just say there's plenty more where that came from.
Well, if you haven't read the book then I don't wanna spoil it for you, but at the same time, I know that if you haven't read it, then the movie is going to look like a complete mess. There are so many things that happen throughout Dreamcatcher that defy logical explanation, but at least make some sense based on King's extravagantly written illustrations. (Written illustrations, how 'bout that.)
Morgan Freeman's signature subtlety overpowers the misanthropic tendencies of his character, Colonel Abraham Kurtz. Although he has the perfect look for the guy, we know him too well for this to be his kind of role. Somehow I think Morgan Freeman as God will end up being more believable. Nevertheless he does a typically fine job with what he has.
Tom Sizemore is really good as Captain Owen Underhill, who is under Kurtz' authority, but is not as anxious to wipe out the "perceived threat" out there.
Thomas Jane leads the pack as Henry; he pulls off a good stern performance as the suicidal doctor who goes from not knowing what to do to knowing almost too well. He was exactly as I had pictured Henry; maybe not as heavy.
Jason Lee was a kind of interesting pick for Beaver; he had some lighthearted childlike exuberance about him. It almost pulls the movie into that Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back direction, but when things get serious, he knows what to do.
Damian Lewis plays Jonesy; he ended up being my favorite. At one point, he has to start playing a dual personality that screams "Over the top!!!" This is forgivable, however, considering that the entire movie is over the top.
Timothy Olymphant completes the square with Pete; he played Mickey in Scream 2 for those who are trying to remember "Where have I seen that guy before?" That was about to drive me crazy. He has that perfect "I know everything" kind of attitude about him, but his character has grown accustomed to hiding it over the years.
If nothing else, the fact that these four guys are not blatantly recognizable helps their integrity as a believable group of friends. There are a few moments here and there that they seem about as convincing as actors in a school play (The part where they're sitting at the table and someone says "Just thinkin' about Duddits, man." "Yeah..." comes to mind.) but otherwise, when the going gets tough, the tough get acting.
I'll tell you this much, Dreamcatcher is no Misery; it doesn't have the simple plot that can be explained within the restriction of two hours, and to go too far in explaining many of the plots (assuming that they are included at all) waters down the tension. So having read the book, I am glad that the movie "cuts to the chase" as often as it does. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that the movie will spread itself thin in certain areas; the entire military sideplot, for one, becomes superfluous in the transition, and I think it might have worked better as a movie if that whole thing had been omitted entirely.
***SPOILERS! (Not that it matters!)***
I thought that considering the time restraints, the movie did a fantastic job capturing the real essence of the story that is Dreamcatcher. Jonesy's getting trapped inside of his own mind after being possessed by Mr. Gray, the "alien leader", was well played out. What little I was able to make in the way of pictures in my mind from reading the book, that all made a bit more sense in the context in which it was presented in the movie. Jonesy looking out the window at himself, telling himself not to do certain things, and of course, sneaking out to retrieve information from his memory before Mr. Gray could get to it. It's sheer madness, but hey, it's all about believing the unbelievable. One big loss the movie suffers from the book is that it hasn't the time to elaborate on Mr. Gray's fixation with the temptations of being a human, his obsession with bacon and all that. Also I recall a part where Mr. Gray tried to make Jonesy open the door to the last reserves of his mind by making it hot. Most of the stuff that happens in Jonesy's mind in the book doesn't happen in the movie; it's a minor conflict that happens while he's rushing to the water reserve. Jonesy calls Henry from the inside of his mind at one point, and Henry answers the call on the pistol he is holding in his hand, using it just like a cell phone. That is one scene right there that gets funnier every time I think about it. Thank God there are movies in the world that aren't ashamed to do something like that!
The movie ending vs. the Book ending
Needless to say, monster spoiler alert!
So you might be a little worried, if you've read the book, about how the ending was "compromised". My memory of the book's ending is extremely fuzzy; from what little I recall, Duddits dies while in Henry's arms. In the movie, Duddits has some serious power against Mr. Gray (when he first "reaches out" from inside the car and Jonesy/Mr. Gray reacts, then they zoom in on Duddits' eyes, WOW will that moment stick with me) and as it will turn out, Duddits is some sort of alien himself, and he saves the day at the last moment. He arrives, looking all weak and leukemia-ridden, hobbling towards Mr. Gray after scaring him out of Jonesy. Just when he's been stabbed through the chest, he raises his arms and says I Duddits!, growing a long scorpion tail and nailing Mr. Gray right in the back of the head, then they both just disappear. One tiny worm is left, about to get into the water supply, but Jonesy steps on it. He and Henry smile at each other knowingly, end of movie.
In a way I kind of see why they did it that way, they leave you with kind of a "Rock on!" feeling; after all this time, thinking of Duddits as a kind of physically weak person with sagelike powers in his mind, you get to see him come out and kick some ^ss a different way. Thus my referring to the "Hollywoodization" of the ending, because one way or another, they have to make it look like "we won". Especially after all the pain they inflicted on us, those bastards!
***END OF SPOILERS***
I'm not exactly a Dreamcatcher fanboy or anything; I liked the book, I liked the movie. There were differences, but they're just that. Differences. From the moment I saw the preview, I knew Dreamcatcher could not possibly make a good movie without being at least a little different. I might not have changed the same things that they did, but I think every person has his/her own ideas of what would be best to change. That's part of what made the book great.. so great in fact that I couldn't even begin to review THAT. Wish I had now.
Wait a second, did they accidentally put in the reel for "The Matrix: Reloaded"?
Yeah I actually forgot that this was coming. It's an "Animatrix" cartoon that precedes the movie. What a treat it was to watch! Yeah, you can still tell that it's a cartoon and not real people but you really gotta look! It opens with a steamy sex-sword-fight between a girl and a guy; they hack each other until they're all but naked, only to be brought out of their little "construct program" and into the real world, where they are being chased by sentinels. It's an awesome sight to behold; what (if anything) it has to do with the Reloaded movie, I have no clue, but I kinda like it that way :)
Okay, thanks for stopping by!
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