Four boys, Henry, Beaver, Jonesy and Pete, save a mentally
challenged boy from being taunted and beaten by older boys.
Douglas Cavell, soon known as Duddits because of his hands
raised exclamation of "I duddits" instead of "done it", now
sees the boys as close friends. Duddits is discovered to be
more than he seems when he imparts certain abilities on them,
including telepathy and uncanny seeing skills, which help
them find a missing girl. Years later, and now adults, the
four are enjoying their annual reunion when a sick man staggers
from out of the woods. Inside him gestates a worm-like parasitic
creature, which leads to an early confrontation with a large
alien to become known as Mr Gray. All the natural creatures
inhabiting the mountainous areas flee and are quickly superseded
by the army, led by Colonel Abraham Curtis. Curtis quarantines
the region and incarcerates all those who carry the rust-like
infection of the aliens. An attack on a crashed spacecraft
triggers its self-destruction, but the menace is far from
over. Curtis plans on sterilising the entire area, but the
four friends have other ideas. When Jonesy is possessed by
Mr Gray his subconscious retreats to the Memory Warehouse,
the only part of his mind that the invader can't penetrate.
Henry realises that Duddits' extraordinary abilities means
he knew this would happen from the time they were boys, and
that he was always the focus of their group. But Duddits is
older now and is sick with leukaemia...
previous reviews I have revealed that I am not a fan of Stephen
King on the printed page. A wealth of original ideas are often
tainted by the need to describe the floral wallpaper and regency
furniture, information most readers simply don't want to know.
Film adaptations are another matter, however. Although there
have been some derisory attempts to convert King's fertile
imagination to celluloid form, a handful of films based on
his books have succeeded spectacularly: The Dead Zone,
Misery, The Shawshank Redemption, and The
Green Mile, to name but a handful. Whilst Dreamcatcher
is not as emotionally compelling as these, it is gripping
all the same. You get the impression that all the stops have
been pulled out to produce the best film possible from the
book. Acting, special effects and scenery combine in a not
often seen synergy.
How do you show alien parasitic creatures gestating inside
human or animal hosts without seeming to emulate the science
fiction classic Alien? Answer: you make the connection
obvious by having the military nickname them "The Ripleys".
Much as this description may make you think otherwise, appearance
and motives are not even close to the Alien movies,
and even Mr Gray turns out to be a shape-changing creature
which uses the standard alien look, albeit on a much larger
scale, for its own nefarious motives. The scene with the worm
parasite in the toilet is both hilarious and chilling, and
was said to have been used as a location in the book by King
because he felt it was the only room left in a house which
people don't want to see beyond in a movie.
Dreamcatcher of the title is mainly a metaphor for the prophetic
bonding of the four friends. As a child Duddits creates an
image in the air of a Red Indian dreamcatcher (which is said
to have had the ability to prevent bad dreams from taking
form, or allowing evil spirits through) in the air. The four
friends later create the real thing; four circles with another
in the centre representing Duddits. It hangs in the cabin
where they meet yearly. Donnie Wahlberg, as one of seven headlining
names in the film, will no doubt receive plaudits for his
portrayal of the adult Duddits, when clearly Andrew Robb as
the young version is so much better. He is a little aloof,
somewhat strange and yet very friendly, and all of this comes
across extremely well.
mass exodus of animals from the forest looks Jumanji-like,
when this kind of CGI was in its infancy, but as we witness
the movements from a distance the shortfalls are not so evident.
There is so much to appreciate here. The spiral architecture
of the Memory Warehouse, packed-out from floor to high ceiling
with dusty boxes, and labelled with subject information, is
impressive, as is the way we see Jonesy inside the room protected
from Mr Gray, even though he is possessed by the creature.
picture and sound quality on this widescreen version is superb.
Extras include five alternate or extended scenes, an interview
with writer Stephen King (in which he comes across friendly
and enthusiastic), a behind the scenes feature, a visual effects
feature, a film trailer and DVD ROM stuff. Coupled with the
film running time of 134 minutes, all on one disc, this makes
for an impressive and cost effective package.
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