June 20, 2010


So I know I’ve been writing mostly of vampires and werewolves lately. So I thought that today I would completely and totally change things up and review a movie about… wait for it… killer angels. That’s right, world. Tonight I am sitting down and for no other reason than that I have nothing better to do, I am watching Legion.

We have a semi-confusing introduction bit alla Terminator in which mystery dude in a trench coat cuts off his angel wings in a dark, dingy alley. Sadly no, our fallen angel is not played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Paul Bettany headlines this little reeking gem of a movie, which I can only assume means that Paul Bettany got drunk on the lot and wandered into the wrong sound stage. He has a record of this; how else can anyone explain that time he was in Wimbledon? Someone needs to sit Paul Bettany down and say, Look Paul, we all like to get drunk on Hollywood lots from time to time, but mayhaps you should first lock yourself in the sound stage of whatever semi decent film your currently working on (say, Master and Commander or that Darwin-biopic) lest you once more wander off and wake to find yourself cast as a buck-naked medieval bard in a depressingly scripted and acted teen flick that will forever more play afternoons on TBS.

Anyway, after Michael the fallen angel/actor stitches himself up and escapes the demon-possessed police by literally blowing a fiery cross-shaped hole in a cinder block wall (no, really), the film abruptly relocates to the middle of the godforsaken desert to the “Paradise Falls” diner, which is inexplicably staffed and populated by actors who should really know better (Look Dennis Quaid, we all like to get drunk on Hollywood lots from time to time…) I’d assume that this is going to be our setting for the rest of the film, and that these shitty characters are going to but what we’re working with. We have pregnant smoking waitress, ornery alcoholic Dennis Quaid, shifty passerby black dude, heavyset cheerful black fry cook, slutty teenage girl, her completely neurotic and depressing WASP parents, and a possibly mentally-handicapped guy who is in love with pregnant waitress. At this point the television, of course, starts broadcasting an emergency message and an eerily pleasant octogenarian shows up, orders a raw steak, starts verbally abusing the customers, and morphs into a demon. Because of course that is what happens. At this point she pulls a Trainspotting-baby on the ceiling and gets gunned down, but only after ripping the neck out of WASP father with her demon shark teeth and being hit in the head with a cast iron skillet by the fry cook. This is what I like to call the “shit just got real” moment. Or, perhaps, the “shit just got surreal” moment. And then the plagues start. So now we’re just waiting for our fallen angel to show up. Which he promptly does, in a stolen police car, just in time for him to mobilize his rag tag crew of American stereotypes in order to defend the diner from an onslaught of… a killer angel driving an ice cream truck. Yes. This is the point that I started to fall totally in love with this stupid, stupid movie. Or maybe it was when Tyrese Gibson delivered this gem of a line: “You expectin’ me to explain the behavior of a motherfuckin’ pestilence?”

Anyway, the premise of Legion is this: after receiving a command from God, Michael the angel general disobeys orders and falls to earth in order to protect the waitress’s baby, who is apparently the savior of mankind. At the same time, God mobilizes his creepy angel army, led by Gabriel, to exterminate humanity and kill the unborn baby. Now, I am by no means saying that Legion is actually good. If that log line sounds like something you could suspend disbelief and enjoy on its bizarre merits alone, I’d recommend this for a Thursday night viewing, possibly with a healthy dose of libation. There are movies in this world that are so bad that they are good. These movies are what I like to call Bagoo. Somewhere along the line there badness becomes to completely and totally over the top and enjoyable that they drift back to good. Albeit, a horribly mutant strain of good, but good enough to want to show your friends, or even buy the DVD. True Bagoo movies usually have something going for them, like a cast that should know better, or extremely snappy dialogue written by a screenwriter who either hit on one-time creative gold or is slumming for a big studio paycheck. A little dose of self-awareness usually helps to send the movie back into the golden pastures of my appreciation. Take The Rock. You must adore a film that gives Sean Connery the chance to utter this line, one of the greatest ever: “Losers always wine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.” And it has Nic Cage in it, who has made a career out of trying to send bad movies over the edge into good. Just look at Wicker Man. But remember, Bagoo movies are like unicorns; not everyone can see them. Virgins are to unicorns as the slightly twisted are to Bagoo films. You sort of have to enjoy a little pain to enjoy a true Bagoo masterpiece. Because let’s be honest, no matter how good-bad they can become, these films are not Days of Heaven. One occasionally shows up on a best of list, or even gets a Criterion Collection release (Armageddon at #40?!) but they are a joy to watch primarily for their novelty. They are the filmic equivalent to a visit to the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine. And God help you if you don’t enjoy a gigantic string-ball.