Published on March 24th, 2003 | by Erich Becker0
For a movie with so much plot, Dreamcatcher fails to provide any substance to any of the movie’s characters to make anything meaningful or heartfelt. Imagine a gallon jug of water filled up to the brim. This would be a movie with so much plot, it is almost too much, but you know a lot about each of the characters, you know how they feel, why they feel what they feel, and you know why they do things they do. Now image a gallon of water poured into an empty swimming pool, this is how watching Dreamcatcher feels. From time to time you might get wet, but it is nothing more than a puddle at your feet.
I’m reviewing this movie without having read Stephen King’s best selling novel of the same name, but I can only hope that the book is much, much better than the movie, or Mr. King should seriously think about retiring earlier than planned.
Dreamcatcher centers around four friends who are always thinking of each other and share a gift given to them by a mentally handicapped boy, Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg) whom they came to the rescue of when they were children. Now they can communicate telepathically, and see things that could happen, as well as pinpointing car keys, interstates, and lost little girls. Hell they even get to have Johnny Smith-like visions a la The Dead Zone. Henry (Thomas Jane), Pete (Timothy Olyphant), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), and Beaver (Jason Lee) make their annual trip to a cabin where they have been coming for 20 years, but when a couple of strangers show up it takes each of them to try and use their gifts and get out of a bad situation alive while an elite combat team attempts to contain a crashed alien spaceship.
The biggest problem with Dreamcatcher is it doesn’t feel original. Previous Stephen King movies have had original thoughts and ideas that gave you something new when you stepped into the theatre. Dreamcatcher feels like a rehash of King’s previous work, namely The Dead Zone, and an added aliens-taking-over-the-world storyline ripped from Signs and Aliens. They even go as far as naming a skin rash caused by this invasion “The Ripley.”
Hollywood must have this thing about not having interesting characters in films anymore, because two of the best, more realistic characters are dealt away with as nothing more than sentimental plot devices, while the third, Owen Underhill (Tom Sizemore) is so drastically underdeveloped he appears as fast as he disappears from the movie.
Dreamcatcher turns into a race to see how many character’s storylines we can throw on to the screen and let the audience un-jumble them before a frightfully anti-climatic climax where nothing is explained and the movie ends. There are a few cool points. The visualization of the “memory warehouse” is nice, and gives you some insight into how your memory can work for, or against, you given the situation. But even this cool visualization, the movie still fails to impress on a higher level.
Somewhere I can see the screenwriter adapting this from King’s novel and thinking that he can easily cram hundreds of pages into a two hour movie that loses it’s wheels in the first half, and completely rusts over in the second as you are left wondering just what in the hell is going on. The entire relationship between troubled commander Abraham Kurtz (Morgan Freeman) and Sizemore’s Underhill is barely touched upon, as well as their pasts, and apart from a few fleeting lines about Underhill’s father, you get absolutely no justification for his actions in the movie.
I could go on, but it would prove useless because I’m trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but Dreamcatcher is nothing but a semi-funny, semi-horror movie that mixes fart gags with big grey aliens and expects us to fill in the blanks for most of the characters. Unexpected, to the audience, these blanks are the size of a Hummer. And unlike a Hummer being filled on the inside with all the amenities you could want while driving, Dreamcatcher is empty with no viable incentives for purchasing, or watching ever again.