There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
Oscars Shmoscars. The Annie Awards are where the real glory is.
In all seriousness, animation is an unappreciated medium, so the 2011 Annie Awards is a phenomenon that really deserves our attention. The nominations are in for this year's awards ceremony, celebrating the art, production, writing, directing and acting in animated projects.
As you check out the nominees below, begin to realize that you're not nearly as happy as you could be. Then, watch all of the movies listed. Problem solved.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
A Cat in Paris – Folimage
Arrugas (Wrinkles) – Perro Verde Films, S.L.
Arthur Christmas – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Cars 2 – Pixar Animation Studios
Chico & Rita – Chico & Rita Distribution Limited
Kung Fu Panda 2 – DreamWorks Animation
Puss In Boots – DreamWorks Animation
Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Rio – Blue Sky Studios
Tintin – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
BEST ANIMATED SPECIAL PRODUCTION
Adventure Time: Thank You – Cartoon Network Studios
Batman: Year One – Warner Bros. Animation
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas – Blue Sky Studios
Kung Fu Panda – Secrets of the Masters – DreamWorks Animation
Prey 2 –Blur Studio
Star Tours – Industrial Light & Magic
BEST ANIMATED SHORT SUBJECT
Adam and Dog – Lodge Films
I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat – Warner Bros. Animation
La Luna – Pixar Animation Studios
(Notes on) Biology – Ornana Films
Paths of Hate – Platige Image
Sunday – National Film Board of Canada
The Ballad of Nessie –Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Girl and the Fox – Base14
Wild Life – National Film Board of Canada and Studio GDS
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION COMMERCIAL
Audi “Hummingbird” – The Mill
Geico “Foghorn” – Renegade Animation
McDonald’s “Apple Tree” – Duck Studios/Kompost
McDonald’s “Suzi Van Zoom” – Duck Studios/Kompost
Norton “Stuff”– Psyop
O2 “Niggles & Narks” – The Mill
Statoil “Good Night” – Studio AKA
“The Pirate” – Meindbender
Twinings “Sea” – Psyop
BEST GENERAL AUDIENCE ANIMATED TV PRODUCTION
Archer – FX Productions
Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Warner Bros. Animation
Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas - Hallmark
MAD – Warner Bros. Animation
Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2 – Starburns Industries, Inc.
Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
The Simpsons – Gracie Films
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION PRODUCTION - PRESCHOOL
Chuggington – Ludorum Pictures
Disney's Jake and the Never Land Pirates – Disney Television Animation
Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Disney Television Animation
The WotWots Season 2 – Pukeko Pictures
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION PRODUCTION - CHILDREN
Fanboy and Chum Chum – Nickelodeon and Frederator
Kung Fu Panda – DreamWorks Animation
Penguins of Madagascar – DreamWorks Animation
The Amazing World of Gumball – Cartoon Network in Association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
BEST ANIMATED VIDEO GAME
Bumpy Road – Simogo
Catherine – Atlus
Gears of War 3 – Epic Games
Gesundheit – Konami Digital Entertainment
Ghost Trick: “Phantom Detective” – Capcom
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet – Shadow Planet Productions, Gagne/Fuelcell
Ratchet and Clark: All 4 One – Insomniac
Rayman Origins – Ubisoft Montpellier
Unchartered 3: Drake’s Deception – Naughty Dog
ANIMATED EFFECTS IN AN ANIMATED PRODUCTION
Can Yuksel “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Chase Cooper “Rango” Industrial Light & Magic
Dan Lund “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dave Tidgewell “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Eric Froemling “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Jason Mayer “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Joel Aron “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Jon Reisch “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Kevin Romond “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Willi Geiger “Rango” Industrial Light & Magic
ANIMATED EFFECTS IN A LIVE ACTION PRODUCTION
Branko Grujcic “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” Industrial Light & Magic
Florent Andarra “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Industrial Light & Magic
Gary Wu “Cowboys & Aliens” Industrial Light & Magic
Lee Uren “Cowboys & Aliens” Industrial Light & Magic
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Chad Sellers “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Michael Franceschi “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon
Rebecca Wilson Bresee “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Sihanouk Mariona “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Tony Smeed “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Andreas Deja “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dan Wagner “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jeff Gabor “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Mark Henn “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Olivier Staphylas “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Patrik Puhala “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Pierre Perifel “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A LIVE ACTION PRODUCTION
Andy Arnett “HOP” Rhythm & Hues, Illumination Entertainment
David Lowry “Paul” Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal
Productions/Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions
Eric Reynolds “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” 20th Century Fox
Mike Hull “Paul” Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal
Productions/Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions
CHARACTER DESIGN IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Bill Schwab “Prep & Landing” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Carl Raggio “Disney Kick Buttowski” Disney Television Animation
Chad Hurd “Archer” FX Productions
Chris Battle “Dan Vs.” Starz Film Roman
Eric Robles “Fanboy and Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Gordon Hammond “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Mike Dougherty “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Robert Ryan Cory “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” Cartoon Network Studios
CHARACTER DESIGN IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Jay Shuster “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Mark “Crash” McCreery “Rango” Paramount Pictures and
Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Patrick Mate “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Peter de Seve “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Sergio Pablos “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
DIRECTING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Brian Sheesley “Dan Vs.” Starz Film Roman
Chris Savino & Clay Morrow “ Disney Kick Buttowski” Disney Television Animation
Dan Riba “Ben 10 Ultimate Alien” Cartoon Network Studios
Duke Johnson “Community” 23 D Films, Inc.
Gabe Swarr “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon
Ken Bruce “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Kevin Deters & Stevie Wermers-Skelton “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Matthew Nastuk “The Simpsons” Gracie Films
Mic Graves & Ben Bocquelet “The Amazing World of Gumball”
Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Peter Hausner “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” Wil Film
Steve Loter, Christo Stamboliev, Shaun Cashman, David Knott “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Tony Craig “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” Hallmark
DIRECTING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Carlos Saldahna “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Chris Miller “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Don Hall & Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Gore Verbinski “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present a Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Jennifer Yuh Nelson “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Kelly Asbury “Gnomeo & Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
MUSIC IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Adam Berry, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Ben Locket “The Amazing World of Gumball” Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Frederik Wiedmann “Green Lantern The Animated Series” Warner Bros. Animation
Grace Potter, Michael Giacchino “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Joel McNeely, Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda “Pixie Hollow Games” DisneyToon Studios
Kevin Kliesch “Thundercats” Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network
Shawn Patterson, Zeb Wells “Robot Chicken” ShadowMachine and Stoopid Monkey in association with Adult Swim
MUSIC IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Henry Jackman “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
John Williams “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Mikael Mutti, Siedah Garrett, Carlinhos Brown, Sergio Mendes, John Powell, “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Zooey Deschannel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
PRODUCTION DESIGN IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Mark Bodner, Chris Tsirgiotis, Sue Mondt and Daniel Elson “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” Cartoon Network Studios
Peter Martin “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” Hallmark
PRODUCTION DESIGN IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Harley Jessup “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Paul Felix “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Raymond Zilbach “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Tom Cardone, Kyle MacNaughton & Peter Chan “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
STORYBOARDING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Barry W. Johnson “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Benton Connor “Regular Show” Cartoon Network Studios
Brian Kesinger “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dave Thomas “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Fred Gonzalez “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Joe Mateo “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Justin Nichols “Fanboy & Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Katie Rice “Fanboy & Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Rebecca Sugar “Adventure Time” Cartoon Network Studios
STORYBOARDING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Bob Logan “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
David Gosman “Rango” Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Gary Graham “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jeremy Spears “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Josh Hayes “Rango” Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Kris Pearn “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Nelson Yokota “Gnomeo and Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Philip Craven “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Scott Morse “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
VOICE ACTING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Carlos Alazraqui as Denzel Crocker “Fairly OddParents” Nickelodeon
Dan Harmon as Jekyll “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Daran Norris as Cosmo “Fairly OddParents” Nickelodeon
Dee Bradley Baker as Obi-Wan “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Diedrich Bader as Batman “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” Warner Bros. Animation
H. Jon Benjamin as Sterling Archer “Archer” FX Productions
Jeff Bennett as Kowalski “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Jeff B. Davis as Victor Frankenstein “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Jessica Walter as Malory Archer “Archer” FX Productions
Judy Greer as Cheryl Tunt “Archer” FX Productions
Logan Grove as Gumball “The Amazing World of Gumball” Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Scott Adsit as the Creature “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Tara Strong as Timmy Turner “Fairly OddParents – Operation Dingleberg” Nickelodeon
VOICE ACTING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Ashley Jensen as Bryony “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Bill Nighy as Grandsanta “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Gary Oldman as Shen “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
James Hong as Mr. Ping “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jemaine Clement as Nigel “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Jim Cummings as Featherstone “Gnomeo and Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Alexander Dumpty “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
WRITING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Blake Lemons, William Reiss, C.H. Greenblatt, Derek Evanick, Diana Lafyatis, Neil Graf “Disney Fish Hooks – Fish School Musical”
Disney Television AnimationCarolyn Omine “The Simpsons -Treehouse of Horror XXII” – Gracie Films
Dani MIchaeli, Sean Charmatz, Nate Cash, Luke Brookshier, Paul
Tibbitt “SpongeBob SquarePants - Patrick’s Staycation” Nickelodeon
Josh Weinstein “Futurama - All The President’s Heads” The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Kevin Sullivan, Will Schifrin, Ray DeLaurentis “TUFF Puppy Thunder Dog” Nickelodeon
Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis “Agua Unit Patrol Squad 1 – The Creditor” Williams Street Studios, Adult Swim
Ray DeLaurentis, Will Schifrin “Fairly OddParents “Invasion of the Dads” Nickelodeon
Steve Wermers-Skelton, Kevin Deters “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
WRITING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Kathy Greenburg, Emily Cook, Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith, Kelly Asbury, Steve Hamilton “Gnomeo & Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Brian Kesinger, Kendelle Hoyer, Don Dougherty, Clio Chang, Don Hall, Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Sarah Smith, Peter Baynham “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman AnimationsSteve Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cronish “Tintin” Amblin
Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
EDITING IN TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Garret Elkins “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburn Industries, Inc.
Hugo Morales “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon Jason W.A. Tucker “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Paul D. Calder “Futurama” The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano, Bob Tomlin “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
EDITING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Clare Knight, A.C.E. “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Craig Wood, A.C.E. “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon
Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Eric Dapkewicz “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Michael Kahn “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Stephen Schaffer, A.C.E. “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Winsor McCay Award – Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring, Robert Searle
June Foray – Art Leonardi
Special Achievement – Depth Analysis
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.