Starring Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore, Jason Lee, Donnie Wahlberg

The adaptation of Stephen King’s novel brings us a surprisingly good story and saves us the inevitable chore of reading nearly 900 pages (in paperback; hardcover, 600). Following loosely in the footsteps as some of his other notable Horror-ish works, including It and Tommyknockers, (both of which I read and enjoyed heaps), King weaves a story about four childhood friends from Derry, now grown, who encounter a strange epidemic-turned-military-quarantine during their annual hunting trip. There are nods to some of his other stories, including Stand By Me, The Shining, even Cujo. (Leave it to King to turn an act as simple as going the bathroom into something to give kids, and some grown-ups, nightmares). The not-so-usual King cliché’s ensue: A secret alien invasion. A secret conspiring military force, complete with insane military commander (Freeman). A gifted, heroic handicapped character (Wahlberg), who shares a gift with our fearless foursome. Aliens coming out of humans’ and animals’, um, 'basement doors'. In fairness, this flick may strike a common chord with many of King’s fans, who appreciate his unique storytelling style. Dreamcatcher is probably more at home with fans of X-Files. I may pick up the hardcover in hopes it exceeds the video. Perhaps most surprising is who sucked and who shined. Morgan Freeman’s performance is exploding-backed-up-toilet bad. (Flashbacks to Outbreak, Chain Reaction, and Sum of All Fears. They can't all be SEVEN). Worse than Al Pacino in The Recruit. Donnie Wahlberg is surprisingly good. I didn’t even recognize him. Jason Lee’s performance is also noteworthy. A recurring theme in this movie was SSDD, or Same Shit Different Day. At two hours and sixteen minutes, I can offer you no better warning.

William Goldman (The General’s Daughter, The Chamber, The Princess Bride), wrote the screenplay with Director/Producer Lawrence Kasdan, and has adapted King’s work previously, (Hearts in Atlantis, Misery). Kasdan’s repertoire is impressive, including Empire Strikes Back & Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Grand Canyon and The Big Chill. John Seale’s delicious cinematography is regrettably lost in a work which should never have been more than a made-for-TV-movie.

Rating: 2/5

5/5: Drop everything and go see it today
4/5: Definitely worth seeing in theaters
3/5: Easily worth the price of the matinee
2/5: Last Choice at Blockbuster
1/5: Keep your money, stay home & channel surf

Winner of Martum’s 2003 Award for Most Crossed Genre’s (Horror/Gore/Sci-Fi/Drama/Action/Adventure/Comedy/Tragedy). The only ones missing are Romantic Mystery Documentary—where is Woody Allen when you need him?)