[box cover]

Dreamcatcher

Four childhood pals, in long-ago flashback (recalling Stand by Me and It) save a retarded kid from a beating by local bullies. The boy, nicknamed "Duddits" for his mispronunciation of his own name, is a standard King construct — the Magical Retard, possessing some sort of telepathic power that's detailed extensively in the novel but not explained at all in the film. Duddits passes on this unexplained gift for whatever-it-is to his new friends and they carry it with them into adulthood (even though it has virtually no bearing on how the film resolves.) Twenty years later, on their yearly hunting trip, the friends get snowed in at their mountain cabin — and then the aliens arrive. Based on the Stephen King novel, Dreamcatcher (2003) focuses brutally on physical impairment and bodily functions, with each character reflecting some aspect of King's own splintered body and spirit. Jonesy (Damian Lewis) has a shattered hip, as he's recovering from a similar accident to King's when he comes to the cabin. Pete (Timothy Olyphant), like King himself, is an alcoholic — and he suffers a broken leg when he and the suicidal Henry (Thomas Jane) roll their SUV in the snow. The adult Duddits (an unrecognizable Donnie Wahlberg) is dying of leukemia and constantly references "Scooby Doo." And Beaver (Jason Lee) is almost a parody of the standard annoying King character featured in every one of the author's novels — compulsively chewing on toothpicks, Lee's forced to utter an idiotic, unworkable catchphrase in virtually every scene in which he takes part. Then there's the aliens, who start out as parasitic worms that exit explosively from their victim's bowels — charmingly referred to by King's characters as "shit weasels" — before turning into eel-like creatures with vagina dentata for mouths. And the evil military guys, led by Col. Curtis (Morgan Freeman), insane from having battled the aliens for the past 25 years. All of this is framed by simply breathtaking cinematography courtesy of DP John Seale (The English Patient, A Perfect Storm) with director Lawrence Kasdan somehow managing to inject a few moments that are genuinely fun and suspenseful into the mix — all of which makes the craptastic quality of the overall film even more mindboggling. Warner's DVD release of Dreamcatcher offers the film in a beautifully crisp, clean, and saturated anamorphic transfer (2.40:1) with big, rich Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (in English or French — English, French, and Spanish subtitles available) that presents James Newton Howard's good-if-forgettable score at it's very best. Extras include "DreamWriter — An Interview with Stephen King," an interview from 2002 in which King discusses his accident, the process of writing the book and his thoughts on the film; "DreamMakers — A Journey Throught the Production," a fairly standard behind-the-scenes featurette; "DreamWeavers — The Visual Effects of DreamCatcher," a featurette on the computer effects created for the film; and deleted scenes, including a "so what?" alternate ending. Snap-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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