This week, Shock Till You Drop visited the Sony Pictures lot. Our reason was two-fold. We sat in for a day's-worth of shooting on Priest - an action-horror and sci-fi creation from director Scott Stewart starring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Stephen Moyer and Christopher Plummer. And, we got a chance to watch 20 minutes of Legion, Stewart's apocalyptic thriller, again starring Bettany, not as an ass-kicking man of the cloth but the archangel Michael. It's Michael's mission in the film to protect the unborn child of Adrianne Palicki who might just be the savior of the human race when God decides to send his angels to earth to wipe us clean off of the planet.
The 20 minutes shown were selected clips highlighting some of the main themes of the film. They also introduce us to the film's ensemble cast: a colorful lot who hold up in a dusty diner when heaven unleashes hell. In the first clip, Michael smashes onto the Earth's surface, breaks the metal halo around his neck and slices the wings from his back. He loads up on guns and ammo from a nearby shop and takes on two cops who respond to a break-in. This offers us our first glimpse at an "angelic possession" when one of the officers goes all Jacob's Ladder - his body twitching like crazy until he turns into what looks like one of the vampires from 30 Days of Night (pointy teeth, black orbs for eyeballs).
Another clip - which will sure be the audience crowd-pleaser - features Gladys, a seemingly sweet old woman who enters the diner until she tells Palicki's character that her "f**kin' baby is gonna burn." Yee-haw! Later, this old crone goes ape shit and starts climbing the ceiling until she's put down.
Other bites we witnessed included "the first plague" (a storm of flies that the film's protagonists decide to drive into, not sure why) and co-stars Dennis Quaid, Charles Dutton and Bettany taking to the roof of the diner to mow down a possessed ice cream man (played by Doug Jones - creepy to the hilt) and a convoy of other possessed folks.
Dutton does a good job selling his role as a cook with a hook for a hand (no kidding) who knew Armageddon was coming he just "didn't think he was going to be around to see it." Then again, Dutton is always decent, an adequate go-to guy for material like this. Quaid is as crusty as ever as the diner owner and we didn't get enough of Lucas Black (playing Quaid's son) to really get a handle on his character, however, Bettany shares a potent scene with him that sheds some light on why Michael slipped out of God's grasp.
Legion looks like a movie with a lot of good ideas packaged in a retooled siege scenario. What Stewart brings to the table to make it fresh is still up in the air; much of what I saw I've seen before in many other films. Is there anything especially scary? Well, the Gladys part works quite well, and Doug Jones - in the brief few minutes we see him - demonstrates the power an angelic possession does to the human body.
Again, good scenes that have my interest. Now, I know there's a tremendous angel army showdown to come in the film - which is hinted at the in the trailer. Seeing some snippets from that might have given me a taste of Stewart's grasp on action, but I suppose there have to be a few surprises, right?
The jury is still out on Legion, for me at least. There's palpable enthusiasm from Stewart seen on the screen. And I'm open to the concept of the film amid the wave of remakes we've been getting. Fingers crossed it delivers on the execution and the wild imagination hinted at this menagerie of clips.
Legion opens on January 22.
Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor