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Four schoolboy friends Jonesy (Damian Lewis), Henry (Thomas Jane), Pete (Tim Olyphant) and Beaver (Jason Lee), rescue a small retarded boy from bullies, and later discover they have a strange new ability of communal mental telepathy. Twenty years later, while on one of their annual winter log cabin reunions, they help a lost stranger struggling through the snow. But the stranger brings within him an awesome secret which threatens not only the four friends but the entire planet.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Dreamcatcher comes to Australia smelling of rotten eggs thrown all over it by US critics; and the reason is that it’s listed as a sci-fi horror flick. Fact is, this is a giant spoof, a joke perpetrated by three great talents on an unsuspecting world. Novelist Stephen King has conspired with legendary screenplay writer William Goldman and respected intelligent-sensitive filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan to hoodwink moviegoers from Maine to Melbourne. Let’s throw all the cliches in, dress it up and play it for real; then see the suckers fall for it. But Kasdan had a better idea: let’s fill it with funny lines, and give it a comic tone that sits well with the post-Tarantino cinematic language of humour-backing-splatter. Now you’re grooving, baby, said the others, but let’s keep this our little secret. The studio suits wouldn’t get the joke and they’d turn the money off. Luckily, Kasdan is one of the two producers, so he could run the show without alerting the studio. 

So that’s why Dreamcatcher features aliens who are jokingly nicknamed shit weasels; they inhabit humans and emerge after a tour of the intestines from the only door available. But to make sure the joke really sticks, there is another alien life-form, which comes straight out of the pages of a 1950s UFO circular. But to ensure there is enough money to make the stunts, explosions, special digital effects and catering big enough, they talked Morgan Freeman into playing a bad ass rogue military dude, which stamped the project with gravitas. As in gravy train. 

Nobody admitted during production that the movie was a fake, a joke and a big send up; the credentials of the creative trio at the head of the team even fooled the studio during double head screenings. Everybody reckoned the big fake Martian was an homage to the 50s. The line where the human screams at one of the aliens, “What do you want?” is another homage. The aliens emerging from bottoms (trigger word for kids) is an elaborate pooh joke, but the suits figured this was some existential shit from King and Co. The bits of bad acting were considered nothing more than profound method, and the squatting figure in the middle of the snowbound road that decorates the poster was accepted as a symbolic mystery around which the film would weave its dreamcatcher web. All of this would have come off, had there been a lot more comedy; as it turns out, some bits are not at all funny but embarrassing.

Special Features reviewed by Craig Miller:
Thankfully this pretty forgettable film gets the same forgettable treatment on DVD with a simple selection of extras which will only be of any real interest to diehard King fans (and I mean diehard!) or those poor souls who put this at the top of their movie greats pile.

A fleeting interview with Stephen King discusses the accident that nearly killed him, how that forced him to write the book long hand and a couple of other useless nuggets of information. It could have been quite good, but with a run time of around seven minutes, there is just not enough time to really get anything out of the man. Likewise, the featurette on the visual effects of Dreamcatcher is another all too brief behind the scenes look and interview segment with the visual effects creators that ends just as you think it may be ok.

As for the deleted scenes packages (without introductions or commentary), we can only assume that they were cut because of time constraints, and along with the original ending, were obviously shot to tell more background story and give the characters a little more oomph, but when a film and extras package are this bad, you just don’t care about any of that.

Published November 20, 2003

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CAST: Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Timothy Olyphant, Donnie Wahlberg

DIRECTOR: Lawrence Kasdan

SCRIPT: William Goldman, Lawrence Kasdan (novel, Stephen King)

RUNNING TIME: 128 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2.40:1 Widescreen 16:9 Enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Dream Writer: An interview with Stephen King, Dream Weavers: The visual effects of Dreamcatcher, Lifted scenes and original ending, Teaser trailer and DVD-ROM content.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: November 12, 2003

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