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Supernatural Movies and the Curse of TV's "Supernatural"

The Ice Cream Man in "Legion" looks frightening, but  -- like the movie itself -- goes nowhere.
The Ice Cream Man in "Legion" looks frightening, but -- like the movie itself -- goes nowhere.
NCM/Bold Films

 When the new Mel Gibson action movie Edge of Darkness and the romantic comedy When In Rome open tomorrow, chances are they'll knock Legion (which opened last week behind Avatar) out of its spot. And rightly so, because Legion is pretty terrible. 

All the same,  you should always pick a bad movie over a mediocre one. If you see a movie that warrants nothing more than a "meh" after the credits roll, you haven't been given a lot to digest.

But if a movie does a lot of things wrong, it gives you a lot to think about and discuss when it's over. Here are some of the things to think about when watching Legion

  • How many of the actors in it -- Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Adrianne Palicki of Friday Night Lights, Charles S. Dutton and Paul Bettany -- deserved better.
  • How it had two screenwriters, but didn't feel like something two people collaborated on. Rather, it felt more like one person wrote the (better, promising) first half of the movie, while someone else came along and hammered out the (ridiculous, boring) second.
  • How it contained some fairly horrific imagery (like the ice cream man, pictured) which belonged in a better movie. 
  • How wasted the ice cream man scene was. It starts off well-enough: We hear the chimes of an ice cream truck coming out of the darkness. Great so far. We're building tension. The driver gets out, contorts his body into a weird spider shape. Even better. He's freaky. What's he gonna do? Well, he's gonna get gunned down almost immediately.
  • How any of the scariness or tension the movie might have built up early on was washed away by the appearance of winged angels in armor.

 But if you're a fan of the TV show Supernatural, you may have also been thinking "I bet Sam and Dean would have handled this more effectively, and in half the running time."
In case you're not familiar, Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean (Jensen Eckles) are the brothers at the center of Supernatural, which airs on the CW network and is one of the more underrated things on TV right now.

 And lately, it's been the standard by to which one can judge all new horror movies. Sure, it's not really fair to compare movies and TV, but ask yourselves, Supernatural watchers: When you see a new horror movie, how often do you think to yourself "I'd rather be watching Supernatural"? Seventy percent of the time? Eighty?

It was certainly true seeing the Friday the 13th reboot last year, which actually starred Padelecki. It was pretty bad, even as far as  "Masked Psycho Picks Off Stupid Teenager" movies go, and it was hard not think "You know, Sam and Dean have faced a lot worse than some undead idiot in a hockey mask."

Legion didn't feature anyone from Supernatural, * but it did include a plot device that the show has been using, with much, much more success, for the last season and a half: the idea that angels exist, but they're rather terrifying beings that aren't really on our side.

Yeah, they want to fight demons and the devil, but they're more than happy to use earth as their battleground, and if a few billion people die, well, you can't make an omelet, etc. etc.

And to Supernatural's credit, its angels would actually use a phrase like "you can't make an omelet..." They're fleshed out characters, unlike the Legion angels, who conduct themselves with an unrelenting seriousness.

With better special effects and a bigger budget, Legion was able to give us at the frightening way angels might look (the ice cream man, an old lady who crawls on the ceiling like a spider), something Supernatural has only suggested. Too bad it failed to measure up on virtually every other score.


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