Although the number of movies made from Stephen King stories is enormous, the number that have been made into good movies can be counted on the fingers of one hand . . . maybe two hands if you're feeling generous.
And we're not just talking about filmmaking hacks here. Some extremely talented people have taken some pretty big gambles on King's material. And most of them have failed spectacularly.
So perhaps it was inevitable, even expected, that "Dreamcatcher" would make such a lousy movie. After all, the source material was an entertaining but rambling wreck of a novel that attempted to fuse the feel-good aspects of King's "Stand by Me" with science-fiction and horror.
Unfortunately, the conversion from the printed page to the big screen has made many of the story's already sketchy elements even more sketchy, and the film is derivative of such gory alien-possession movies as "The Thing."
The plot has four longtime buddies Henry (Thomas Jane), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), Beaver (Jason Lee) and Pete (Timothy Olyphant) on a camping trip when they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a blizzard. While Henry and Pete find themselves stranded after a vehicular accident, Jonesy and Beaver may be in even more danger after they discover that a nearly frozen hunter they've rescued has something rather nasty inside him.
Meanwhile, U.S. Army forces, led by Col. Abraham Curtis (Morgan Freeman), are preparing to repel a possible alien invasion. And, yep, there's a connection.
Director Lawrence Kasdan and co-screenwriter William Goldman have written some very clever dialogue. But they've also had to remove a lot of the book's material as they compressed plot lines. The result is an unpleasant emphasis on gore and action, neither of which seem to be Kasdan's forte as a director.
Even the cast seems to be having problems. Freeman turns in possibly the weakest performance of his career, while the monotone Jane doesn't really make a very sympathetic hero.
Also playing with "Dreamcatcher" is "Final Flight of the Osiris," an 11-minute animated short that is part of "The Animatrix," a prequel to the "Matrix" films. It's everything "Dreamcatcher" is not exciting and to the point.
"Dreamcatcher" is rated R for graphic scenes of violence (alien attacks, gunfire and explosive mayhem), graphic gore and alien goo, occasional use of strong, sexually related profanity, vulgarity (scenes feature flatulence and other bodily functions) and brief partial nudity (male). Running time: 135 minutes.