THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES (R)
Director: Mark Pellington
Producers: Ted Tannenbaum, Richard S. Wright
Written by: Richard Hatem
Cast: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Debra Messing, Will Patton
Rating: out of 5
Being the big ol’ geek that I am, I’ve always taken a more than passing interest in the paranormal world. There was a time when I would spend hours reading and re-reading books that detailed the minutia of ghost sightings, UFO sightings, bigfoot sightings and any other kind of sighting imaginable. At one point, my favorite show was “Sightings.” Some would say that I misspent my youth, but I would like to point out that I was dating at the time, though mainly with girls who shared similar interests. Okay, a girl, singular. But she was hot and she dug creepy stuff, so we fit like together like two very dorky peas in a pod. Believe me, there’s nothing more romantic than a bottle of Mountain Dew, various salty snacks, and a few books on Roswell. Anyway, my point is, I’ve always been into the supernatural, so when I read about a movie version of the famed “Mothman” legend, I was understandably stoked. Looking forward to this movie as I have been, I was actually surprised to find that, for the most part, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES lived up to my expectations.
Here’s what we know about the “real” legend: A few people in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virgina saw someone or something skulking around the neighborhood who looked like a big moth-like creature. Also, some people said it flew around a bit.
Now, that’s not a whole lot to base a movie around, so the good people behind THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES took some liberties with the story, adding in all sorts of wacky elements like soothsaying, creepy phone calls, and a predilection for picking on poor Richard Gere. Personally, I think that putting Richard Gere in a movie is a pretty risky move, seeing as how he, generally, sucks. Gere has never been what anyone would call a particularly talented actor, save for a brief moment of not-sucking in AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, so seeing his name on the poster made me very nervous. However, dislike the man though I do, I must concede that he was pretty good in this. Maybe the Dalai Lama granted him some enlightenment in the dramatic arts arena. At any rate, he’s not horrible here, so enjoy it while you can. Back to the plot…
Gere’s character is a successful Washington Post reporter whose wife (played rather unflatteringly by Debra Messing) dies after seeing something she can’t explain. He’s grieving and all that when, a few years after said death, he goes to interview a senator and mysteriously ends up in the town of Point Pleasant, 400 miles away from his intended destination. There, he befriends the sheriff played by Laura Linney. Now, is it just me, or is Linney just waaaaay to hot to be playing local law enforcement? I know that I’ve never seen a constable or magistrate in any backwater burg that had half the pouting lips and sunny-blond hair that she has. At any rate, she does a good job with a rather un-fleshed-out character, proving that that Oscar nom last year wasn’t a fluke. So they team up, becoming a poor man’s Mulder and Scully as they try to piece together the clues of The Mothman.
As I said earlier, it was a pretty good movie. My biggest problems fall squarely on the director’s shoulders. Clocking in at a too-fat two hours and fifteen mintues, the movie is paced in some parts like a funeral procession. There are too many extended shots of Richard Gere looking pensive and too many cut scenes of weird lighting effects (the director’s pet cinematic device). A more judicious editor could have trimmed this down to a lean hour-and-a-half and the movie would have been much better off. On the flip side, I must admit to getting a severe case of the willies at several points during the film. Playing the always effective card of never fully showing the bad guy, some of the creepy moments really got to me more than I care to admit. This is, however, not one of the killer-leaps-from-the-closet type of scary movies. It relies of subtlety and nuance to get under your skin and is quite good at doing so.
Like so many “based in fact” movies before it, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES puts forth a nice little theory as to just what was going on in the little town of Point Pleasant back in the day. Some of it might be quite ridiculous to you, but I for one found it pretty entertaining, so dig in you fellow paranormal geeks!
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
It’s worth a full-price ticket.
It’s worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
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