Paul Bettany in 'Legion'This is an interesting weekend for Paul Bettany fans.

In the supernatural thriller 'Legion' he plays the Archangel Michael who voluntarily falls to Earth to rescue mankind from an Apocalypse brought about by God. In the biopic 'Creation,' which also opened Friday, he portrays 19th-century scientist Charles Darwin, father of evolutionary biology and hero to atheists everywhere. Now that's range!

'Legion' is set in a desolate diner where a motley group of strangers, including Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton and Tyrese Gibson, join forces with the insurgent Michael to battle the exterminating angels sent by God (who's so disgusted with humanity he wants to wipe it out). Pregnant waitress Adrianne Palicki, carrying the future hope of mankind, is specially targeted for destruction.

The film, Scott Stewart's directorial debut, was not screened for critics (never a good sign), so few reviews have been published in major outlets. However, many non-mainstream reviewers have weighed in and almost everyone agrees that while there are thrills to be had and Bettany is predictably solid, 'Legion' suffers from a lack of originality and very faulty theology, among other things. Here's what they had to say: Paul Bettany in 'Legion'This is an interesting weekend for Paul Bettany fans.

In the supernatural thriller 'Legion' he plays the Archangel Michael who voluntarily falls to Earth to rescue mankind from an Apocalypse brought about by God. In the biopic 'Creation,' which also opened Friday, he portrays 19th-century scientist Charles Darwin, father of evolutionary biology and hero to atheists everywhere. Now that's range!

'Legion' is set in a desolate diner where a motley group of strangers, including Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton and Tyrese Gibson, join forces with the insurgent Michael to battle the exterminating angels sent by God (who's so disgusted with humanity he wants to wipe it out). Pregnant waitress Adrianne Palicki, carrying the future hope of mankind, is specially targeted for destruction.

The film, Scott Stewart's directorial debut, was not screened for critics (never a good sign), so few reviews have been published in major outlets. However, many non-mainstream reviewers have weighed in and almost everyone agrees that while there are thrills to be had and Bettany is predictably solid, 'Legion' suffers from a lack of originality and very faulty theology, among other things. Here's what they had to say:

Variety: "A dramatically muddled but surprisingly involving bible-themed fantasy thriller that imagines Armageddon in a dingy roadside diner, a la 'The Prophecy' meets 'The Petrified Forest.' Even when the blood-and-thunder hokiness of the over-the-top plot tilts perilously close to absurdity, the admirably straight-faced performances by well cast lead players provide just enough counter balance to sustain curiosity and sympathy."

Entertainment Weekly: "Alas, after a brisk start, the script turns out to be a rough and humorless beast slouching its way towards utter ludicrousness. 'The future has been unwritten!' intones Bettany at one point. But there are times when 'Legion' barely seems to have been written at all."

'Legion' trailer


'Legion' showtimes and tickets
More 'Legion' reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

IGN: "This 'chosen one' subplot isn't the only story element familiar from other genre movies. As previously said, the overall gist of 'Legion' is reminiscent of every 'Devil comes to Earth' movie we've seen, just with God instead of Satan. Even the ensemble of characters are all familiar types: someone who has lost their faith (and, of course, another who is pious), someone who is more heroic than they ever expected they could be, someone tasked with a mission they didn't ask for, people who break down in the wrong place at the wrong time, a criminal who isn't as bad as he seems, and the good soldier who disobeys orders because it's the right thing to do. We know exactly where this story is headed from the moment we meet these characters, so there's precious little suspense generated."

New York Daily News: "There are a couple of decent action scenes, and Bettany approaches the slapped-together script with impressive seriousness. But even if you overlook the lousy lighting, awkward editing, and uneven acting, there's so much talking -- and so little story -- that your mind is likely to wander. When that happens, we recommend making a list of all the movies that donated various plot points to this one. Like 'The Terminator.' Or 'Daybreakers.' Or the entire oeuvre of Kirk Cameron. (If that's not a Netflix queue, I don't know what is.) Come to think of it, let's all pray that Bettany pursues any further spiritual studies in the privacy of his own home."

Orlando Sentinel: "The acting settles into 'indifferent' as the feeble action beats are stretched so far apart that you almost forget the 'Zulu'/'Assault on Precinct 13'/'From Dusk to Dawn' template at work here. Visual effects guy turned director Scott Stewart gives 'Legion' few effects and no pace, losing himself in the personal crises of the various characters. The best jolt comes so early that the fact that no fresh jolt is attempted for the middle hour of the film makes it all the more boring. Here's' my prophecy. Stewart's next film, 'Priest,' is about a warrior priest also played by Bettany. Both of them will be disowning 'Legion' by then."

E! Online: "We've seen many variations on this before, most of them superior: 'The Prophecy,' 'Feast,' 'Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight' ... but if you've already seen those and could stand another variation, this is reasonable entertainment. Nobody in the audience really cares whether or not Lucas Black wants to be a responsible daddy to his girlfriend's illegitimate kid, so those parts are a snooze, but Tyrese's 'hood rat is hilarious, as is a Satanic granny who eats raw meat and climbs walls."

Cinematical: "Normally these mismatched ingredients would be perfectly acceptable (if not even welcome) in a B-movie. The problem with 'Legion,' however, is despite most of the cast fitting the B-movie mold, every other aspect of the movie barely scrapes by on a D+ level. A few jokes make it through the laughter barrier, but the script isn't nearly witty enough to maintain the fun-spirited free flow of profanity and shocked reactions one should expect from a film like this. The action sequences are the worst part of the production. More often than not, these are comprised of incomprehensible jumble edits of actors whose sole direction on set must have been 'Yell louder! Shoot harder! Don't worry, we'll film whatever you're shooting at later and cut 'em both together.'"
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