The Mothman Prophecies

The Mothman Prophecies is stated
to be based on true events

The Mothman Prophecies is stated to be based on true events. This would lead credence to the saying ‘Truth is more Boring than Fiction’. Somehow I am a bit old fashion and feel that a thriller should, oh, I don’t know, have some thrills in it.

The Mothman Prophecies plods along with a few distractions but fails to deliver the edge of your seat entertainment. John Klein (Richard Gere) is a successful reporter for the famed Washington Post. He is about to buy a house with his beautiful wife Mary (Debra Messing) when on the way home something flies at the car, it crashes and she is critically injured. While in the hospital, Mary creates some strange drawings of a winged, moth like man. Of course, she dies shortly afterwards. Flash-forward to a couple of years later when John attempts to drives out of town for an interview. Without explanation he winds up in Point Pleasant, W.Va, a distance impossible for him to have covered. His car and cell phone both quit on him and he seeks help in a nearby house. Once there the owner, Gordon (Will Patton) holds John at gunpoint and claims that John has been harassing him for the last three days. The police is called and Sergeant Connie Parker (Laura Linney) is called to investigate. As it turns out the townsfolk have been reporting mysterious sightings and events over the last few months. Gordon continues to have ‘bad feelings’ and is visited by the Mothman. A prediction made by this creature comes true with dire consequences, a crash that kills a lot of people. Of course, John, being the investigative report that he is, looks into the events with the help of Connie the cop. The eerie voice is supposed to be that of a long dead native American who gives a cosmic heads up on up coming disasters.

There is a scene that was shown on most of the entertainment shows of the culminating scene, the special effects spectacular of the local bridge falling down. The trouble here is The Mothman Prophecies is centered on this scene and it comes without the proper build up. The story does not afford the audience the opportunity of really caring about the characters. There are so many unanswered questions, why does Connie seem to fall for John so rapidly, who was the native American and why does he care about giving the warnings? While many may dismiss these questions as ‘life doesn’t always give us answers’, in this case the audience is left with an empty feeling at the end of The Mothman Prophecies.

The cast of The Mothman Prophecies shows that even the best actors have bills to pay and have to keep working to survive. Gere is a bit past his prime as a leading man. There is not the boxoffice draw that he once enjoyed. He was not convincing as John, he just didn’t sell it as a person that is as driven as a report ought to be. The Mothman Prophecies also suffered from his comments made in NYC after the World Trade Center tragedy that alienated him from a lot of the viewing public. Since The Mothman Prophecies was released at that time it was a cosmic case of classic bad timing. Messing, a well know actor from TV, lends a bit of familiarity to her all too brief role here as Mary. Again the character is hindered by a lack of development. Linney does an admirable job as the police officer and gives her typical professionalism to the role. The real one to watch here is Patton. As often happens it is the ancillary character actor that steals the show. The growing paranoia and disorientation he gives to Gordon is the best acting in The Mothman Prophecies. He is the one character that the audience can feel anything for. Gordon is the one character that adds a bit of momentum to the film. In all the cast did there best amd worked well with the director but just couldn’t hold things together.

Mark Pellington took the helm for The Mothman Prophecies. The only thing worthwhile here is the direction. He paced The Mothman Prophecies as best he could considering the script but it falls short of his best work to date, Arlington Road. Pellington has a command of the camera not often seen today. The lighting and angles used are imaginative and inventive. The use of the surround sound also breaths some life into this work. The only way I was able to get through The Mothman Prophecies was because of his direction. He richly deserves a better script to showcase his talents. There are elements here of a classic gothic film. The misty sets, the shifting shadows and weird sounds add to an overall atmosphere that in an other film would have been an event. For another look at his style of direction check out the music video in the extras section. Here was a lot to his style that reminded me of David Fichner’s Fight Club. A lot of fast, almost subliminal shots inter cut in The Mothman Prophecies that creates an uneasy feeling in the audience, perfect for what the story calls for. I for one look forward with great anticipation he next film.

It seems to be a growing trend that the DVD is better than the film. This is the case here. The disc is rather good. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sounds enfold the room. The rear speakers are fully used for the effects and blends nicely with the booming sub woofer. In fact, the sub woofer often overpowers the front speakers resulting in you missing some of the dialogue. Don’t worry, no big loss. Considering how dark many of the scenes are the anamorphic 2.35:1 video is amazingly clear and free of defect. The color balance is better than many films today seem to have. There is a music video and a few trailers but little else in the way of extras. In all The Mothman Prophecies has merit for those following the career of the director but is otherwise not really up to what the hype would have had you believe.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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