Pope John Paul II Reviews
If I have a criticism, it is the transition from Cary Elwes to Jon Voight. But you have to understand that the film is essentially divided into two halves. Elwes depicts Wojtyla's early life, includes his decision to become a priest and ends precisely when he is elected Pope. Voight picks it up right there, when the new Pope is announced to the world. I watched the three-hour DVD in one sitting, so to me it looked like Wojtyla aged spontaneously in a matter of seconds. But on CBS the film was shown on two nights: they probably showed part 1 (Elwes) on day 1 and ended exactly when he's elected Pope, and day 2 started right where the film left off, so to people having a night to reflect on the change or if they hadn't seen part 1, the shift to Voight probably didn't come as a surprise because of the buffer period. The choice for the transition, cinematically speaking, was either an artistic one or done because they knew of CBS's plan to show the film over the course of two days. Usually transitions between actors depicting one life happen over a significant time jump, of which there were many in this film: for instance, they could've easily shifted to Jon Voight in the ten year period following him being named Bishop. But again I don't know if that's really a criticism or simply personal preference, that's how I would've done it, at least. But on some level I suppose it is a criticism when you consider that the transition wasn't exactly a seamless one, in the story-telling sense. We were reminded that there were two actors instead of one character.
Overall, though, the film was one of the best I'd ever seen. It's engrossing to anyone: not just Catholics, but non-Christians and nonbelievers as well. So I'd recommend it if you're ever curious about the life of John Paul II.