Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (41)
| Top Critics (17)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (36)
| DVD (1)
Joffe, working from his own script, presents the men's lives as evidence of difficult choices, but this pedantic movie is never fully invested in any of them.
Few films about the Spanish Civil War have been any good -- Pan's Labyrinth being the big exception.
Joffé is out of depth when it comes to Escrivá's religious experiences. It's clear he wants the film to show how faith works within us, but he does it by resorting to the most hackneyed imagery.
Clunk, clunk, squish. That is the sound of the dead language in Roland Joffé's screenplay for "There Be Dragons" as it tramples his would-be epic of the Spanish Civil War into an indigestible pulp.
I like grandeur and richly nuanced storytelling. I also like lobster bisque. But I don't want to drink a gallon of it in a single sitting.
Even actor's actor Derek Jacobi, as a Jewish factory owner, is wasted in this international muddle of a movie.
There's a great film to be made about Josemaria Escriva, the founder of the controversial Opus Dei. There are more great films to be made about the complicated Spanish Civil War. This movie, however, is neither.
It's unfortunate director Roland Joffé fails to capture real emotion and passion within the religious narrative. Without that perspective, there's no way he can breathe any life into the biopic, much less fire.
The cinematography is gorgeous, the art direction excellent, and the historical sequences, including the battle scenes, seem quite authentic. The visual parallel narrative structure, the subtleness of the religious imagery, works well.
Unsatisfying, lacking the epic feel it was aiming for, and paid-for image-burnishing for the controversial founder of Opus Dei.
Yes, the film looks beautiful. But unfortunately is stumbles over itself too often to fully realize greatness.
Despite its high-mindedness, an almost complete misfire...a lopsided film as well as a turgid, boring one.
In 1982, Roberto Torres(Dougray Scott) returns to his native Madrid to research a book about Josemaria Escriva(Charlie Cox). Luckily for Roberto, his father Manolo(Wes Bentley) still lives in the city. Unluckily for Roberto, they have not spoken in eight years. Regardless, Manolo sends him whatever relevant material he has, as he and Roberto were friends when they were growing up, even studying in the same seminary at one point.
Once upon a time, writer-director Roland Joffe had a flair for historical epics when he made sweeping and excellent timeless films such as "The Mission" and "The Killing Fields." Sadly, that was a long time ago and with the exception of neat cinematography(credit to Gabriel Beristain), especially with Manolo coming into focus in a mirror, there is not much to like in "There Be Dragons," as it serves mostly as just a banal distortion of history. For example, in reality, the Catholic Church was on the side of the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, so at least they were not totally persecuted as shown here.(For the record, if somebody is too good to be true, they most likely are.) That's not to mention a dueling lumbering narrative that does little to advance the movie's central themes of forgiveness. Remember, some times you do have to take a side.
This movie had great potential, but I think that it must have suffered from poor editing. Visually speaking, it was very good...but, that wasn't enough to help the storyline endearing.
A great visual style, as you would expect from Roland Joffeâ(TM), but it ultimately lacks the narrative power of his better works, notably The Killing Fields. The production values and overall world building of civil war torn Spain was excellent, but the more modern storyline, to which the film often flashbacks to, was less convincing (especially the â~agedâ(TM) Wes Bentley), and often undermined the more compelling earlier story. I also felt the themes were a bit heavy handed, a symptom of an unpolished script, one that also features some stilted dialogue. Olga Kurlenko, for her part, was amazing, and was certainly the most compelling character of this historical epic. At the end, you have a lot of great set pieces and some good story elements, making it watchable, but certainly not without some problems.
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