Few films about the Spanish Civil War have been any good – “Pan’s Labyrinth” being the big exception. (I’ve often wondered why nobody has ever made a movie drawn from George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia”?)
Roland Joffé’s “There Be Dragons” is a stiff-jointed slog featuring the dual-track story of real-life Roman Catholic saint Josemaría Escrivá (Charlie Cox), the founder of Opus Dei, and Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley), a fictional character who is portrayed as Josemaría’s childhood friend and eventual enemy and spiritual antithesis.
The flashback sequences sometimes come across like “ ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ for Dummies.” The modern-day scenes, featuring Manolo’s estranged son Robert (Dougray Scott), who is visiting Spain to research a book about Josemaría, lack even the kitsch of the war sequences, which boast a beautiful Hungarian revolutionary (Olga Kurylenko) whose flaring nostrils are a testament to her passion for the poor. Grade: C- (Rated PG-13 for violence and combat sequences, some language, and thematic elements.)