There Be Dragons: movie review

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

Plodding and stilted, 'There Be Dragons' tells the story of a Roman Catholic priest and his childhood friend and eventual enemy during the Spanish Civil War.

Dave Allocca/StarPix/AP
Actors Rodrigo Santoro, Olga Kurylenko and Wes Bentley arrive for a New York City screening of their film, 'There Be Dragons,' on Thursday, May 5.

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.)

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