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Watchable "Medieval fantasy"
on 5 March 2015
I gave this a viewing on Netflix recently the film has had fairly dire reviews from the press, but isn't nearly as bad as I feared but it doesn't break new ground in a lot of areas either; managing to come out of it as a respectable way to kill 95 minutes of time in the evening.
Cage stars as Behmen von Bleibruck a knight on the crusades joined by his sidekick knight friend Felson (Ron Perlman). Disillusioned by some of the barbaric acts during the battles (where civilians are killed) the men desert and decide to go it alone. The Black Death has struck causing panic and many questioning the church, the two men are captured and given the chance to "redeem themselves" by the Cardinal if they bring a "Witch" (Claire Foy) to a monastery in a remote region, the witch is suspected of causing the plague.
Not the most original story ever but sets the pace for the journey and adventure along the way. Some critics have remarked the film is "unintentionally funny" and in a few places despite a serious looking Cage it does almost slip into a "National Treasure" spoof just a few places that is. Cage and Perlman work quite well in the roles this is the sort of film that suits Cage and Ron provides the gritty look that fits in with the era. A few problems for me, whilst the directing is quite competent and the backdrops/scenes looked quite good to me there were a couple of "rather obvious" moments that most directors would cringe at including. Firstly the scene where they are crossing the bridge and the close up shot of the rope starting to snap would count as one (this one is so old it's a little embarrassing to see it again even if it does add a bit of drama) Another scene showing Cage deflecting crossbows being fired at him also stretched reality a little more than I'd like to see.
Perhaps the weakest element of the film is the lack of ambition from the story it moves along at a suitable pace though lags a little in the middle. Fortunately the last 20 minutes do ramp up the action quite nicely and I think it boosts the film overall. It would be quite hard to say this is a "great movie" though worth a watch, not really suited to younger viewers some scenes are a bit graphic/violent. Not a complete turkey and probably not deserving of the 10% rating on rotten tomatoes, but I'm not sure the DVD is going to be worn out with massive numbers of repeat viewings either.