Monday, August 28, 2017

A Priest's Tale

Did you like A Knight's Tale? Like, did you LOVE A Knight's Tale and think, in your wildest fantasies, that most of the cast and crew should reassemble for another movie, only this time, it should be a super serious Catholic-themed thriller with terrible CGI?

Boy is it your lucky day!

Quick Plot: Alex (William Thatcher, I mean, Heath Ledger) is a sad priest, possibly because he's forced to be celibate but is also Heath Ledger and therefore one of the most handsome men in the world who should be able to have sex with anyone in the world. When Father Dominic, his mentor, commits suicide, Alex is sent to Rome as one of the last of the Carolingians, an order (or, excuse me, THE Order) specializing in demons and the supernatural. 

Alex is joined by his fellow Carolingian/squire, Thomas (a pre-Robert Baratheon Mark Addy) and Mara (Shannyn Sossamon), a woman Alex once successfully performed an exorcism on. Mara has spent the last few years recovering in a mental asylum, but that's done nothing to dampen her good looks or artistic ability. Also involved in Alex's case is a cardinal named Driscoll, who just so happens to be next in line to be pope.

So what exactly is a ridiculously handsome and moody priest looking for? Why, a SIN EATER, of course.

Yes, I said "sin eater," and you should get used to it because a LOT of people in this movie say "sin eater" and it never quite sounds right, no matter how seriously they say the words "sin eater."

A sin eater (not gonna stop) is a man/demon who can relieve someone on their deathbed of their evils (or, you know, EAT THEIR SINS), thereby granting a non-worthy heretic a bypass into heaven. Because of his handiness with the supernatural and presumed ridiculous good looks, Ledger's Alex essentially becomes headhunted to take over the position (that of sin eater). 

Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (yes, the guy who did A Knight's Tale), The Order is a movie in desperate need of a sense of humor. Casting one of Hollywood's leading heartthrobs only to saddle him with a priest's collar and moodiness that makes Jon Snow look like a party boy isn't the best place to start, and the "are they serious about this?" levels of CGI incompetence doesn't help. 

Things do admittedly perk up int he film's final act, with the introduction of an underground zany devil's playground and unleashed Peter Weller. It's unfortunately too little, too late to make The Order any kind of real fun, but it does justify having the film on in the background while you fold laundry or eat cheese or stream A Knight's Tale on another device. 

High Points
It's completely unreasonable, but I'm giving this movie 9000 bonus points for casting John Karlsen in the role of "Eden's Manservant". Karlsen, you see, plays the king in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure but more excitingly, plays Blossum, the manservant to Phinneas T. Prune in the best/worst Christmas movie ever made (and now featured, finally, on Mystery Science Theater 3000), The Christmas That Almost Wasn't. 

Low Points
I forgive the octopi-like CGI because it at least adds some laughs to the otherwise extremely blah pace, so my low point? the otherwise blah pace

But I mean, that CGI...

Lessons Learned
Being in a mental asylum should never hold your eyebrow grooming back

Only doctors can identify if something is a birthmark

Never drink wine with Caravaggio

I watched The Order via HBO Go, but it really feels like the kind of flick best viewed with commercials on TNT. It's not good, but I guess it's somewhat different from what you might expect of the time. And you know, if A Knight's Tale is your jam, I would guess this was made to be your peanut butter, only without a Queen soundtrack holding it all together. 

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