Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films
There comes a certain point in a movie when there is just too much drama. We can’t pinpoint the amount in time or acting, but we know it when we see it.
“There Be Dragons,” the new film by two-time Academy Award-nominated director Roland Joffe, reaches that point, and surpasses it.
The movie tells a long and winding tale of two men’s lives taking two very different paths in Spain during the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s.
One of those men is Josemaria Escriva (Charlie Cox), a real-life Catholic saint, and the founder of the controversial Opus Dei religious movement.
We are introduced to the story through modern-day, London-based journalist Robert Torres (Dougray Scott), who visits his dying father in Spain to research Escriva’s life for a book.
His father, Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley), grew up with Escriva and both were on the same path to become priests, until Manolo splits off.
Manolo narrates the story of the bitter war between fascist rebels, backed by Germany and Italy, and Soviet-backed communists defending the former republic.
Manolo becomes a fascist spy, while Escriva spends most of the movie avoiding the anti-clerical communists, who were executing the clergy.
With a running time of 122 minutes, “There Be Dragons” seems to constantly drag on after a slow start.
There are moments of greatness, but they are too few to keep the film moving and are scattered between long bouts of cluttered story telling.
The narration by Manolo in the beginning of the tale is awkward and at times confusing.
Although much of the content is emotional and genuinely interesting, the story is clouded by irrelevant information.
There are strong individual performances given, namely Cox’s portrayal of Escriva, but the cast as a whole lacks chemistry and provides an abundance of awkward scenes.
“There Be Dragons” would benefit greatly from a trimming of the fat, shortening its length and eliminating many of its unnecessary pieces that attempt to reach too far for the audience’s emotions.
In the end, the film has its share of moments that almost make it worth the two hours of viewing time, but not quite. It simply tries to cover too much ground.
“There Be Dragons” opens today and will be showing at Regal Georgesville Square 16, located 1800 Georgesville Square Drive.