February 13, 2011

The Order

What happens when the cast and crew of A Knight’s Tale dump their sense of fun, and attempt to make a meaningful horror flick concerning religion? Without the assistance of a Queen soundtrack?

God help those who view the final product.

Plot Summary

What the DVD Cover Promises: “For centuries, a secret Order of priests has existed within the Church. A renegade priest, Father Alex Bernier (Heath Ledger), is sent to Rome to investigate the mysterious death of one of the Order’s most revered members. Following a series of strangely similar killings, Bernier launches an investigation that forces him to confront unimaginable evil and the terrifying knowledge that there is a fate worse than death.”

The Reality:
“For centuries, a secret Order of priests has existed within the Church, but that doesn’t matter. The brooding Father Bernier goes to Rome after the obviously evil Cardinal Driscoll (Peter Weller—hereafter referred to as “Cardinal Robocop” in this review) asks Alex to investigate his mentor’s death. Some awful thing is about to happen in the Catholic Church, but the only thing that truly matters is whether Alex should sleep with his girlfriend, Mara (Shannyn Sossamon). A mysterious figure called the Sin Eater (Benno Furmann) finally convinces Alex to f*** Mara. Cardinal Robocop does not pull out any cool weaponry and dies a lame death. The promised battle with the evil, corrupt Catholic Church never materializes. In the end, viewers learn that Sin Eating actually looks like a pretty neat profession, despite the script’s paltry attempts to convince them that it’s a ‘fate worse than death.’”

(Well, I THINK that’s what the movie meant by ‘fate worse than death.’ It wasn’t entirely clear.)

Nutrition Facts

Vitamin B-Acting: 40%

Acting is the least of this movie’s problems—the script bears 90% of the responsibility for this movie’s B-ness. That said, the movie features three of the principals from A Knight’s Tale—Ledger, Sossamon, and Mark Addy. All three essentially play the same characters they did in A Knight’s Tale, except on depressants.

Reminiscing about Merry Olde England

Ledger is the hero trying to find his place in the world, Sossamon plays the hot romantic interest, and Addy plays the practical-minded sidekick. Onscreen, they look as if director Brian Helgeland told them, “This is a DEAD SERIOUS flick. This is MEANINGFUL shit we’re dealing with, man.” I would have laughed silly at the actors’ seriousness if I hadn’t been so bored with the “Should I sleep with my GF or not?” subplot.

Vitamin B-SFX: 20%

The special effects are decent in this movie. Fascinating, I never knew that sins took the form of evil jellyfish...

Vitamin Fun: 30%

At least 45 minutes of the movie went to the “Will they **** or not” subplot, thus squeezing out anything that might have been truly exciting, such as a midair shoot-out with Cardinal Robocop inside St. Peter’s.

"I told Helgeland we needed guns, but does he listen? No."

This is the sort of broody, unscary “horror” movie that TV stations show at 4 am when they need to fill up their schedules.

Sugar: 10%

I sure didn’t care about Alex’s spiritual struggle with his girlfriend, or his path to becoming a Sin Eater.

Plot Fiber: 20%

The script insists that a lot of things matter, but they don’t really. For instance, in the beginning we’re set up to expect a big battle with the Catholic Church. However, Alex’s struggles are largely personal, and don’t affect the Church. Even Cardinal Robocop’s fate seems to have no effect on the Church. The Sin Eater’s very presence is supposed to be terrible for the Church, but once again, it does not matter.

Speaking of the Sin Eater, I mentioned earlier the script’s assertion that to be a Sin Eater is worse than death. Let me explain why this is not so, according to what I saw in the film:

1) Sin Eaters are filthy rich and can do anything they want.

2) Sin Eaters are not immortal, but do not age and can quit when they want to.

3) Absorbing the sins doesn’t really do anything to the Sin Eater.

When performing the ceremony, the sin jellyfish enters the Sin Eater and gets absorbed into the S.E.’s body.

No comment...

Benno Furmann tells the audience that this process entails taking on all the awful burdens of the sin(s), but so far as I can see, absorbing a sin jellyfish gives you fantastic skin and turns you into a sharp dresser. If I could figure out how to bottle sin jellyfish, I’d become a millionaire overnight. (Hey, maybe that explains the Sin Eater’s wealth…)

"Those jellyfish are better than Botox. 500 years old and not a single line." 

Pseudoscience Pill: N/A

Political Pill: N/A

Yes, the movie does bash the Catholic Church. But it does so in such a generic, limp fashion that I’d feel ridiculous for attaching any true political significance to this idiotic movie.