Who are you to even think that you can know the difference between good and evil?
A review by Mike Shea Movie Rating: ( * * · · · ) DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )
I wasn't sure what to expect from this one. I had heard everything from it being the next Braveheart, to being the next male beating since Jane Campion's Portrait of a Lady. The movie starts off pretty strong, although the little girl Joan over acts quite a bit for my tastes. Instead of some fuzzy logic about religious beliefs, we are forced right into the visions of God that Joan has. This gives the movie a refreshing fantasy like feel instead of just a simple period piece. The visions are powerful and show us what would drive a 19 year old girl into war. Then all of a sudden it turns into braveheart. Once again the English are all gnarled tooth rapists, but this time they even go into the use of necrophelia for character development. Once again our hero is orphaned at an early age only to come back and take the farmers into war. Once again we get a set of nice stereotypical supporting characters including the big gruff dude and the funny-guy who talks about how lovely his tribuche is. There are quite a few big battle scenes that seem to have lost a little of the fire that Braveheart had. There doesn't seem to be that much blood, but when it comes, it comes on hard. There is one quality kill in particular that had me reaching for the still frame on my remote it was so bad. The lead actress, Milla Jovovich, gets a bit too dramatic in this role. We don't get a lot of just normal hard ass character directions, we get a lot of hemming and hawing and whining about the horrors of war. She seems to do nothing but cry except when she gets shot full of arrows. The sets and costumes in this movie are excellent except for the fact that all the French warriors look like they came right out of hell while the stupid english consist mainly of guys looking like Carrot Top dressed in a reject renaissance fair costume. Some good attention to the siege weapons was made, but most end up looking like crazy carnival rides that tear people's heads off or fill them full of arrows. The last 45 minutes consist of a trial of Joan that goes on forever. Instead of the quick death of Gibson in Braveheart, we get a whole mockery of a trial around Joan and a personally trial between her and God who is played by a very powerful Dustin Hoffman. Unfortunately this goes on forever and ends with a rip off soundtrack taken from Excalibur. Like many bad movies, there was one particular scene that really stepped way above the rest. Scenes such as the "Night Ride Across The Caucasus" scene in Soldier and the music box scene in Batman Forever take a moment in a crappy movie and bring it up to a new level. This vision takes place during the capture of Joan (track 21, 1:57:40). She is falling off of her horse all grimy and gritty with short dark hair and then appears falling into a field in the same armor only all shiny with clean skin and blonde hair. It is a great transition and really captures the vision/reality broken barrier in the heroine. But like all of these examples it doesn't save the movie. The DVD's 16x9 enhanced 2.35 to 1 picture was very sharp and clear. The sound did a good job without really calling too much attention to itself. There is a featurette but no commentary. This movie tried to bring back the same audiences that loved Braveheart. Once again it tries to satisfy the women in the audience with the strength and compassion of our heroine while giving enough blood and guts and big dudes in armor to satisfy the men. In my mind it didn't cut it. Go check out Braveheart or Excalibur instead.