Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Celestine Prophecy (2006)

Directed by Armand Mastroianni

The Celestine Prophecy is a spiritual quest movie about a man seeking to learn about some mysterious prophecies that are unearthed in Peru. The prophecies are about an expansion of human consciousness predicted to occur near the end of the 20th Century.

The movie curiously mixes in a sub-plot involving bad guys who menace/chase/attack/imprison the people who are hunting the prophecy and attempting to understand its meaning. It’s based on the book The Celestine Prophecy.

There are some very beautiful parts of the movie—we see gorgeous shots of mountainsides and trees and old ruins. Peru is a country I’d like to visit some day, just based on this movie. There are parts of the quest that are also interesting, while others seem more in the vein of telling rather than showing (seldom a winning formula).

The closest movie The Celestine Prophecy can be compared to is The Da Vinci Code. Again, people search for hidden knowledge while being chased by mysterious opponents. The difference is that Tom Hanks is one of America’s best actors, and they didn’t have Tom Hanks for this movie. The star of the movie didn’t ensnare me into the movie’s world, and I found myself uninvolved in what happened in the plot. They’re chased, they’re captured, they get away, they understand another piece of the prophecy. Next? This is not a bad movie—it has interesting scenes, and some fascinating ideas as well. It just isn’t a great movie.

Great movies possess a unity and magic that encourages us to relax our doubts and overlook their imperfections. Less than great movies, like this one, leave us scratching our heads. Why didn’t it live up to its full potential? Did the director have the wrong touch? Did the screenwriter(s) mess up? Did the actors fail in their performances? This reminds me of the old expression about families; happy ones are all alike, while unhappy families are all unhappy in different ways.

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