Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Challenge: Druids

Within my circle of friends, this movie has a dubious reputation.  It all started a few years ago when one of my friends- a big Christopher Lambert fan- expressed his dislike of the movie.  Well, that's not entirely true.  In reality, he explained that he tried to watch it, but fell asleep.  This *allegedly* happened three times, although I have no real confirmation on that.  Even after watching some dubious Lambert movies- i.e. The Sicilian and Day of Wrath- I had yet to fall asleep during one.  Then again, I made it all the way through Blood Freak and The Gardener, so maybe I just have 'bad movie stamina.'  Apparently, I got that in lieu of normal stamina- stupid choice, stupid choice!  So, about three weeks ago, I decided to challenge myself and watch this movie.  It can't be that bad, can it?  Find out in my review of...
Druids (aka Vercingetorix)
The film begins, oddly enough, with a long monologue set to shots of the solar system.  Um guys, where are you going with this?  This turns out to be nothing but an artsy set-up to our story, which involves a clan of Gauls (Frenchmen) rebelling against the ruling Romans.  A group of them set-up a secret meeting to discuss what to do.  One of them- Vercingetorix's father- proposes that the clans unite to fight back.  This ends the way you might expect: dad gets shot full of arrows and killed.  The son is saved by a Druid (Max Von Sydow), who keeps him hidden for years.  How many years, you ask?  Well, that is a little unclear, actually.  The guy goes from being about 10 or 12 years old to looking like Christopher Lambert.  The only age progression we get for Max is a stick-on beard.  By the way, get used to those.  The young...ish man wants to get revenge for his father's death, so the Druid takes him to be trained.  An older woman trains him by way of kicking his ass using sudden, dramatic cuts.  After a montage of this, our hero runs into, of all people, Julius Caesar riding down the country's one road.  He becomes friends with him on the ride, but that ends when he gets to the next town and kills his father's accuser.  Oddly, everyone is alright with that.
Vercingetorix becomes a powerful clan leader and, along with the others, joins forces with Caesar.  Unfortunately, their new boss wants to send them to fight the Vandals, which he figures will either end in their deaths or with victory for him- a win-win.  Our heroes go along with this, until one of them randomly refuses and- when confronted- talks to our hero about who really had his father killed.  Thus, based on no evidence whatsoever, he turns against Caesar and forms an army.    After this, his armies go about burning all of the major Gaul cities in the area, using the logic that Caesar can just rest his armies there and recover.  As the men starve, the strategy falls apart when Vercingetorix loses his resolve.  Things turn bad for a while, but our hero is rallied for a comeback when the Roman slaughters the same town that did not support Lambert's character.  In their first big battle, he has a major victory thanks to the few loyal clans in Caesar's army turning against him.  So slaughter does NOT pay off.  Things turn again when Caesar hires the Germanic Teutons to aid his army.  Ultimately, our hero's army surrounds Caesar's and can starve him out.  However, the men get desperate for battle and our hero appeases them.  After this, they all die, save for our hero who surrenders to spare his people.  Send me back to space, movie.  The End.
This movie is honestly not as bad as it is made out to be.  In a lot of ways, it is a dry re-telling of the events of 60 BC, which is why it loses a lot of people.  If you stay with it, you have a decent tales that desperately wants to be known as the French equivalent of Braveheart.  When viewed that way, it is a decent movie that should not be ridiculed so much.  That said, the wigs can be distracting, especially Lambert's.  I should also mention that the title is a bit misleading, since they stop using the word 'druid' about twenty-five minutes in.  They don't really even play a big part in the story, save for setting the initial conflict up.  The action is pretty solid, although it is missing in some key points during the latter half.  The whole thing is actually not bad- check it out if you like the historical slaughter stuff.
So, was that worth the wait?
Next up, an 80s classic of 'Gremlins-ploitation' (I'm calling this one!) gets reviewed.  On top of that, I get to complete the series.  Stay tuned...

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