This is sword-and-sorcery film named after a Donovan song that features a joke swiped from “Jaws” — a priest looks balefully up at a looming demon and actually says, “We’re going to need more holy water.” It is a hopeless mish-mash that feels like they were making it up as they went along. It’s also dull.
Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman play Crusades-era knights and best bros named Behman and Felson who like to engage in jocular banter as they mow down infidels. When the commanding priest sends them to kill unarmed civilians, telling them they are not allowed to question him because he speaks for God, they go AWOL. They come to a town afflicted by the black plague. The Cardinal (a pustulous Christopher Lee) orders them to deliver the witch they believe responsible for the pestilence to a distant abbey, where there is a book with the necessary incantation to defeat her powers.
And so, there is a journey, hauling the accused witch in an iron cage, guided by a swindler who says he knows the way and accompanied by a priest and an alter boy who wants to be a knight. They encounter a rickety bridge, demon wolves, and some beautiful Hungarian scenery while the girl in the cage (Claire Foy) runs mind games on them and we check our watches to see how much more before it’s all over.
The production design by Uli Hanisch and the cinematography by Amir M. Mokri are stunning. Sadly, the vapidity of the script overcomes their atmospheric effect.
Parents should know that this movie has many disturbing and grisly images including dead bodies (some of which shudder and twitch) and victims of the plague with oozing sores, demonic wolves, and a devil figure. There are battle scenes and sword fights, and characters are injured and killed. Characters drink alcohol and there is a brief sexual reference and non-explicit, non-sexual nudity.<P><P>Family discussion: When in this film do the characters require proof and when do they rely on faith? <P><P>If you like this, try: “Ladyhawke” and “Dragonslayer”