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"The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc"

Directed by Luc Besson ("La Femme Nikita").
Written by Luc Besson and Andrew Birkin. 
Starring Milla Jovovich.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  11/23/99 


What up?  Well, in a truly Herculean effort (given that I have no life and I live three minutes from the 14-theater multiplex), I'm going to try to hit a flick every day this week.  Tonight, I had to check out a movie that Jess "Perfect Bacon" Gilmour recommended last weekend to me, saying that it was the worst movie she had ever seen.  Always one to see how bad BAD can really be, I took her up on her request and tricked Scott "Cell-out" Hodge to join me--one of the greatest third-string Division I soccer goalies the world has practice!!

Well Jess, I must admit--this movie is pretty bad.  For those of you who are SMR veterans, this review will sound a lot like the review for "The 13th Warrior", and with good reason.  Luc Besson--good lord, the director of some great movies, especially "The Professional"--directs his ex-lover, Milla Jovovich, in this 15th-century action adventure about the legendary Joan.  Jovovich was pretty good in the Besson-directed sci-fi flick "The Fifth Element", but here she is playing an absolute psychopath...and since I don't know if that's how Joan really was or not, I'll just say that Jovovich plays loud, weird, whining, religious insane female warriors very, very well.  Obviously inspired to play the legend, she fires up her French battalion with some fiery speeches and heroic derring-do.  This, plus the over-the-top, bloody action sequences, worked for me just fine.  Nothing like a couple of scenes where wolves and crows are chewing on dead human flesh!  The body count is high here, but not any different from your other "Braveheart"-wannabes these days.

The problems seemed to begin with the movie's casting.  Beyond Jovovich, John Malkovich--heretofore a fine, respected actor--plays the Dauphin of France, and he just seemed too...what's the word...*American* for me.  I don't need Malkovich to fiddle with the French accent; it's just that his word choice seemed a bit too 90's for a period piece ("I'm fed up!", for bad example).  Faye Dunaway, far removed from any of her Oscar-winning material from years past, plays the Dauphin's mother-in-law, and she is completely wasted.  Wasted!  Other fine D-list actors come and bloodily go throughout the course of the carnage, and then...Dustin Hoffman shows up!


Yes, I did.  While this isn't as bad as "Billy Bathgate" or "Sphere", it comes close to Hoffman's worst work, and because it almost seems as if he was inserted only for comedic purposes (his joyful explanation of how Joan finds her first sword was funny, even if it was totally out of place), he mostly fails horribly.  Don't get me wrong, when you've won two Oscars, you don't have much left to prove...but, have some respect for yourself, man!  Is it all about the dollar, dollar bills, y'all?

Oh, did I mention that the movie is 148 minutes long?  Since I knew that she was going to burn at the stake, I'm sitting there in the theater thinking that at any moment they're just going to light her on fire to get it over with.  But NO...they make me suffer through Hoffman and more insane moments by Jovovich for about 35 minutes after she's been captured before finally putting a flame to her pasty ass.  Why!!

That, plus an absolutely gratuitous opening murder/rape scene and way too many over-the-top flashbacks did this movie in.  "The 13th Warrior" is still the worst movie that I've seen this year, but "The Messenger" comes pretty close to taking the lead.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09