Here’s one of those movie gems that probably got shuffled out of theaters because a blockbuster film release needed the screens on which it was playing. I’m not sure of its distribution, but if you missed it in theaters, here’s your chance to catch a very good production on Blu-ray or DVD. The high energy action film takes you back to 1200’s Europe and features a dark time in Ireland.
Opening scene: CAPPADOCIA 55AD: A Christian gets stoned to death by a mob on a cliff side beach in remote Ireland.
The movie Jumps to 1209 AD where Christianity now dominates Europe. “On faith alone, crusades are launched to recapture Jerusalem. In Ireland, far from the Holy Land, Norman invaders that owe their loyalty to King John of England, struggle to conquer the island causing havoc for countrymen.”
On a pilgrimage for Pope Innocent III, Brother Geraldus (Stanley Weber) approaches a remote area of the Gaelic territory. There, in a small unobtrusive monastery hides a relic from 55 AD that has been known to have special powers. He approaches the monastery’s Abbott (Donncha Crowley) with an edict from the Pope requesting the relic. The Abbott hands the relic over to Brother Geraldus and commands Brothers Cliaran (John Lynch), Cathal (Hugh O’Connor), Rua (Rualdhri Conroy) and Diarmuid (Tom Holland) to accompany the brother to the relic’s final destination.
So begins a trek shrouded by treachery, savage violence, debauchery and supreme power. Director Brendan Muldowney moves his film along at a fast pace introducing his characters. Then takes them into lands under attack by waring territory owners and a malevolent land baron. It gets very exciting and fierce at times letting up only to move into another situation of even more violence.
He captures the feel of the Irish mountains, lakes, bogs and forests with visionary camerawork. His talent really lies in the sets and scenes for the story in which it gets played out, and that’s a good thing. As the danger gets imminent, his characters react to their ominous surroundings and adversaries. His choreographer does a splendid job of depicting the battles in the woods and bogs covering the actors with mud and blood.
Of course like any well directed film, the cast has to be on their mark. Lead stars Tom Holland as the young novice brother Diarmuid, Stanley Weber as the determined Cistercian monk Geraldus, and Richard Armitage as the treacherous Raymond De Merville are right on point. It’s a lot of good talent and it shows on the screen.
Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) takes on the role of the fledgling monk who will do anything to save the holy relic from getting into the wrong hands. He’s quick to help members of the pilgrimage, but not before guarding the holy piece in the face of possible harm. A very cool role that takes Holland out of his normal element and he nails it.
Most know Richard Armitage for his work in The Hobbit as Thorin Okenshield the leader and exiled king of the dwarf nation. I’m a big fan of The Hobbit series and especially his role in making it a memorable adventure. Here he does a fine job of creating Raymond De Merville who’s initially respected by the pilgrims. Then as the trip continues through the wooded mountains he starts to show his true colors. His ability to swing a sword ads realism in the war scenes showing abilities probably learned as the Dwarf King.
As the unwavering monk Geraldus, Stanley Weber does a fine job of characterizing a man who’s obsessed with the assignment he’s been given by the Pope. When he realizes that his job has become an almost impossible mission, he starts to unravel. It’s not until Diarmuid brings him back to his senses that he gets back to the task at hand.
“The Making of Pilgrimage” Director Brendan Muldowney, writer Jamie Hannigan and stars Tom Holland, Richard Armitage, and John Lynch.
“The Dance of War: The Fight Choreography of Pilgrimage”
“Building an Army: The Visual & Make-up Effects of Pilgrimage”
“Sounds of the Past: The Languages & Music of Pilgrimage”
“Setting the Scene: The Locations of Pilgrimage”
Pilgrimage has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains savage violence, gore and dismemberment. Be aware that the content gets very grisly at times. Be cautious when deciding to let immature children watch the DVD as it does have a lot of scenes that are inappropriate for youngsters.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A beautifully filmed and directed movie. (4 out of 5 stars)
Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal, Richard Armitage, Stanley Weber, Hugh O’Connor, Rualdhri Conroy, John Lynch, Donncha Crowley, Gaetan Wenders, Eric Godin as Baron De Merville. Director: Brendan Muldowney. MPAA Rating: Not rated (extreme violence, gore). Genre: Action, Adventure. Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min. Video Release Date: October 10, 2017. Original Theatrical Release Date: August 11, 2017. Language: English, Gaelic, French w/English subtitles. Reviewed Format: Blu-ray (also available as a combo pack with DVD). Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1. Video: 1080p Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 2.35:1. Subtitles: English SDH. Number of Discs: 2 Discs Blur-ray Combo Pack. Distributed by: RLJ Entertainment
The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.