The Celestine Prophecy

This talky, earnest fable may satisfy devoted fans of Redfield's book, but it's not going to make any new converts. Is it a coincidence that dedicated schoolteacher John Woodson (Matthew Settle) gets an unexpected call from old friend Charleen (Robyn Cohen), a journalist just back from Peru, with news of the discovery of ancient, history-altering scrolls...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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This talky, earnest fable may satisfy devoted fans of Redfield's book, but it's not going to make any new converts. Is it a coincidence that dedicated schoolteacher John Woodson (Matthew Settle) gets an unexpected call from old friend Charleen (Robyn Cohen), a journalist just back from Peru, with news of the discovery of ancient, history-altering scrolls on the very day he's laid off because of budget cuts? Or that having decided to fly to Lima and track down Father Sanchez (Joaquim de Almeida), the archeologist who found the mysterious artifacts in a remote ruin, he should find himself aboard the same flight as respected Professor Dobson (John Aylward), who's also en route to meet Sanchez? Or that while fleeing the secret police, who've arrested Sanchez and confiscated the scrolls, Woodson should pass beneath the window of Wil (Thomas Kretschmann), a swashbuckling and spiritually enlightened jungle guide wedded to Sanchez's cause? Clearly the answer is no: The scrolls and their message are Woodson's destiny, and with Wil he undertakes the arduous physical and spiritual trip, dodging rebel soldiers and envoys of both church and state — represented respectively by Father Sebastian (Hector Elizondo) and police officer Jensen (Jurgen Prochnow) — who want to suppress the scrolls and their divine insights. Along the way, Woodson crosses paths with other pilgrims, including Julia (Annabeth Gish), who translated the ancient texts, hotelier Miguel (Obba Babatunde), who houses seekers, and Marjorie (Sarah Wayne Callies, of TV's Prison Break), whom Woodson saw in a dream. A decade ago, James Redfield's best-selling, new-age spiritual self-help guide in thriller form was a bona fide phenomenon, a self-published novel subsequently picked up by Warner Books that went on to sell millions of copies in dozens of languages. Redfield opted to maintain control over the rights rather than make a movie deal with a major Hollywood studio, but the film he shepherded into existence as cowriter and coproducer is an awkward, amateurish echo of movies that range from the obscure LEGEND OF SIMON CONJURER (2006) to WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW? (2004) and THE DA VINCI CODE (2006). With a respectable, if not marquee-dazzling, cast, the film was directed by horror specialist Armand Mastroianni, who once upon a time directed the very young, DA VINCI CODE-star-to-be Tom Hanks in a no-budget 1980 slasher picture called HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE. Coincidence or not?

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: This talky, earnest fable may satisfy devoted fans of Redfield's book, but it's not going to make any new converts. Is it a coincidence that dedicated schoolteacher John Woodson (Matthew Settle) gets an unexpected call from old friend Charleen (Robyn Cohen… (more)

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