Dragons may not be perfect, but it plays to the helmer's strengths, demonstrating an increasingly rare sense of scope and pageantry best served by the bigscreen.
Florid, convoluted historical drama.
Because his character is never clear, Manolo's choices lack emotional interest and narrative urgency.
The Hollywood Reporter
British writer-director Roland Joffé dips a toe into explosive material - the Spanish Civil War, betrayal, sainthood, Opus Dei - but all these big themes and characters slip from his grasp.
Controversially, Escrivá started the Opus Dei, and There Be Dragons is best appreciated by those seeking more realism than the albino self-whipper of "The Da Vinci Code."
Its appeal for the rest of us is buoyed by cinematographer Gabriel Beristain's attentiveness to the ravishing Argentinian locations, but the geriatric pacing, flat-footed Old Hollywood pastiche, and Joffé's inexplicable penchant for tear-jerking Catholic mysticism make Dragons more punishing than a hundred Hail Marys.
In fairness, putting holiness onscreen is an enormous challenge. It can be done, as several directors have shown, most notably Dreyer and Bresson. Bad enough that Joffe is the poor man's Lean. He's also the nonbelieving man's Dreyer and Bresson.
There's an interesting story here, but Joffe never firmly wraps his arms around it.
The resulting mix of hagiography and war epic is so muddled that characters keep addressing each other by their first names, the better to tell them apart.
From its baldly overwritten dialogue to its claustrophobically stingy use of locations, Dragons is underdone in every way.