“Pilgrimage” Is A Decent Sword-And-Sandle Adventure



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Posted August 14, 2017 by

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I have a soft spot in my heart, for the sword-and-sandle epic. The emotional struggle of the hero, the sprawling landscapes and battlefields, and the brutality of ancient hand-to-hand combat have all yielded some classic films, that are in the upper echelon of the greatest movies of all time. Sadly, in this age of comic book movies and Hollywood’s obsession with prequels, sequels, and re-reboots, The historic epic is a dying breed.

My expectations, going in to “Pilgrimage”, were medium at best. Yes, it was in the epic adventure genre I was in the mood for, but noticing the cast’s lack of star power and the run time (96 minutes) I figured I shouldn’t go in expecting it to be Braveheart or even Centurion. I was right, but director Brendan Muldowney did succeed in making a film that was decent and better than I expected.

The movie begins in 55A.D.. In a barren desert, a group of men stone a christian man to death. A large storm suddenly appears, just before they deal the final blow. Then we are taken to the Irish coast, nearly 1200 years later.

In a small, ocean side village, a group of monks guard an ancient, religious relic that is said to contain great power. A rider in white (Brother Geraldus  played by Stanley Weber) appears, on a mission from Rome, saying that the relic must be taken to the Pope. This is sacrilege, according to some of them, but the Pope’s decree is unbreakable law. The monks reluctantly give over the relic, but insist on sending some of their own to help protect it, including a brooding mute (Jon Bernthal) and the youngest of their group Brother Diarmuid (Tom Holland). The men contend with an unforgiving wilderness, various attacks from foreigners and natives alike, and questioning their own faith, on their perilous journey.

Along the way, there are some brutal battles, and just enough character development to keep us interested in the fates of young Diarmuid and his companions. The problem is that the filmmakers don’t have enough time to tell us the whole story. We are given very little backstory on any of the players. Likewise, we are only given a few short minutes of dialogue to explain what is at stake. Holland, Bernthal, and Weber all perform their hearts out, but their characters are not fully developed.

That is not to say “Pilgrimage” is a bad movie. It’s not. It is just one of those frustrating films, that you know could’ve been great and doesn’t get there. There are things to enjoy here… just temper your expectations.




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