The Celestine Prophecy

Fans of the New Age-y conclusions in James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy will love the movie adaptation, which takes the central Nine Insights and wraps them into a story.  Everybody else will laugh at how simplistic these Insights are, and gag at how this movie adaptation couples the philosophy with a hokey story, bad acting, and a preachy script.  After watching The Celestine Prophecy, it's hard to believe that why this become such a phenomenal bestseller.  This is very much along the lines of Left Behind - there are sequels, and they will probably go direct to video.

The main purpose of the plot is to present the basic tenets of the book without sounding preachy.  Unfortunately, Redfield's basic story structure, adapted by himself, Barnet Bain (Jesus), and Dan Gordon (The Hurricane, The Assignment) plays out like a bad adventure movie.  The central character, John Woodson (Matthew Settle, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The In Crowd) finds enlightenment and mystery in Peru as he gets drawn into one of the more boring adventures in recent history.  He goes to Peru after hearing about some ancient manuscripts discovered in some ruins.  These manuscripts contain Nine Enlightenments that are changing the way that people look at the world  Woodson, who is undergoing a slight crisis of faith, wants to see if these texts can help him.

Once in Peru, he finds himself attracted to the lovely Marjorie (Sarah Wayne Callies), trekking through the woods with Wil (Thomas Kretschmann, King Kong, Head in the Clouds), and taking lessons on the Insights from Julia (Annabeth Gish, Buying the Cow, Race to Space) and Father Sanchez (Joaquim de Almeida, Os Imortais, Behind Enemy Lines).  Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and others try to destroy these prophecies.  It's never clear why, because it's not like these Insights are very inflammatory.  They basically say that there is an energy that exists between people, and if people focus and pray and give energy to each other, it will cause humanity to go to the next step in evolution.

It sounds like it could be exciting, but director Armand Mastrioianni (Distortions) seems to do everything he can to ruin the film.  First, Settle is not great at projection emotion. He stumbles his way through his lines, appearing stiff and wooden.  The story moves along slowly, hobbled by long amounts of muddled exposition.  There is an easy way to explain the insights, but Mastrioianni chooses to make everything unnecessarily confusing.  Epiphanies come at random points, and the Insights are clear only at the end, when they each flash across the screen before the credits.  Far from being deep, The Celestine Prophecy comes across as shallow, and worse, simple-minded.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some violence.

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