I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

Damn, this week must be some type of religious holiday because every fucking movie seems to be about religion. Dogma: religion. Messenger: religion. I haven’t seen the dog movie however i have seen messenger so here is my review.

First off let me say that I am not an expert on religion although I found and accepted the lord jesus christ while i was in the can and have since turned my life around to become a Positive Writer and critic of Cinema as well as to overcome the shit out of alcoholism. I am not a catholic or anything, so I don’t know a whole lot about saints and popes and all this type of shit. I never really got into all the technical stuff beyond praying, positivity, etc.

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of ArcPoint is, I liked this messenger movie. Now I’m not saying its perfect. In fact if I were to give it a 10, it would be on a scale of 1-15 with 1 being Halloween Curse of Michael Meyers and 15 being, of course, Bruce Willis’s Die Hard. I think Messenger will be very controversial and for one reason. You see, a lot of dudes don’t like to see a pretty young gal who has an opinion, let alone a pretty young gal who has an opinion that she is a messenger from god who is going to lead an army and crown a new king and all this.

The pretty young gal of course is Joan of Arc, or Jean of Arc as she’s called in this movie if I may nitpick. Now this gal is really the heart of the picture and whether or not you enjoy the movie is based on what you think about her. Maybe this gal that plays Jean of Arc is a little too into it sometimes, but for the most part I liked the way she did it. She seems like a total loon just like the real Joan of Arc must have, whether or not she was. She is pretty and delicate but also tough and often covered in blood. Although later on she looks like Eddie whatsisdick, the kid from Terminator part 2.

What I like is that she is really crazed, her eyes bugging out, a tenuous grip on the realities of war and clinging onto her banner instead of a sword. She’s a warrior and a good leader and stategist but also kind of a prude, slapping motherfuckers for swearing the lords name in vein, panicking if the soldiers don’t get confessed every time they cut a dude’s head off. There is more jokes in this movie than you might expect.

The opening scene is the best part of the movie, with a young Jean of Arc running around skipping in the meadows yelling, “It’s wonderful! It’s wonderful!” I have been around the block a few times so personally I wasn’t too surprised when suddenly the village is set on fire, everybody gets killed and raped and eaten by wolves. This is a pretty good way to introduce the story.

Needless to say, Jean of Arc isn’t thinking its all that wonderful anymore and next thing you know shes a legendary badass with messages from god who gets to lead the army against those fucking english. You might say she’s a perky young gal, ’cause when she gets killed with an arrow, she pulls the fucker out, gets back up and goes and starts taunting the motherfuckers that did it to her. She wakes up her army and tells them to just up and storm the castle, then she’s so cocky she struts in there wearing a sweater instead of armor, and doesn’t even draw her sword until she’s in the middle of the fucking mayhem. After the deed is done she’s soaked from head to toe in other motherfuckers blood and she goes, whoah… wait a minute… this is fucked up, man.

Now at this point in the movie I’m thinking yes, God really fucked this gal over bad in my opinion. He tells her to go to war, then he tells her why the fuck you did that, lady? And the poor gal doesn’t know what to do and then they set her on fire.

For Jean of Arc, its not for sure what failed her. Maybe God failed her, setting her up as the fall guy (or martyr). Maybe organized religion failed her (my opinion) by setting her on fire for following her own idea of religion instead of some guy with a fancy hat. Or maybe the gal was schizophrenic and just happened to be really good at what she did, but her luck ran out after a while. This movie made me really wonder what the real Joan was like, and what she really did. I’m not sure what all these dudes were trying to say with the movie but it made me give it some thought as well as entertaining me for about three or four hours.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, November 14th, 1999 at 6:16 pm and is filed under Drama, Reviews, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc”

  1. My 1999 memory of this was that it was kind of a debacle, a late 90’s contender for new Medieval epic with some dark ages inquisition torture and barbaric battlefield head smooshing, the new BRAVEHEART but with a crazy woman taking on the English upon hearing the voice of ‘God’ after they kill and post-death rape her sister (she’s basically impaled twice, not a pleasant scene, and a good argument for Jean being mentally unstable after witnessing this at a young age), instead of a crazy man hunting down the English like a stalking lion after they kill his wife.

    So I was surprised at how ridiculously enjoyable this was on a recent rewatch. Sure, it’s still messy. I don’t think the movie has an opinion on what really drove Jean to be so fierce in her pursuit of battle, and as much as her religious fervor told her it was ‘God’, she seemed oblivious to anything but pushing her perceived agenda on the French army. That is, until the heads and limbs hit the fan and her beach blonde bowl-cut hair is turned crimson red from the arterial spray and she’s questioning is this really the will of God.

    But I loved the craziness of it. Jovovich delivers each line like she’s about to either cry or orgasm or start singing Ave Maria. Her first scene with Malkovich as she catches him hiding behind a row of guards in his palace is pure unintentional comedy gold – Malkovich’s eyes darting back and forth trying to look inconspicuous, and later on as she’s explaining her visions to him he just sits there speechless listening to this quivering vulnerable sexy woman pour out her soul. If there is such a thing as Pre-Sexual Atrophy, then this was it. I can’t do justice to it with words, it was a feeling, just trust me.

    Of course, she get’s sold out by the King at the end and handed over to the pompous religious fuckwits who also presume to know the will of God (who’s the crazy one now guys, really?), and my heart went out to her when she was beaten and trashed and burned by these c*nts. Overall, I was conflicted. I think Jean’s religious strong-arming worked against her. Deep and true spirituality does not require one to be a zealot. However, she did suffer greatly as a child when she witnessed evil. Brutality stupefies the wise, and destroys the strongest of hearts, so I’m leaning toward a broken mind, and a betrayal of innocence by men who should have known better.

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