Saturday, February 09, 2008
THE FINAL INQUIRY
Written by Fumo Verde
A quick summary of this Spaghetti Resurrection: Jesus dies, the day turns to night, and the Earth rumbles for the Son of God is dead. This disturbs the Roman Emperor and he sends one of his most loyal generals to find out if Jesus of Nazareth had anything to do with it. In doing this the general finds “the Way” as he sends reports back to the Emperor, and if it wasn’t for the Emperor’s power-hungry nephew Claudius, the world would have been different.
Wow, even the Christies will have a problem with this one. This story is harder to swallow than the Bible itself, but not by much. The claim to fame of this movie isn’t Jesus, but Dolph Lundgren. He may have had top billing, but this guy had twenty lines if that, and they were all kept to six-word sentences. Daniele Liotti plays General Tito Valerio Tauro, of which Lundgren is his captured Barbarian fighting slave Brixos (he is versatile) with Monica Cruz as Tabitha and Hristo Shopov as Pilate. About the acting, let me put it this way, at first I blamed it on the weed I was smoking. Then I watched this thing sober and it got worse. Max Von Sydow who plays Emperor Tiberius Augustus Caesar seemed like he phoned it in. It had that “bad dub” feel to it though it wasn’t, but maybe it should have been. Even Milli Vanilli wouldn’t have danced to the words put down in this script.
We begin with some tricky camera work going over mountains, probably someone holding a camera out the window of a fast moving Yugo or Rav4. In an instant, we are focused on Jesus. It must have been at the exact moment of death but we aren’t watching long enough to find out, I guess director Giulio Base thought Gibson took all the fun out of that. As Jesus dies, the earth quakes and the sky darkens, suddenly the camera jets over the water to the island of Capri where Emperor Tiberius is shaken from his nap, and this is the whole reason for this movie. At the same time, a young woman in Palestine searches for her mother asking why the day has turned to night as her mud and wood house rumbles under what I consider plate tectonics.
While all this is going on, a Roman General Tito on the Empire’s northern frontier also feels the shaking of the world along with his legion, the 7th Gemini. Don’t even get me started on the topic of Roman Legions and where they were based or for historical accuracy, but then again the target audience doesn’t care about details like that anyway. As the Romans dismount the Barbarian force descends upon them in this heavily wooded forest and a battle ensues. Enter Lundgren and his heathen kin. There is this one moment in the film that tripped me out and I actually had to replay it a few times to make sure I got it. With the earthquake and the sunlight being blackened out, every character so far in this film considered that to be a “bad sign” except Lundgren’s Barbarians; they thought it a good time to fight, and normally the Barbarians would have had the advantage on the Romans in a thick forest, but not this time. Now this is what I liked the best in this scene; as the Romans torch their enemies’ temple where the High Priestess sat, Lundgren exclaims to his adversary, “Your Gods will someday die too.” Oooh, foreshadowing. Did we really have to waste Lundgren’s breath here?
After defeating the barbaric horde and taking Brixos as his slave, Tito is charged by the Emperor to make an inquiry about Jesus and find out all that he can about the man. So Tito goes off to Palestine with Brixos in-tow. They are sent there undercover because the old Roman Caesar is curious about this man and wants some inside info and he can’t trust Pilate. Okay, to the Romans, the death of Jesus was like the thousands of other criminals the Empire put to death each day. Tito meets up with another undercover agent Caesar had planted to keep an eye on Pilate, and why this kat couldn’t get the skinny on Jesus and report it back with his other reports doesn’t come up for debate. The agent gets shanked just before Tito can ask him what he knows; all he says is go to Judas’ house.
Once there, Tito and Brixos find out that Judas is dead and that all his friends would kill him if it weren’t for what he did to Jesus. The new owner of Judas’ shack tells Tito to go into the city and there you may find some of Jesus’ followers. This is where Tito meets Tabitha who has just come back from a fresh stoning. Unfortunately the person who got stoned was her mother and the leader of the stone throwers was her father, but he backed out at the last minute because he had no balls. Don’t worry, Pops, that’s why crowds gather. Tabitha cannot talk to Tito in the streets or else by law she’ll be stoned (the good ol’ days), but she still conveys that she knows something he may want to know of which the audience already knows. Wait, this is sounding like a Rumsfeld press conference.
To make things short, Tito finds out all he wants to know before going to Pilate’s house for dinner; how I don’t know. He never asked any questions about the death of Jesus, let alone the life of, or why anyone is following him. He even watches an older brother get the beaten by Saul, and when Tito asks the fleeing younger brother, “Why won’t you defend your brother?” the answer gives no clues to Tito, but somehow he knows that Jesus was resurrected. Pilate and the Jewish leaders go to extremes to show Tito that what Jesus did was a magic trick and that his followers are a bunch of loons.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Tabitha’s father told her to shut up, and since she didn’t, he clubbed her till she was almost dead. Tito goes to find Shimon Peter (Enrico Lo Verso), who has a seedy smile and sweats like a used car salesmen on crystal meth. Saving her life, along with her soul, Peter performs a miracle and converts Tito. The two lovers go off with the followers of “the Way” and live a meek existence. Each report Caesar gets pushes him closer to believe that Jesus was the true son of God and that he’s about to throw all of the Roman beliefs out the window, including the one where it says that Caesar is part god. This ticks off his nephew Claudius who believes this new religion to be dangerous because it calls for men and women to be equal and that slave and freemen are equal.
I know what you are thinking. Whatever happens to Brixos, the poor bastard who served as a loyal fighter-slave for Tito? Well, Tito tells him that after all the fun they have had and all the adventure they have been through that the official papers were signed and sent in giving Brixos his freedom. Unfortunately this comes out on Brixos’ deathbed. Here Lundgren and Liotti pull together and make a very dramatic scene become a train wreck in motion. I can only thank the gods this thing was almost over.
For true believers, there isn’t much here that would really excite you. An orator with a passion for scripture would be time better spent and you would take away a better Biblical view of your world. Heathens like me will not get anything out of this besides a headache. The sets are fantastic and the costumes look authentic, but not enough to cover the dull and uninspiring script. This has to be one of the worst things that I’ve ever had to review.