Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Saint plays a Saint...

Television's new Simon Templar - British actor James Purefoy - has actually played a saint before. Saint George, to be exact, in the 2004 movie 'George and the Dragon,' recently released on DVD.

Produced by the Sci-Fi channel, George and the Dragon is an anachronistic reinvention of the legend of Saint George, the dragon-slaying Patron Saint of England.

Historical accuracy isn't the forte of this low budget film. Nor is originality. From the opening scene, it's pretty apparent that the script of George and the Dragon was cobbled together from various historical epics.

The movie starts off with young Englishman George returning from the Crusades with his new friend, an imposing Muslim warrior (just like Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.) The action then shifts to rural England, where Lord Garth (played inexplicably by American legend Patrick Swayze) is trying to find his kidnapped betrothed (mirroring the plot of The Princess Bride.)

As George and Garth team up, they cobble together a curious band of friends - like robust friar Jean-Pierre Castaldi (who in one scene, 'invents' the skateboard, just like Marty McFly did in Back to the Future) and even Val Kilmer has an appearance, playing the fifth incarnation of the legendary El Cabillo (another nod to The Princess Bride - and doubly curious since Kilmer also played The Saint in the dire movie version.)

Michael Clarke Duncan and Coyote Ugly star Piper Perabo buoy up the ranks, plus we have pop-ups by British sitcom legends like Bill Odie and Simon Callow. If nothing else, George and the Dragon is a great 'Spot the Star' game for movie buffs!

But all those stars can't quite make up for inconsistent acting and a truly dodgy script. If it wasn't for the injection of some laugh-out-loud slapstick comedy (like a village thatcher who constantly falls off his roof) then this movie would be an abject flop.

As it is, we're left with a fairly generic historical fantasy that manages to display James Purefoy's comedy skills, if nothing else. Although saddled with some truly awful dialogue, Purefoy has a sly wit and great timing - which makes me think he'll make a truly exceptional Saint in the upcoming TV movie.

George and the Dragon is available now from Blockbuster.


Kitty said...

James Purefoy ... mmmmmm, yummy ;-) x

BritGal' Sarah said...

Thanks for the honest review Roland, I may add it to Netflix just for lol slapstick!