Brotherhood of the Wolf (R)
Dread Central; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Universal; Wikipedia
streaming sites: none that I know of
First, I should say the movie probably deserves a higher rating than the one I gave it, and most people do rate it higher than I do. But to me, it was basically just long (2 and a half hours) and somewhat tedious, especially for the first hour or so. It doesn't really help matters that it's a French film of which I watched the English dub... it was occasionally distracting to hear voices that didn't sound quite right, and certainly didn't match the lip movements. But I did get used to that eventually. (It was also hard to get used the fact that it sounded to me like a lot of the French characters had British accents.) I also need to say it's hard to know how to categorize the film... action/adventure, art, badass, martial arts, period, scary, supernatural/paranormal... any of these things might apply, but ultimately I just found it kind of weird. It was undeniably interesting, at least in parts. But it was also kind of hard to completely follow, largely because I couldn't manage to care as much as I wanted to. So I just got used to not caring whether it made sense or not. I suppose the best thing I can say about it is that I never considered not finishing the movie, which is something I sometimes do.
Anyway... it's set in France in the 1760s, for the most part, though the story is framed by narration by one of the characters a few decades later, during the French Revolution. Starting in 1764, there was a mysterious beast killing people in the province of Gévaudan. (This is a real historical event, which I don't think was ever actually solved.) There were some soldiers conducting hunts for the beast, to no avail. And then a somewhat philosophical knight/taxidermist named Grégoire de Fronsac was sent by the king to capture the beast. (I'm guessing he was the only knight/taxidermist/philosopher in the history of the world.) He was accompanied by his friend, Mani, an Iroquois whom he'd met during his time in New France (a colony in North America). When they first get to Gévaudan, they save an old man and his daughter from some soldiers who were... behaving badly. (Mani fights like he's in a martial arts film.) A bit later, the two of them meet a bunch of aristocrats, most of whose names, faces, and titles I would completely fail to remember. One in particular, Marquis Thomas d'Apcher, immediately befriends de Fronsac. Also, de Fronsac becomes enamored of Marianne de Morangias. And Marianne has a brother named Jean-François, who is rather important to the plot. Another important person is a priest, Father Henri Sardis. Aside from them... I remember no one. And I wouldn't expect to remember any of the characters I named, if I saw them (or their actors) again.
Um... and there are some scenes in a brothel, where de Fronsac meets an Italian prostitute named Sylvia (played by Monica Bellucci, the only name in the cast that is even remotely familiar to me). She also becomes important to the story, but I won't say how. In fact, I don't want to say much of anything about the plot, except that it seemed a dreadfully long time to me before we actually see the beast. But once we do, there's still a dreadful lot of the movie left to watch. There are some good fight scenes, and there's a bizarre conspiracy against the king. And there's a banned book, which ties into it all, somehow. I'm leaving a great deal out, much of it boring, and much of the rest just confusing or weird. But really, it's not a bad movie, and I'm glad I finally saw it. I'm just sorry that I couldn't manage to like it more than I did.