In writing a review of this shameless Da Vinci Code cash-in project (the tag line on the cover even trumpets “Only one can shatter the code”!), it would be easy to fall back on easy comparisons to the Dan Brown books, or the Indiana Jones movies, or even Tomb Raider. That, however, would be predictable and, considering how obvious such comparisons are, has probably been done many times over by other reviewers. For this reason, I have decided that for this review, I will focus on the things I discovered by watching The Last Templar. After all, a three-hour epic mini-series brimming with historical perspective and exotic locales is bound to leave some sort of impression. So here goes:
Ten Lessons to Learn by Watching The Last Templar:
- The Knights Templar were awesome. Not only were they magnificent warriors with the ability to craft exquisitely devious code-making/breaking machines, but they were very likely the most powerful swimmers the world has ever known. Their swimming was so amazing that even when their ship is sunk by a Perfect Storm-style wave and all the seasoned sailors aboard perish, the three Templars aboard all manage to not only swim ashore, but do so clad in full chainmail.
- Even when her plucky archaeologist heroine – resplendent in evening wear complete with a pair of stunning Manolo Blahniks – jumps on a police horse to chase a group of thieves escaping on horseback, subsequently out-jousting one and bringing him to justice, Mira Sorvino unfortunately still comes off more Carrie Bradshaw than Lara Croft.
- After believing in God for one day, a lifelong atheist will consider tossing away his or her life’s work in order to protect people’s faith. All it takes is her exposure to some saintly island dwellers who really really believe in God and actually pray to him and stuff.
- Cars will blow up on impact, just like on Mannix.
- When examining an ancient scroll that may have been written by Jesus himself and has been sealed in a container at the bottom of the sea for hundreds of years, a professional archaeologist will carefully choose the location in which to examines such a priceless, delicate artifact: first choice, the top of a rocky cliff overlooking a raging sea. Oh, and gale-force winds are a plus.
- When a group of costumed men pull a heist in full 60s Batman TV series style, yelling, “That doesn’t belong to you!” at them as they make their getaway is unlikely to net any results.
- When a volcano buries a town, it can create a cool cave-like structure that somehow kills all the inhabitants but leaves entire buildings (and trees) unscathed. This allows adorable pairs of adventurers to explore at their leisure without all the messy business of excavation and months of painstaking, sweaty labour.
- When setting out on a potentially massive dig, the seasoned archaeologist needs only her boyfriend and a couple of shovels. Once the location for the dig is figured out it is a simple matter of digging in a random spot at that location until you hit a rooftop. After that, refer to point seven.
- Omar Sharif can class up any project, no matter how inane, even if he only shows up in the last few minutes.
- If Victor Garber is playing someone whose title is ‘Monsignor’, best keep one eye open when he’s around.
The Last Templar is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen format, filling my monitor with a nice, reasonably crisp image from corner to corner. Video quality is generally quite good, though there are a very few shots that are inexplicably lower-res. The historical flashbacks featuring the Templars are grainy and washed-out looking, a nice contrast to the rest of the movie, which has nice clarity from the first half’s urban settings to the second half’s sweeping vistas and exotic locations. Blacks are nice and deep with good variation and decent contrast. Flesh tones are nice and accurate.
The feature is presented in 5.1, but the stress is on the dialogue, which is very clear throughout the film. This seems to come at the expense of big booming sound effects. In fact, most of the audio effects are underwhelming, though there are some nice 3D effects that utilize the rear channels very well, especially in the quieter moments – there’s a nice tense sequence involving a cave-in which is set up by the sound of sand and gravel quietly falling in front, behind, and over the head of the viewer. As for the music on the soundtrack, it is generic and unmemorable.
Gallery with Storyboards
Making The Last Templar (21:11): This is a standard “We’re so awesome” puff-piece featurette.
If you just can’t get enough of this kind of thing, and have re-watched your copies of The Da Vinci Code and the National Treasure movies too many times, you could do worse than rent The Last Templar. It could probably have been pared down to a regular two-hour network movie of the week without losing any content, it is filled with silliness from the beginning right to the end (with a few brief, ill-fitting moments of ‘deep’ philosophical conflict near the end), and the perils never really seem very perilous. However, it is generally good-natured and breezy, and Mira Sorvino is attractive, plucky, and plays smart well. Plus if you watch for long enough, you’ll get to see Omar Sharif for a few minutes.