Metascore
33

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 19
  2. Negative: 8 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    May 2, 2011
    70
    Dragons may not be perfect, but it plays to the helmer's strengths, demonstrating an increasingly rare sense of scope and pageantry best served by the bigscreen.
  2. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    May 4, 2011
    58
    Florid, convoluted historical drama.
  3. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    May 5, 2011
    55
    Because his character is never clear, Manolo's choices lack emotional interest and narrative urgency.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    May 6, 2011
    50
    There Be Dragons is tethered to the earth by a tangled plot, wooden acting and the heavy burden of healing old wounds.
  5. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    May 6, 2011
    50
    This may be the most politically confusing movie about that conflict since "For Whom the Bell Tolls" -- I couldn't for the life of me figure out where Escriva stood.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 6, 2011
    42
    The flashback sequences sometimes come across like "'For Whom the Bell Tolls' for Dummies."
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    May 6, 2011
    40
    History can be an equalizer, so director Roland Joffe ("The Killing Fields," "The Mission") makes sure saints and sinners all get painted with the same uninteresting brush in this fact-based drama.
  8. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    May 5, 2011
    40
    It is a third man, a revolutionary, who nearly steals the show. Which might have been all right if writer-director Roland Joffé hadn't been so conflicted about whose story he wants to tell. But indecision can be deadly, and it proves to be here.
  9. Reviewed by: Mark Holcomb
    May 3, 2011
    40
    Its appeal for the rest of us is buoyed by cinematographer Gabriel Beristain's attentiveness to the ravishing Argentinian locations, but the geriatric pacing, flat-footed Old Hollywood pastiche, and Joffé's inexplicable penchant for tear-jerking Catholic mysticism make Dragons more punishing than a hundred Hail Marys.
  10. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    May 3, 2011
    40
    Controversially, Escrivá started the Opus Dei, and There Be Dragons is best appreciated by those seeking more realism than the albino self-whipper of "The Da Vinci Code."
  11. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    May 2, 2011
    40
    British writer-director Roland Joffé dips a toe into explosive material - the Spanish Civil War, betrayal, sainthood, Opus Dei - but all these big themes and characters slip from his grasp.
  12. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    May 5, 2011
    38
    There Be Dragons is like fine wine, served in a Big Gulp cup. A little is very nice. A lot is way too much.
  13. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    May 5, 2011
    38
    In fairness, putting holiness onscreen is an enormous challenge. It can be done, as several directors have shown, most notably Dreyer and Bresson. Bad enough that Joffe is the poor man's Lean. He's also the nonbelieving man's Dreyer and Bresson.
  14. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    May 5, 2011
    33
    Certainly looks lavish, from the battle scenes to the beautiful period costuming, but it's so stilted and humorless that it's almost campy.
  15. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    May 5, 2011
    30
    The resulting mix of hagiography and war epic is so muddled that characters keep addressing each other by their first names, the better to tell them apart.
  16. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    May 5, 2011
    30
    There's an interesting story here, but Joffe never firmly wraps his arms around it.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    May 5, 2011
    25
    Dragons may have seemed less out of place three decades ago, but it would have been a bad movie then as well. It's filled with clumsy transitions and erratic performances, and tied together by an awkward framing device.
  18. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    May 5, 2011
    20
    Beyond the lugubrious pageantry, there is no sign of emotional or spiritual life in the film, only windy posturing.
  19. Reviewed by: Vadim Rizov
    May 2, 2011
    20
    From its baldly overwritten dialogue to its claustrophobically stingy use of locations, Dragons is underdone in every way.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 15
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 15
  3. Negative: 2 out of 15
  1. May 7, 2011
    8
    I saw the movie and I liked it. I may have some secondary flaws, but the negative critiques are missing that in this movie the most important thing is the what (the content, the message), and not the how. And its message of forgiveness and redemption is just what we need. Full Review »
  2. Jul 14, 2011
    10
    First let me say to Enrique, It sounds like you have an ax to grind with Opus Dei. you must have been privy to their secret memos about "influencing the media". Get real! Nobody knew what Opus Dei was until Dan Brown's silly little novel was made into a book and Tom Hanks and Ron Howard kept mentioning Opus Dei in the millions of press interviews promoting their movie. Opus Dei is an organization for people who want to live holy lives outside of church. No money making scheme here. They function on donations just as any other not-for-profit does. Members are not recruited they are "called" . And I am not a member or even a catholic I'm a CPA with a few Opus Dei clients . Enough said.
    On to the movie....Not perfect, but I agree with Christy, well worth the $13. You will be well entertained. It is much deeper than its flaws and makes the moviegoer think about his own actions and human imperfection. As a non-christian this movie was more moving than I expected. Hopefully when you see this movie you won't waste time with the minor details. They really are not all that destracting to the average person who enjoys a great story. And scenes and lines from the film pop into your thoughts for several days later.
    Full Review »
  3. May 14, 2011
    8
    I strongly recommend this movie, despite agreeing with some of the professional critics' negative observations. The dialogue was stilted in places, the Spanish accents uneven, and the fictional storyline a bit formulaic. But there is a lot going on at a deeper level, which makes it worth seeing more than once (as others have noted). It's one of those movies that I've found stays with me for several days after viewing it -- scenes or lines will come to mind at what seem like random times, but when I think about it, I can see and actually use the connection. I would have liked Manolo to be a more balanced character so as to sympathize with his suffering and regret. Roberto and Leila, I thought, were annoyingly trite. But Charlie Cox's Josemaria was irresistible, which helped me to understand how he could have attracted so many people to his vision of the Christian life. I found it supremely refreshing to see Christianity and especially the Catholic priesthood portrayed positively in a Hollywood production. Reviews that criticize the movie for not being forthright about Escriva's support for Franco and Opus Dei's secrecy seem prejudiced: maybe they don't come through because they are, in fact, not true. I think it's interesting and also a shame, that whenever something is put forward in a favorable light, someone behind it is assumed to have a self-serving agenda. As Josemaria said, "God's world is so full of goodness"....even when there is war and suffering. Other movies I've seen this year took me out of my life for a couple of hours and made me feel good; this one took me more deeply into my life and gave me inspiration to actually be good. Speaking for myself, I'd rather pay $13 for the later. Full Review »