Whatever it was in a previous life, "The Celestine Prophecy" is one terrible film in this existence.
Some would call New Age bestseller "The Celestine Prophecy" an allegory of man's yearning for metaphysical meaning, or a spiritual guide to a higher state of consciousness. I would call it a loopy load of aromatherapy-scented malarkey. But believer and skeptic alike can agree on one thing: It is a transcendentally awful movie.
Author James Redfield adapted his 1995 novel, creating a lecture masquerading as a drama, with lifeless characters who are merely ventriloquist dummies for his theories about synchronicity, energy auras and universal consciousness.
Matthew Settle plays John, an American schoolteacher who, through a series of cosmic coincidences, finds himself in Peru, embroiled in a plot to destroy ancient scrolls containing timeless wisdom that holds the key to human happiness. Dodging fire from government troops and rebels, John bounces between moments of pulp melodrama, chatter about the bad karma of energy-draining relationships and philosophical enlightenment.
Spiritual awakening is tough to capture on film, and "Celestine" goes after it clumsily, with a musical score heavy on themes of awe and reverence, and cheesy, preposterous special effects that bathe the new converts in halos of golden light. Redfield's cosmology not only promises its disciples a step-by-step guide to positive energy and groovy interpersonal relations, it can also turn them invisible around their enemies.
I took the film's message that we can shape our lives by focusing our attention in the desired direction. I shut my eyes tight and meditated, visualizing a better movie.
The Celestine Prophecy
½ out of four stars
Rating: PG for violence.