'Prophecy': Better as book

Special to The Times

Way back in the 1990s, author James Redfield initially self-published his novel "The Celestine Prophecy," which would go on to huge international success. Redfield, along with Barnet Bain and Dan Gordon, wrote the screenplay for and receives a producer credit on this adaptation, but it is hard to imagine the film having anywhere near the effect of its source material.

Essentially a New Age self-actualization story stuffed inside a jungle adventure, the film follows a recently laid-off schoolteacher (Matthew Settle) as he spontaneously sets off for Peru to learn more about a mysterious series of scrolls, each of which contains a specific "insight," a perceived universal truth about existence and the universe.

Much as with the "What the Bleep Do We Know?" films, it is difficult to assess "Celestine" without acknowledging the extent to which an individual viewer buys into the particular brand of spiritual guidance the movie is pushing.

By severely compacting much of the talk from the dialogue-heavy source novel, the film is unlikely to win new converts to its ideology but may also alienate some of the faithful, who will find only a cursory overview of the book's notions about energy and coincidence.

Strictly addressing the filmmaking involved, as directed by journeyman veteran Armand Mastroianni, the movie is flatly acted and extremely ill-paced, lacking any sense of urgency, momentum or fun. "Romancing the Stone" it is not.


'The Celestine Prophecy'

MPAA rating: PG for some violence

A RAM Entertainment release. Director Armand Mastroianni. Screenplay James Redfield and Barnet Bain with Dan Gordon, based on the novel by Redfield. Director of photography R. Michael Givens. Editor Maysie Hoy. Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes.

In selected theaters.

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