What follows was prompted by this review of Christophe Gans's film Le Pacte des Loups1 by the writer and man Mark Blackmore. Though it's kind of a response to that, it's certainly not an attempt to disagree with anything he says there (indeed, as I said in the comments to his review, in all conscience I think most of his points are entirely valid ones), but as the inexplicable enjoyer mentioned in that piece, I'd thought I'd try (after briefly pausing to shout "Spoilers!") to explain what I liked about it...
Firstly it's because I think bits of this are best serious Sword and Sorcery film, ever. Though bits of the opening feel rather like a western, and despite my fondness for John Milius, the opening narration and initial scenes of violence are better done than in, say, Conan the Barbarian. Equally, the scenes of Fronsac's despair and violent rage after the death of Mani are many times more emotionally affecting than anything following the death of Valeria in Conan. Of course, these sorts of things aren't specific to Sword and Sorcery, but the 'mythical beast', outsider hero with exotic sidekick etc. are all present here. (Parenthetically, the other best serious Sword and Sorcery film of recent times, I think, is the fourth Rambo film. Why is it that "actual" S&S films aren't usually as good as those that are ostensibly something else? Let's leave that aside for another time...)
And secondly it's because I think bits of this are the best 18th century intrigue and swashbuckler film ever (and you have to (well you don't, in fact, but I do) admire the demented panache of Monica Bellucci's prostitute character turning out to be a Vatican spy...)
I'll certainly grant m'colleague that it's a tad long, though. (And would be even if Gans had calmed down with the slow motion. His action scenes can be followed, for heaven's sake (rare enough, in today's ludicrous nano-second-edit world to be worth remarking on) so it's not even that this is necessary....)
Finally, and brilliantly, the guy playing the Duke of Moncan is actually called Jean-Loup Wolff.
1 Literally, "The Pate of Lupus", a subplot happily missing from the finished film. 2
2 Haha! Not really, of course...