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Overall Rating
2.6

Awesome: 20.73%
Worth A Look: 8.54%
Average: 8.54%
Pretty Bad34.15%
Total Crap: 28.05%

6 reviews, 46 user ratings


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Covenant, The
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by Dawn Taylor

"If "Dawson's Creek" had been about warlocks, it would look like this."
2 stars

When I first saw the TV ads for "The Covenant", skimming past them during TiVo fast-forward commercial breaks, I was sure that it was a new series on WB. Generically handsome teen boys driving fast cars, a little spooky mood lighting a lα "Supernatural," a pallid blonde debutard in distress – it looked like the pitch was something along the line of "'Dawson's Creek' meets 'Charmed.'"

Turns out, that wasn't far from the truth. And while I was surprised that it was a feature film, I was even more surprised to see Renny Harlin's name attached as director. Why this should surprise me, I have no idea – the only through-line in the Finnish hackmaster's career is his willingness to direct any piece of crap that gets thrown his way, from Die Hard 2 to The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, as well as the Stallone crap-a-thon Cliffhanger and the gawdawful Deep Blue Sea. The guy directed a version of "American Gladiators" for Finnish television, y'all. An auteur he ain't.

So here we have Harlin directing a supernatural thriller about teenaged boys with witchy powers aimed at the 13-to-17-year-old demographic. Okay, I'll bite. I admit to enjoying The Long Kiss Goodnight, actually. And I'll even 'fess up to liking Cutthroat Island if you get a few drinks in me. Really – how bad could this be?

The answer: Not as bad as it could have been. Unfortunately, it's not all that good, either – especially if you're nitpicky about things like dialogue and, you know, plot.

In a flat-out steal from The Lost Boys, we're introduced to four generically handsome young men standing atop an impossibly high bluff, looking down at the lights of a distant beach party. One at a time they jump off the cliff, flying through the foggy night and landing with cat-like grace at the bottom. They saunter over to the beach party – one of those nighttime, torch-lit raves that only actually happen in movies or on "The O.C." – and immediately catch the eye of new girl Sarah (Laura Ramsey).

"Who are they?" she asks her dusky roommate, Kate (Jessica Lukas). "They're the Sons of Ipswich," Kate tells her. "Why do you call them that? Are they some sort of boy band?" Sarah wittily retorts. Well, yes, in a way they are – all four are descendants of some όber-powerful witch families from back in the Massachusetts witch-hunt days, and they all have Secret Magical Powers that come into full force when they turn 18. They're only 17 right now, so they're just pikers, apparently.

The alpha male of the group is Caleb (Steven Strait), a Billy Zane lookalike who tries to keep the other three in line. See, if they use their powers too much it becomes addictive, and it makes 'em age extra-fast, to boot. Caleb's dad (who may be an uncredited Rutger Hauer, or not) is one such warlock fella who went overboard with the magic and now, at 44, he's an aged wreck whose makeup recalls both Salieri at the end of Amadeus and Pirate of the Caribbean's squid-faced Davy Jones.

Caleb's interchangeable pals – Blond Guy (Toby Hemingway), Baby-faced Guy (Chace Crawford) and Long-haired Motorcycle Guy (Taylor Kitsch) are getting weird visitations from "darklings" – scary beings that appear for a few seconds for no apparent reason other than to freak them out. And Caleb's about to "ascend," i.e., turn 18, so it probably has something to do with that. And Sarah gets menaced by something in the shower. And there's a new guy in school (Sebastian Stan), so we know he's involved somehow. There's a lot of furrowed eyebrows and assurances of "I've got your back, bro" and exterior shots of the super-spooky prep school they all attend even though they never seem to have classes.

The screenplay is credited to writer/director J.S. Cardone (remember his abominable vampire flick, The Forsaken?), and it feels like an awful lot of it got excised before it made to the screen. Characters are introduced who end up offering nothing to the story, there's much talk of a "fall festival" and big dance even though school just started and neither the festival nor the dance figure into the plot, a rivalry between our heroes and another group of guys leads to a shoving match and then ... nothing. Scenes which feel like set-ups for something important go nowhere, and most of the decisions the characters make – like splitting up before going to the dance, and Caleb refusing to let his bros help him battle the bad guy – make no sense except as plot machinations. And what are the limits of their powers? We see them fly, drive off cliffs, summon up spiders and new windshields for their cars ... how powerful do they get after age 18? What can't they do? What exactly did Caleb's dad do with his power that turned him into that feeble old monster? There are an irritating number of unanswered questions here.

There are, however, several scenes involving our nubile young heroes in various states of undress (they're on the swim team! And they take showers together!) and a final showdown between two warlock boys throwing balls of energy at each other that resembles nothing so much as an episode of "Dragonball Z" set in an old barn.

What's puzzling about The Covenant is that there's so much potential for this to have been a really good movie. The actors are all okay, the basic premise has promise, and there was obviously a decent special-effects budget. The ending is left open for a sequel, and the studio commissioned a four-issue comic book prequel that's been published by Top Cow, so obviously they were hoping to turn this into a franchise – why, then, is it so damn sloppy?

It's sad when you watch a feature film and think that the material would have been far better served as a TV show. Had WB actually produced this as a pilot for a series – and patched up all the plot problems – they could have made a fortune. But as a movie, it's just badly, badly done.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15237&reviewer=413
originally posted: 09/09/06 04:54:06
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell not bad good atomosphere & effects 4 stars
9/27/08 Brandon they need to make a third one, because Chase's body was not found after the fire. 4 stars
8/17/08 Simone I actually liked it. COuld have been better though 4 stars
6/21/08 Charlene Faulk I love the movie. it is pure escapism and that is what I look for in a movie. 5 stars
6/03/08 scotty "harry potter can kiss my ass!"?!?! harry potter would ripped them in two 1 stars
2/04/08 karen usry it was good would see it again 4 stars
10/16/07 Beau An well made supernatural film, laura ramsey is great, she does so effortlessly 3 stars
9/11/07 Grayfoxx If the same set did some pron movie id actually pay to watch it. TOTAL crap tho. 1 stars
6/22/07 kate I really hope they make a sequel.They can't just end it like that and not tell what happens 5 stars
5/28/07 nikki i loved the movie but the best part of it was seeing toby hemingway the hottest actor in th 5 stars
5/18/07 Lydia since i am interested in directing a film,the used of computer impressed me in this movie 3 stars
5/07/07 Dark Enchantress sucked..i fell asleep in the middle of it 5 stars
3/12/07 carlos great movie! needs a sequel to finish it off 5 stars
3/10/07 Indrid Cold So bad, it makes "The Craft" look like a brilliant masterpiece. 2 stars
3/06/07 shannon there were some parts they could have done with out but overall its a good movie 5 stars
3/04/07 dmarketos i loved the movie too!!!!!! i hope they do make a sequel. it looks like there is 5 stars
1/21/07 Jeff Anderson It's a rip-off of THE CRAFT, but it's not bad! Harlin's visuals are striking & acting's OK. 4 stars
1/19/07 Adri This is an awesome movie, i could watch it over+over bcuz #1hottie of america Steven Strait 5 stars
1/17/07 Katy This movie was the best but specially because Steven strait is in it, he should continue to 5 stars
1/15/07 Jessi OMG! I absolutely loved this movie. I'v watched it like a million times. Loved Reid!(Toby) 5 stars
1/14/07 TRICIA NOVAKOWSKI The movie was totally awesome I hope they make a sequel soon 5 stars
1/12/07 michael they never do tell you about the "darklings" meaning. where were the other 2 at the end? 2 stars
1/09/07 ashley nice eye candy, good basic plot but they could have mabye it better a lot better! 3 stars
1/09/07 Caressa This movie was awesome one of the best ive seen in a while 5 stars
1/04/07 Brendan The look, music and action elements of the film were all awesome. Everything else sucked. 3 stars
12/06/06 alaa saleh this movie sucked..i acuatllly was laughing when everybody was screaming (2ALEEEESH)!! LOL 1 stars
12/04/06 Tara OMG this movie freaking rocked I loved it.I seen it when it came out,Still talking bout it 5 stars
11/26/06 Allan The movie was great. Ihope the make a sequel 5 stars
11/10/06 Allison Lafferty An actual ant in a coven would probably be more amusing. 2 stars
11/05/06 Shane best movie ive seen in a long time(since tokyo drift)!!!!! 5 stars
10/19/06 adrian lets see how brave yall r when u meet a real ipswitch descendant 5 stars
10/01/06 michael pretty fair 2 stars
9/22/06 Nij Terrible pile of shlock. And I love both action AND fantasy. 1 stars
9/22/06 Pritchett 'Saw it for free and STILL wanted my money back! Complete garbage..but I knew it would be. 1 stars
9/18/06 Anthony plothole movie of the century, worst acting and the script is TERRRRIBLE! 1 stars
9/15/06 scotty it sucked ass and would have worked better if they had made it a bit more soft porn 1 stars
9/15/06 Pogo I've seen better graphics on "Charmed" 1 stars
9/14/06 Brian O'Neill Lucky these guys are nice to look at. The film has no other redeeming features. 1 stars
9/13/06 Jorge Coronilla Much like "The Craft" but I liked it. 3 stars
9/12/06 Michael Coovert Pretty good movie!! I love the genre, though. Only those who do will appreciate it. 4 stars
9/11/06 kristie eye candy throughout...nothing more. 3 stars
9/11/06 erikaa th best moviee. it was wanting u to stay. for hours and watch moree. andd i loveedd it. 5 stars
9/10/06 Edison Yi wooden acting 1 stars
9/09/06 S.M. Stirling 17-year-olds acting the way they really would if they had magic powers -- flipping skirts. 3 stars
9/09/06 Darryl I saw this film tonight and I have to say it did hold my attention. Then again I am gay. 4 stars
9/09/06 Stubby From the people who brought you that flaming pile of dung called UNDERARM...er...UNDERWORLD 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Sep-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 02-Jan-2007

UK
  08-Dec-2006

Australia
  12-Oct-2006




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