Day of Wrath (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Very minor spoilers:

Day of Wrath is targeted directly at those who enjoyed The Name of the Rose. Like its more famous predecessor, Day of Wrath is a story about a rational man trying to solve some murders in an unenlightened pre-modern world controlled by religious superstition, and filled with corruption within the ranks of both church and state officials. Like The Name of the Rose, Day of Wrath also deals with a legendary missing historical artifact. This time it is not "Aristotle's Comedics," but a mysterious list of noble Spanish families. A 16th century sheriff investigates the lineage of the great Spanish families and finds that there are two versions of history. Some of the official books of genealogy exclude family names which are in other versions. The sheriff then comes into possession of a mysterious list which includes the same exact families excluded from some of the books. What does all that have to do with his murder case? Well, the mysterious list is also a perfect match for the roster of murder victims.

Most movies with complex historical backdrops are more interesting if you know the background in advance, so I usually summarize the pertinent historical context in my comments, but I am not going to do that in this case because anything I tell you would be at least a partial spoiler. The story works best if you don't know very much about the details of the Spanish Inquisition and the historical circumstances which caused the Inquisition to be created in the first place. Furthermore, the film eventually gives you all the details which I might describe here, but presents them in a sequence designed to allow you to maximize your enjoyment of the mystery.

The sheriff is played by Christopher Lambert, who has not had such a meaty role in about two decades. If you are familiar with his work, I don't have to tell you that Lambert has a very limited number of facial expressions, that his voice is not sonorous, or that he delivers most of his lines in an uninflected monotone with some kind of indefinable accent. Moreover, he is nearly 50 years old, and that's not a great age to be engaging in rollicking swordsmanship and strenuous horseback riding - including some fights between men on horseback. In spite of all those things, he handles the role with satisfactory professionalism. He doesn't have the swaggering macho charisma of Sean Connery or the creative and sophisticated line readings of Kenneth Branagh, and his age prevents him from being Doug Fairbanks in the action scenes, but Lambert realized that this was a good project for him, and he gave his all to this movie. Nobody can accuse him of phoning it in. He has the right "period look," and I believe he gives about as good a performance as he is capable of giving, and he seems to have done almost all of his own stunts. Lambert does look somewhat clumsy in the physical scenes from time to time, but the sheriff is supposed to be a heavy drinker, so his lack of grace fits right into the character.

You won't find that this film has the sophistication of The Name of the Rose, which was directed by the highly accomplished Jean-Jacques Annaud from an exceedingly complex novel by the brilliant Umberto Eco. In comparison to that minor masterpiece, Day of Wrath has some clumsy continuity problems, does not delve into the historical nuances, does not give off much of the feel of Spanish culture, and seems to reveal some of its secrets too early, but it's still well worth a watch, because it has some real positives:

  • It has several interesting characters, including a fascinating Hungarian mercenary.
  • It has some impressive-looking Gothic locations, and I especially liked the look and feel of the interiors. The libraries, churches, and houses were obviously created from period paintings. (The entire film, including the studio shots, was filmed in Budapest, and it was made with a substantial budget, reportedly $12 million.)
  • There is some nice nudity.
  • Above all, the mystery is both interesting and educational.

It is one of the best non-theatrical movies I have seen recently.



  • Very nice widescreen transfer, anamorphically enhanced.
  • "Making of" featurette.
  • Full-length director's commentary.


  • Hajnalka Pandi shows her breasts

  • Blanca Marsillach shows her breasts on multiple occasions, and also shows her pubes for about three frames. There is also a shot of her bum, but some abrupt editing and an unidentifiable face lead me to suspect that the butt may have been doubled.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No English-language reviews online


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.3/10. I believe it should be about a point higher. (Indeed, the actual arithmetic mean is 6.6)
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C. It's not a classic like The Name of the Rose, but it's an enjoyable film for those who like that kind of film, and it even includes some nice nudity!

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