Pope John Paul II aired last night on CBS.
In the first part that was shown last night, it started with JP being shot by the Turkish guy in St. Peter's Square in 1981. The trauma of the attack led to a series of brief flashbacks that ended with the movie seguing into 1939 with young Karol (played by Cary Elwes, who either fattened up a bit for the role or has let himself go now that he's older) as a university student and actor with a girlfriend.
Young Karol spent most of the early part of the movie watching his friends being dragged off by the Nazis and asking the Bishop for help in figuring out how to resist. One poignant scene was where Karol at the rock-splitting worksite was telling the Polish laborers about the evils of communism over lunch.
Later, as Archbishop of Krakow, Karol stood up to the Communist Stormtroopers who were about to overrun his outdoor Mass. As the troopers were converted and pulled off their helmets to take part in the Mass, a woman behind Karol noted something along the lines of how Karol is the light God has sent to bring Poland out of the darkness. Heady words!
I think Cary Elwes is a very good actor, but frankly, the first part was bad, with cheesy dialogue and Karol all too obviously finding his way while surrounded by his Jewish friend, the saintly Bishop who foiled the Nazis and later the Communists, etc.
Not that I want to see Jon Voight be as bad, but I would be disappointed if he gets more to work with than Cary.
Pope John Paul II: two stars.