About as sunny as it sounds, Christopher Smith's grim fairy tale Black Death finds a 14th-century knight (Sean Bean, of HBO's Game of Thrones) and his band of mirthless mercenaries traveling the European countryside in search of a rumored necromancer. Reluctantly joining them for the journey is Osmund, a young monk played by The Other Boleyn Girl's Eddie Redmayne, who finds their violent brand of piety less than Christian. Surrounded by the devastation wrought by the onset of the bubonic plague, in a world seemingly forsaken by God, will Osmund allow himself to be seduced by pagans – led by Carice von Houten's alluring high priestess – whose village remains curiously unaffected by pestilence?
John Cusack is a reliably interesting actor, and if his movies are not always up to the standards of his best – among them, Say Anything… (1989) and High Fidelity (2000) – they are at least watchable. That he has chosen to star in Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster fantasy, the laughably overwrought 2012, does no damage to his credibility, and reaffirms his talent for bringing heft to an otherwise weightless exercise.