I love the legends of King Arthur. T.H. White’s The Once And Future King was one of my favorite books to read in high school and The Sword In The Stone was one of my favorite Disney movies as a kid. So as I got older, it seemed only natural for me to get a more adult movie based on the legend. I had seen bits and pieces of this movie when I was a teenager but never saw the whole thing until about 10 years ago. I had been listening to some classical music at work and my boss at the time walked up as “O Fortuna” was playing and he mentioned this movie and how that song made him want to ride around chopping people’s heads off. Yeh, he was a little bit on the weird side. Anyways, here is today’s movie, Excalibur.
The plot: It’s the legend of King Arthur. In case you have no clue, here is the condensed version. Merlin helps Uther make peace with a nearby duke, but Uther’s lust for the duke’s wife ends the truce and results in further war, the duke’s death, and a son for Uther. Years later, young Arthur pulls the legendary sword Excalibur from the stone it was in and becomes the new king. As he works to build his kingdom, he recruits other knights to his court, including Lancelot. Lancelot happens to be in love with Arthur’s queen, Guenevere, and when their feelings become known, it throws the inner court into turmoil. Arthur’s step-sister Morgana uses this opportunity to steal Merlin’s power and sleep with Arthur in order to bear a son that will take over the kingdom. Arthur and Mordred go to war with the fate of the kingdom in the balance.
In spite of the fact that it has an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews for this movie were pretty mixed. Almost every critic stated that the film was visually spectacular, but while some would say the whole move was a fantastic film, other’s commented that aspects of the film were a mess or even atrocious. There was also a lot of criticism about how the women were portrayed in the film, especially Morgana and how she was portrayed in a Satanic light in the film. All this aside, it did manage to be a moderate success, earning over $34 million in the US.
While it can be a bit dark at times, I thought this was a pretty good movie. Visually, this is one of the better fantasy films to come out of the 80’s. I was also surprised by a couple of actors who, while not as well known before this film, are definitely pretty famous now (Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart). I also thought they did a decent job of sticking to the Arthurian legends for the most part, although there were some creative liberties taken I am sure. The one thing I didn’t like was the dialogue. At some times it was completely bland and lacked any drama that you would expect from such a film, and other times it was even worse. Still, you tend to focus more on the visual in this film so that isn’t a total deal breaker.
So a fun movie to watch if you are in the mood for some knights and battles.
Rating: 3 out of 5