During my time occupying this planet I have watched a lot of films. A colossal amount in fact. I studied Media at college and Screenwriting at University and I spent my time as a student drunk and subsequently hungover watching films. Netflix was created whilst I was tax dodging so I obviously calculated that the subscription fee was worth more to me than eating for a few days and so I signed up. I have watched a decent number of great films and a mass of horse shit. No matter how the quality fared or if my interests were pulled elsewhere; I always finished the film. Every time, without fail. If I fall asleep during a movie, if only for a handful of minutes, I restart it. Arthur & Merlin: Knights of Camelot was a real test of this life rule. I did fall asleep and really didn’t want to resume the film, but you’ve got to stick by your principals.
I got about 35 minutes in I think, just as the heavily pushed Richard Brake enters the tale, before I fell asleep. I didn’t nod off because I was tired, it was because of the sheer lack of fucking entertainment the film brought to the table. After waking from my cat nap, I considered starting the movie over again but following a tight mental discussion, I decided to turn the TV off and do anything fucking else. Time is limited and there is a boat load of media to swallow. If the people involved with this film can’t be bothered to make it worth the hour and a half of focus that it demands then why should I bother discovering the wanky conclusion? Eventually I did get around to finishing it, after I had got over my strop.
The first 35 minutes I digested included a large amount of overacting on everyone’s part portraying an abstract and dreadfully dull story about Arthur shitting the bed after winning a war and then running off to France. I think he leaves his son in charge of Camelot with a few Knights whilst some other Knights are with Arthur drinking, dancing, fucking and fighting in a french brothel. Arthur’s son has turned sour towards his father, developing an appetite for power. Think if the Pound Shop offered a personality description on a knock off King Joffrey. Arthur gets wind of his son’s twatty behaviour and decides to return to Camelot and kick him square in the balls. Or something like that. Merlin appears and then I fall asleep.
The production company leant on the name of Richard Brake, and you can see from the poster that they consider his appearance in Game of Thrones to be a major pulling point. I suppose it would have been if Brake had played more of a pivotal character and had not been replaced by another actor just before it was that character’s time to shine. Brake has played a multitude of characters across loads of films and has worked with many talented filmmakers across his career so I am baffled at why the marketing focus was “this cunt’s been in GoT don’t you know.” Everyone and their dog was in Game of Thrones, even Ed Sheeran for fuck sake! Not everyone has worked with Rob Zombie though.
Upon my resumption of the film, I was reminded at why I fell asleep in the first place. Arthur’s accent flip flops from Welsh to Geordie like a fish out of water as he addresses his knights whilst chilling in the woods. None of the knights are particularly interesting and the medieval “banter” had amongst them is plagued by after school drama club attempts at proper speak. Modred, Arthur’s tyrant wannabe son, emits an entitled little rich kid persona that’s been handed everything and as a result been reduced to a slimy weasel faced fuck. Looking like a sickly emo child, he demands everything from everyone because he was born in the right family. I think what I’m trying to say is that no character in this film is worth giving a shit about as they haven’t been well written or directed. The actors involved might be halfway decent in other productions, but the backroom staff are letting them down here.
The story eludes to a battle between Arthur and Modred for the rule of Camelot pretty much from the get go and the final third of the movie is that indeed. No surprises there. Arthur and the Knights sneak into the city and crash Modred’s forced wedding to some lass who isn’t overly keen on the idea. The sword fights are genuinely tragic. I wasn’t expecting John Wick levels of combat but we could have at least put a touch of effort in. It was like watching a battle reenactment at the village fate. And of course, Good triumphs over Evil. Oh side note, the great and powerful Richard Brake is in a grand total of two scenes. Two fucking scenes!
Furlough had its advantages. It allowed me to return to scribbling away about films. Champion. However, I am now back at work and it has been utterly manic and once again my time is ridiculously sparse. If I am able to squeeze in a film, it can’t be one with a DOP who has made the clever decision to only use natural lighting, even when the scene is inside a dark room. My eyes grow weaker every day and there is no need for that shit DOP, no need at all. Arthur & Merlin: Knights of Camelot is a painful, incoherent, and somehow predictable watch, so just don’t.
Dir: Giles Alderson
Scr: Giles Alderson, Simon Cotton, Jonny Grant
Cast: Richard Brake, Richard Short, Stella Stocker, Joel Phillimore
Prd: Jeet Thakrar, Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar, Clay Epstein, Sammy Measom, Katie Wilkinson, Elizabeth Williams
DOP: Andrew Rodger
Music: Nick Samuel
Run time: 90 minutes
Signature Entertainment presents Arthur & Merlin: Knights of Camelot on Digital HD and DVD 13 July