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Merlin (1998)

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Ok, so technically this was a TV miniseries, but it's essentially a movie one can buy on DVD now and will forever more be regarded as such....so...let's discuss it here!

I've always enjoyed Arthurian lore and this reimagining from the wizard's perspective really wowed me back in the day. Still does. Great cast, great score and wonderful stripped-down-yet-still-eye-catching production design. The effects work fine and I really like the Lady of the Lake/Queen Mab dynamic. Martin Short's Frik is fun too.

Probably the only weak spot is the aging makeup for Arthur, who looks a bit too young throughout. Of course, I guess he's supposed to have died around the age of 35 right? Perhaps an actor with a different face/physique could have sold his 16-35 years old transition better. In short, this is not my favorite take on Arthur, but it works well enough for the story. He's supposed to be a bit out of his depths and his not-quite-leading man quality makes him stand out from the more manly macho types around him.

Did you know the great actor who plays Mordred was an 11th hour recast well into filming? You'd never guess...

Edited by DisneyBoy
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I didn't know that! I thought Jason Done (Mordred) was absolutely perfect in the role of a petulant, self-righteousman-child, so well done, casting! Actually, all the cast were - as you said - great. The women especially: Lena Heady, Isabella Rossellini, Helena Bonham-Carter and Miranda Richardson (in all her scene-chewing glory). This one's my favourite Arthur-adaption (The Mist of Avalon is still my favourite retelling, but the miniseries never went balls-to-the-walls feminist, which was a shame) because it's both funny (FRIK!), pretty to look at, and great storytelling.

I liked Paul Curran well enough, I think, but he never did make much of an impression. But then again, it might be difficult to do that when you're acting alongside Martin Short, Rutger Hauer and Sam Neill ;)

However, stay away from the sequal, if you haven't already seen it. Completely unecessary and very juvenile compared to this one.

Edited by feverfew
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It's so funny that you would mention that. I didn't even know Merlin's Apprentice existed until I saw it in a sale bin at a DVD shop that was going out of business a few months ago. I practically hopped when I saw the title on the spine and then I did a quick search on my phone and saw that the reviews were less than stellar. I assume you've watched it? Let me guess: they basically brought Sam Neill back to play Merlin and just used him to beef up what was otherwise a completely invented story that could be shoehorned into the vague era of Arthurian lore, right?

Lena was so angellic as Guinevere. It's interesting to see the story's usual leading lady reduced to such a small role once the focus is shifted to Merlin's perspective.

Can anyone tell me if the traditional version of the story featured Morgan Le Fey as Arthur's half-sister? Did they always sleep together to produce Mordred? I was pretty surprised the movie went there since it was aimed at an all-ages audience.

Edited by DisneyBoy
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