The Good: Plot is intriguing, Acting is good, Directing is competent.
The Bad: Characters!!! Most of the effects.
The Basics: An overall unremarkable film telling the Arthurian tale. At least The Mists Of Avalon didn't have Sean Connery and Richard Gere.
This is another review where I haven't read the novel the film is based on and I wouldn't care if I had; I'm evaluating what I watched. This is a review on The Mists of Avalon, the film. I watched it on DVD. On that front, let me first mention that the deleted scenes are a hoot. Especially when they write why they were deleted. The answer is usually "this scene was too obvious" or "this was edited for time constraints." While The Mists of Avalon seems to have quite the following, it did not win me over. Thus, I would have recommended far more scenes be added to the cutting room floor.
The Mists of Avalon is a retelling of the classic Camelot/Arthurian tale. This retelling focus's on the women of Avalon and Camelot and how they influence the course of British history. So, it's truly a tale of Morgaine, daughter of Igraine. Morgaine's mother is part of prophecy and intrigue and ends up married to the high king Uther and bearing him a son, Arthur. Arthur, in a series of events, ends up the focus of a soap opera. In the course of the film sires a son with his sister, has a threesome, and fights for England against the Saxons.
The question I have is what's superlative about this film? From my point of view, not much. Most of the acting is. Michael Vartan is excellent as Lancelot and Anjelica Huston does quite well as the matriarch Viviane. Also excelling are Michael Byrne (as Merlin) and Samantha Mathis as Gwenwyfar. Joan Allen is horribly underused as the villainous Morgause. And Julianna Margulies did not impress me as Morgaine. In fact, this was my first experience with her as an actress and she left nothing in her performance to recommend her by. This is a major fault of the film as the story is narrated by Morgaine.
In fact, the characters are the weakest link of The Mists of Avalon. There are several revelations in the film, usually about bloodlines, alliances or truths. Not a single character is appropriately shocked by any event. Frankly, if I were a king and I discovered I had sired a son with my sister, it would throw me for more than simply moment. Not a single character seems to feel shock or revulsion for their actions.
This alone makes it terrific for a night of mockery. No kidding. If you are watching this with people who lack a sense of humor about such things, you're out of luck. This film takes itself too seriously, everyone is so earnest. That's fine. I like deep, serious films. But this film is the hyperbole of that; the characters are so serious and deadpan there is an utter lack of humor about the film. It is begging to be editorialized. So, even in my first viewing, I could not resist making quips, pointing out obvious problems, ect.
At best, this is a film that looks good. It is, however, populated by people who make little to no sense and some actors who aren't carrying their weight while others take their parts perfectly and are underscored for time. It's easy to watch, hard to get immersed in because of the unflinching tone of righteousness and pomp. I'd highly recommend it for time with friends who want to watch something they can joke through.
For other fantasy films, please check out my reviews of:
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
Clash Of The Titans
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
For other movie reviews, please visit my index page for an organized listing by clicking here!
© 2010, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.