ARTHUR AND MERLIN Film Review and Trailer
Directed By Marco van Belle
A spirited, enthusiastic and original re telling of the ancient and well- loved Arthurian legend. However, less haste and more thought could've led to a far better film.
One of the problems with a good concept for a film is that the enthusiasm it engenders sometimes leads to over enthusiasm. Add in a ready-made audience already in love with the Arthurian legend, and a lot of naïveté, and any film production might tip over into a hasty gallop into production. In Arthur & Merlin, the reworking of the ancient myth is certainly appealing, original and deserved all the heartfelt effort that turned it into a script, then a film. However there is the feeling that somehow, serious problems which could've been nipped in the bud before they became a problem have been over looked. This has ended up in creating a film which is sincere but flawed.
High spots are the actors and the two leads, 'Kirk Barker' is suitably dashing as Arthur, and ‘Stefan Butler’ shows good timing and acting talent as Merlin. ‘David Stern’, as King Votigern, and ‘Nigel Cooke’ as Aberthol are also good. However the script lets them down. It's not developed enough and suffers from the biggest rookie mistake of them all: The dialog is driving the story. With some more development and an experienced script editor, this might've been avoided. It is also curious that although they have called the film, ‘Arthur & Merlin’, they’ve used the Celtic pronunciations for the characters names throughout the actual film. Very clever, but not much good when it comes to selling the film to a foreign audience, which, given the popularity of the Arthurian legend, they may well be hoping to do.
Other high spots are the production design and costume design, which give the film a good cohesive, look and feel. The direction is also naive in places and although enthusiastic, could've been better thought out before hand when it comes to dramatic size and how to choose to shoot a scene. However, the shots chosen show either a lack of forethought, or a lack of shooting schedule length, as there are some clunky scenes that would've benefitted enormously with more coverage or, just different lens or framing choices. The post production also suffers from the same problems, with really bad sound in places and a hastily mixed score, which although majestic and sincerely crafted, is completely over the top in places.
The sound mix may well work better when the film is viewed on line, which it will be, as this film is destined for on line distribution, and the business plan may well turn out to be a trail blazer for others to follow. This along with good marketing.
Jane Alexandra Foster