Format: DVD (Distributor: Prism Leasure)
Running Time: 92 minutes
Year of release: 1999
Director: Neil Mandt
Production Studio: Crystal Sky Communications
Much like the old saying about bringing knives to gun fights, when preparing to sit down to watch Arthur’s Quest, I accidentally brought a spoon from the kitchen instead of a pen. I was in the middle of cooking some food, so perhaps this blunder was understandable, but I felt, and looked, pretty stupid. But even if I had written this review with a spoon, I’m absolutely certain I would still have found work with Crystal Sky Communications as a scriptwriter.
This film is about the Legend of King Arthur, and the classic tale of when he travelled forward in time to be kidnapped by the woman from Baywatch.
This is gonna be shit, I thought to myself as it began. Seems that, like King Arthur, I can just sense things.
The first line of Arthur’s Quest is…
“The land is at war…”
Read that again, but in voice of the Emperor from Star Wars, so it sounds more like “The lend is at worr…”
Yes, it’s ye olde speak, and this is the past. Nothing too difficult to get the head around so far. All very normal behavior for a film.
We have more ye olde shite talk interspersed with someone cleaning a big sword inside a cave. The man doing this is perspiring so heavily that he’s surely almost dead. He recaps us on the Arthurian Legend, except in this, Merlin is referred to as a sorcerer. Are they not the evil ones? I thought he was a mage. Sorry, I’m being picky.
We cut to what appears to be one of Yorkshire’s more obscure after school drama groups, who are having a wonderful time on the side of a hill.
Are you guys okay over there?
Is this supposed to represent a war, a skirmish, or rival rambling associations that are very sick of each other’s shit? I’m not sure, but either way, it’s dramatic.
The camera pulls back to…
…a different skirmish? Because that other one is quite far away. Are they related?
I laughed out loud as the film utterly ruins the very first shot of the very first combat scene in the film. The man to the right of the above image completely fucks up his exceptionally easy to remember choreography (seriously, it’s just swing to the left, swing to the right), making the other guy look like he grazed him very gently across his shin.
But this idiot reacts to it as if he’s been killed. So, instead of retaking the shot or simply editing out that obvious mistake, the film cuts to a slightly different angle where he is now completely fine and swinging (“It’s left, THEN right Gary!) from left to right. All this heart-thumping drama is accompanied by the audio of a man standing on his chair and screaming because there is a mouse in his kitchen.
Then a disorienting series of fast cuts flit across the screen, one of which includes the shaking of a small boy, presumably for his lunch money. The boy is rescued by a king on a horse and they escape to safety.
The boy and king person eventually arrive at a clearing and dismount, which is followed by the best thing I’ve ever seen.
You see, this king is not like other kings because he can tell the time by (no shit) looking at his hand.
“It’s three o’clock” he mumbles. But the boy isn’t impressed. He can tell the time by staring at the ground.
He calls out for Merlin, who was lurking in the bushes (there’s a lot of bush-lurking in this movie). But as he approaches the camera, he unintentionally slips and falls on the ground. I kid you not. And for the second time in five minutes, I absolutely lose my shit.
JUST RESHOOT IT!!
“No way! It gives the movie character if we leave in all the mistakes.”
I had to pause the film because I couldn’t stop laughing and I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I then rewound it and watched it again. The actor playing Merlin is a professional however, so he gets right back up.
And checks his watch is still ok
They start babbling about his ‘quest for peace’ and ‘reuniting the land’, but Merlin has done goofed and failed to predicted their current situation because a “Horrible EEEEVIL!” has blocked his vision, and stuff.
Then, this woman…
Screen presence personified
…wanders out of the bushes, and we are introduced to Morgana. They are initially all pally, but then two of Morgana’s henchmen (more on them later) appear out of thin air and…Oh no! Shenanigans!…she is actually an evil sorcerer and not a nice sorcerer (?) who wants Excalibur for herself. Cue lot’s of “ha ha ha’s” and hand-rubbing.
The king instructs Merlin to protect the child. Merlin does this by standing behind him. He then starts blabbering about quantum mechanics and…oh wait, he’s casting a spell. Fair enough. Merlin actually screams the words “Hocus! Pocus!” and the most expensive cast member, Adobe After Effects, comes into shot.
Who despite not trying, is also the best performing cast member
Just before Merlin and the boy escape through the special effects swirl, the king says…
“Heroes never die!”
…right before being stabbed to death.
Yes I know you probably have a migrane by now, but fetch yourself a glass of milk. Better?
KAPPOW!! Smash-cut to the future where Merlin and Arthur are about to be killed by a speeding car.
Three feet more. Just three feet more.
But everything’s okay, because Merlin, after confusing the boy with big-person gibberish, abandons the five-year-old child on a motorway and goes back through the portal. I found this behaviour to be a little on the neglectful side, if I’m to be frank. But then again, he is a very annoying looking child, and maybe Merlin was just trying to do the rest of the film a favour by killing him before he hits puberty.
What happens next however, is a very important plot point and worth writing down. Do you have a pen?
The ugliest woman from Baywatch (I’m not saying she is ugly, just that compared to everyone else in that T.V show she absolutely is) almost runs the boy over. She gets out of her SUV to ensure the boy is unharmed, and then…
Ten years later…
The quiet town of California ebbs and flows, as ethnic majorities go about their daily this and that, blissfully unaware they are being filmed for stock establishment footage.
We slow pan to a…
…gaming arcade, where, slow pan reveals, a hideous looking teenager and his girlfriend. And yes, he really is hideous. I honestly cannot impress upon you how wrong all of this child’s features are, as he looks every bit like the product of that time the Hanson brothers fucked a gorilla, and were all proud parents of a botox freak. His lips, ears, and nostrils are in constant flux, and more resemble a balloon model of a cow than human features.
As good a reason for the abolition of monarchy as there ever was
The two rapscallions are playing hooky off school, and remembering this, Gwen (yes, this film covers all the bases of the King Arthur legend) asks King Arthur what the time is. So he…
Go on. You can finish this sentence by yourself.
…looks at his hand.
I did the same thing, but with my palm actually making contact with my face
“It’s three o’clock.”
At this point the film implies that they are actually brother and sister. Oh, okay. Really? But what about their obvious chemistry? No, I’m leaving this alone.
They go to their mothers place of work, a restaurant where she works as a waitress, to fill her full of lies about where they have been.
Oh my God!
It’s Brion James!
How’s things buddy! You never call!
Love the shirt, Jimbo!
Brion James appears to be a good guy in this film, and has lines (unlike in Nightmare at Noon), but he still can’t help looking evil as all shit.
King Arthur’s ‘mother’ says to her ‘son’…
“It’s my duty to put a roof over your heads.”
Er, no Baywatch woman. You fucking kidnapped this child ten years ago. I’d say your only duty with regard to King Arthur is to hand him over to child services.
But then my analysis of Brions James’ character is proven incorrect, as King Arthur catches Brion James checking out his adopted mothers ass and nodding approvingly. Shame on you Brion.
No chance mate
Meanwhile, right outside, Merlin appears through one of his low-budget portals in an alleyway, and gets mugged in broad daylight by the very first person that sees him. He runs away, and conveniently bumps in to ‘mother’. They both begin begin flirting with each other, so Brion James hires him as a bus-boy (?!?). The man is wearing magicians robes! Am I the only one that can see this?!
LOOK AT HIM!!
‘Mother’, who has hands down the best lines of dialogue in this movie, says the following.
“Welcome to North Valley, where we roll out the red carpet, and kick you over the head with it.”
How do you kick a carpet over someone’s head? Did you read the script before you accepted this role?
Anyway, back at ‘mother’s’ house, she brings out the nonsense for a second time when having a heart to heart with her 15 year old child about wanting to have sex. And that’s her wanting to have sex mind, not him. So eventually she explains…
“You better stay up here over dinner. I wouldn’t want you to be disgusted by my behaviour.”
…and yes, this film is rated U.
So the aforementioned dinner and ugly-bumping was supposed to be enjoyed with Merlin, a man she met in an alleyway earlier that day, who arrives at her house carrying flowers and wearing a suit and tie (where did he get these from? How does he know what they are? He’s from the middle ages?!).
He starts laying on the smooth, but she cock-blocks him savagely, and sends him on his not so merry way. Because of this, I don’t think it’s unfair to accuse her of giving mixed signals, not just to Merlin but to the audience as well. I’ve certainly gone flacid.
King Arthur doesn’t seem to know what he wants either, as he sneaks out of his house and goes to his high school (?). So…during the day, when he’s supposed to be at school, he goes to the arcade. And at night, when he’s supposed to be at home, he goes to school. Do you have any idea the time and money the education system is wasting on you King Arthur? No of course you don’t, because you’re a selfish little shit.
And whilst sitting there being whimsical and a stupid orphan, his sister turns up under a spotlight, and romantic music ensues.
Oh shit! Right, okay. They’re aren’t siblings. They’re just friends. My bad.
She moves to kiss him. He closes his eyes, awaiting her soft lips, and she slaps him across the face. Which is hilarious! And a relief, given that I still have in my head that they are related to each other. And are clearly children. They chase each other about the place and, retardedly, we are shown that Excalibur is buried inside a fibreglass statue of the school mascot. Because, obviously it is.
So how are we getting on? Are we still enjoying Arthur’s Quest? Do we enjoy movies? Why not have a quick shower? And then some more milk?
If you don’t mind, I would like at this point in the review to address why on earth something as stupid as Arthur’s Quest was made, because I’m fairly sure that even at this point in the film, even a complete idiot could figure it out.
Well this is what I think…
Because it was easy. All they had to do was borrow an established fairy tale, that someone else created, but the copyright for which has long since expired, and change the formula slightly.
Why not have it occur in the present, so you don’t need expensive sets or have to fly everyone to Scotland? Write the script on the back of a court summons, film on location as close to the studio as possible, and have the Hallmark channels programming director on speed dial.
Hire actors who everyone recognises but struggles to remember what from. i.e. cheap B or C list actors who featured in something popular years ago, but will now read any old shit just to try and stay in the business.
A good example of this is Baywatch woman. Who, I’m fairly sure, when ‘Arthur’s Quest’ landed on her doorstep, was in pretty serious debt to the Polish Mafia (Baywatch had well known financial issues), and really needed this gig. As such, she phones in every second of her performance, collect call from Jupiter, just like everyone else involved in this turd.
So what were the fruits of all this dedicated artistic input?
Well, so far anyway, Arthur’s Quest seems like the kind of milquetoast piece of crap that people watch when recovering in hospital from spinal injuries or cholera. Outside of it’s cheap stupidity, it’s inoffensive and banal, and perfectly suited to people who can’t get up to turn it off.
It’s the thing that rests on dusty shelves in Grandma’s house, only seeing the light of day when the reluctant grand-kids visit, and need a distraction, and even at this halfway point in the film, I’m not certain who would actually enjoy it. Although I suppose if you’re in hospital, and have just had a limb amptutated, you’ll love it!
Anyway, it’s pointless to dwell on the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ at this late stage.
Lets just get on with it.
Morgana turns up in the present through her own portal. However, it would seem Adobe After Effects must have gotten drunk and tried to kiss the producers wife as anything requiring it, now occurs off camera. Instead we hear the portal and she walks in to shot along with her two henchmen…
…Slagador and Timmy.
You think I made their names up, don’t you?
Black and fucking white.
Timmy on the left, Slagador on the right
So Morgana, Slagador, and Timmy are wandering around North Valley in full Renaissance Fair garb, carrying swords, and looking for King Arthur. Which surely means shit is about to go down…
Morgana also has a fist full of cash, and a handgun. Don’t ask.
Meanwhile, back at ‘mothers’ house, she is impatiently waiting for King Arthur to get ready for school, so she says yet more paycheck-material.
“If you’re late for school I’m going to stick your face in the microwave.”
And not for the first time, I have to pause, not to take notes, but to wipe away the tears.
Anyway, as things continue, Merlin jumps out from behind some bushes to confuse King Arthur with ‘portal’ and ‘end-of-the-world’ babble. And Timmy and the gang, beat the shit out of the school principle so that Morgana can play ‘substitute principle’ for the day.
Oh, and this sign was the fruits of the design budget.
Things cut to a classroom and…
Oh my God!
It’s Clint Howard!
How’s things buddy? You never call!
You’re God damn right he’s a legend.
Meanwhile, Morgana’s knights, Slagador and Timmy, are now a bit more dapper than before…
I don’t think there exists a century that these guys belong in.
…and I’m becoming increasingly embarrassed by Morgana’s dialogue. It’s all “Excalibur,” this. “Ha ha ha,” that. Nonsense, basically.
Then after a disconcerting scene in which King Arthur’s sister, sorry…girlfriend, is punched in the face and kidnapped by Timmy, Merlin convinces ‘mother’ that he is the legendary Merlin, and that Gwen has been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer so that she can force her ‘son’, who is King Arthur, to give up Excalibur, and take over the world. They have this conversation in her kitchen.
For some reason, the pupils have taken over the school, and Clint Howard…
Looking every bit like the chestburster from Alien.
…doesn’t give a flying fuck.
‘Mother’, after (no shit) successfully engaging Slagador and Timmy with a serving spoon, rescues Gwen, and Merlin throws a fireball at Morgana…
Pictured: Merlin doing his best.
…making her disappear. Oh, and Morgana made hundreds and hundreds of school pupils disappear as well. This tiny detail is at no point acknowledged or rectified.
So after inter-dimensional magicians try to murder her and her ‘son’, ‘mother’ is easily convinced to…just go back to work at the restaurant. Herself and Merlin have a heart to heart, and a romantic scene ensues.
Pictured: Merlin doing his best.
“I suppose you have to go back to Camelot?”
I’m struck by how, even then, when gentle violins are playing, Baywatch woman doesn’t kiss him. Good on you girl! Polish gunmen may be observing you from off camera but there are some things an actress just shouldn’t do. And could you blame her? She used to be in Baywatch, and he lurks about bushes.
So extraordinarily stupid shit happens, and everyone looks embarrassed, as the final showdown happens in an observatory.
Clint Howard is there, because he demanded more screen time, and the final battle happens between King Arthur and Morgana.
Again, we can hear the special effects but are not allowed to see them, as their swords fizzle and crackle like lightsabers.
After Effects, where are you when we need you?
Morgana, who’s actress is clearly struggliing with the weight of her sword, meekly knocks King Arthur’s sword to the ground. He spouts some crap about his father and and heroes and such…then just strolls over to her and takes her sword away.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon it ain’t.
It would seem that Adobe After Effects has sobered up and apologised, and is now allowed back in the film, as this happens.
Right on cue, Adobe.
With Morgana and her knights defeated, King Arthur’s dead father turns up to say hello. A portal is opened back to the past, and King Arthur’s ‘mother’ only agrees to travel back in time with him if she is allowed to become (no shit) Secretary of State.
Does she fucking realise where she is going?
They ask Clint Howard if he would like to live in the Dark Ages, but he ‘hymns’ and ‘ha’s’ and decides to stay and repair the school (and presumably figure out where all its pupils went). Good idea! And very logical. Except they give him a sword. Probably not a good idea. You’re a history teacher, you don’t need a sword.
Merlin is okay with going through the portal, as one might expect, but King Arthur’s sister, sorry…girlfriend, who has parents and a life here in the present, agrees to go as well.
Seriously? There is no WiFi where you’re going. I’m being serious. The Dark Ages didn’t have flushable toilets. And do you have ANY idea what they used for femine hygene products in the ninth century? Just do a quick Google search there before you make a decision on this. Seriously, I looked it up.
It’s fucking cotton wrapped around a twig.
1.5 out of 5
It wasn’t until the end of the movie that I realised that this guy was Billy from Gremlins. Thanks for ruining the legend of King Arthur AND my childhood, you piece of shit