MERLIN (1998)
starring:  Sam Neill , Rutger Hauer, Martin Short, Sir John Gielgud, Isabella Rossellini, Helena Bonham Carter, Miranda                Richardson, Nicholas Clay, Paul Curran,
directed by: Steve Barron                     produced by:  Dyson Lovell
written by: David Stevens, Edward Khmara





               WHAT IT'S ABOUT

An original story about the old druid wizard, Merlin and his association with the origin of Camelot, Excalibur, The Round Table, etc...   (This film aired on NBC on April 26, 27 by Hallmark)


                     MY THOUGHTS

I'm gonna do something I have never done before - I am going to review a "Made For Television Movie."  Why?  Why not.  This is a movie made for tv that is also available on video so anyone can go find it and buy/rent it soon.   So in those regards it is only fair that I offer you, my most loyal Pebbles, a review as only I could write it, on this film.

As I told Jim Durdan  - whose review will be available soon as well (remember the Siskel/Ebert reviews I promised when I saw L.I.S?)  Well, like I told Jim, I believe that MERLIN was the greatest Made For TV special effects extravaganza ever!   The only film that could top this in TV history would be "V".    In quality, MERLIN is tops.  In realism, "V" is still the conquerer.  Jim mentioned GULLIVER'S TRAVELS which I saw a few clips of and they were good.  And we have to remember the ODYSSEY earlier thsi year, that was very good as well.  But MERLIN was over the top good. 

For a 3 hour film (that's without the commercials, roughly) it was all edge of the seat thrills!  I was completely captivated by this event from beginning to end.   WHen I saw the fight scenes during the wars I couldn't help but notice the beautiful choreography of the sword/ax play!  When Merlin and his son fought it seemed as if it was for real.  I did notice some slips in the fights but I can overlook them because they made up for the slips in other parts of the fight - like when Merlin pushed the ax's spike into his son's chest.  Damn that was awesome!

But what is a review without a few mistakes? :-)  There were only a few things that bothered me.  ANd being so minor who cares.  But let's get it off my chest.

When Merlin was showing Wimehway (Sp?)  how he can do tricks and pulled the moon from the sky and fliped  it over his knuckles (notice the moon was coin shaped and had an edge on the side where a coin's edge is? - I noticed that.) Well, anyway, when he pulled down the moon to play with, the glow of the moon on the clouds were still there and never wavered even though the glow of the moon stayed with the moon-coin.   But, since it was only a "trick" and not magic, I guess it can be overlooked.

The other thing was the dragon.  That dragon just said, "FAKE!" all over it.  Sorta like the Evil Dr. Smith from LIS.  Mind you, however, this scene was performed by Henson Muppets.  The rest of the film was by FRAMESTORE.   (Sorry, I never heard of them, but they did do GULLIVER'S TRAVELS as well as ODYSSEY. So I guess that explains why the effects in all three films were as good as they were.)  But since Henson also did the creatures in the Star Wars trilogy and the new Prequels and the dragon scene can be best compared to the Rancor scene in RETURN OF THE JEDI, why does the Rancor scene done over 10 years ago come out better than this dragon scene done over a week ago?  Of course, the scope of this scene was bigger and there were 2 companies working on it to get an even keel of the "feel" throughout the film too and so some alterations were made by Framsstore, I'm sure.

The last real problem I had was with Queen Mab.  Why did Queen Mab get so old so quickly!  She was vibrant and healthy up to the end. We see some streaks (heavy streaks actually) of grey hair.  This is attributed to the change from   Paganism to Christianity.  But lemme tell ya: Paganism still lives today - it never died. It just got really weak.  We're told that if everyone completely forgets Queen Mab and her sister, the Lady Of The Lake, they will die off for good.  So in one moment we witness a great fight between Merlin and Mab who is weakened from loss of followers, then in the next moment, everyone walks away from her in an atempt to ignore her and she seems to just die right there in front of us by getting older and older and then fading away.   ---- But she was never forgotten.  See, Merlin is telling this story to a group of people looking for a god story, so Merlin still remembers Mab and so do many others.  So Mab never died, nor did her sister.  There is no way she would have "died" that quickly. BUT - it was nearing the end of the film and we needed a dramatic ending for Mab and this is possibly the only thing that would have worked out well.  So we'll give it to them.

Now for some quick praises - Lady Of the Lake - really awesome!  I like the way her necklace was made of fish and as her followerd waned, she had less fish around her neck. The voices of everyone in the film was awesome! Mab was sexy, but scary.   Lady of the Lake was soothing yet mysterious, I also like the way she used Merlin somethimes.  Excalibur was magnifecent to behold and when the lady of the Lake raised it from the frozen lake it was breathtaking!  Frick the gnome - possibly the best character in the film next to Mab and Merlin.  The morph sxcenes on him were freakin' awesome!  And this guy can see the freakin' future all right!  He was wearing clothes from different time periods when the mood fit him.  Martin Short had some fun with Frick and he had a chance to showcase why he is such a great actor in this film.   The scenery!  ALL  the scenes had wonderful backdrops and tremondous skylines that made the film as magical as it felt.  The wonderfull theory of pagan versus Christianity.   Well, not really a theory - but the way it changed over in the eyes of the pagan gods was nice, I thought. I especially liked the touch of Mab's servant who changed from a druid to Christian.  The humor was wonderful as well.   Mab had some wonderful lines along with Frick.  Like when Merlin's mom died, Mab's servant says, "Are you going to save her? She's dying!"  "No, she's dead."  Love it!  Nice romance between Merlin and Wymehway(Sp?) and the unintentional betrayal of Merlin when Wymehway made a bargain to get her face back.  


                            MY RATING


This is one extravaganza you don't wanna miss out on!  I taped it off the TV and I am keeping this baby so I can watch it over again and  again!


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