on 13 July 2011
"Camelot" is a bit of a mixed bag. It has its good points, to be sure, but it also has its bad points, and whether the negatives outweigh the positives is something that I think is going to be down to individual tastes - already the series is receiving rather mixed reviews. So let's break this down.
* The cinematography. Money has been poured into this production and you can really see it here. Sweeping vistas, use of CGI, even the title credits look slick and are thematically and artistically very similar to "The Tudors" and "The Borgias" (not too much of a surprise as some of the same people also worked on "Camelot" and apparently the show was aiming to follow in that vein).
* The cast. Again, one can sense the big spending here. You've got Eva Green as Morgan Pendragon, Joseph Fiennes as Merlin, Sean Pertwee as Sir Ector, and James Purefoy as King Lot. All bring a lot to their roles, putting in layered performances that bring the characters to life. Some of the lesser known, younger members of the cast such as Peter Mooney also succeed in pulling out some good, solid acting here.
* The show isn't afraid to be dark. Unlike the BBC's "Merlin", "Camelot" is much darker and contains a good deal more blood, sex, and language - most definitely aimed at adults, not children. If you felt that "Merlin" was a bit too wet behind the ears, you'll appreciate the darker "Camelot".
* Jamie Campbell Bower has been miscast as King Arthur. Arthur, who is after all the hero of the Arthurian legends, seems to be a whiny teenager here, cast on the basis of his prettiness. The character comes off as basically decent, but careless, reckless, driven by lust, sulky, and totally ignorant of the consequences of his actions. Not exactly kingly material, and not a patch on the legendary heroic Arthur; brave, thoughtful, wise. Also the writers have flipped around the whole Lancelot/Guinevere tale so that in "Camelot" Arthur is "in love" with Guinevere, a woman married to one of his knights named Leontes. I say "in love" but it seems like simple teenaged lust to me - Arthur's off declaring his undying love within a day of knowing Guinevere. My guess is the writers took this choice because they want to make Arthur seem like more of a hero and the guy who gets the girl, not the cuckolded victim as in the legend. The problem is it makes Arthur come off as a jerk for dallying with a married woman - Merlin even tells him to "cover this up" when it threatens to come out or he'll lose his crown. Gee, does this seem like the kind of guy who people would revere as "the once and future king"?
* The writing. Even the good acting from the majority of the cast can't overcome the poor writing. There are plotholes and logic failures everywhere, and more than once the plot relies on character stupidity, when in the real world it wouldn't take a genius to start asking questions and the whole thing falls apart like a house of cards. This was evident from the opening scenes of the series and continues right the way through to the end. Unfortunately for the producers and the tv network, bad writing can kill a series no matter how much money you invest in the show (and apparently that was a lot in the case of "Camelot").
In America the show received underwhelming viewing figures and has been permanently cancelled - the feeling does seem to be that the bad points outweighed the good, and given the viewing figures and the money poured into the project it wasn't making a high enough return. For me, I can definitely see the positives in the show but I did feel that the negatives, mainly the bad writing, simply brought the show down. As the show is so hit and miss with people though I'd advise catching an episode and if you really love it then think about forking out for it, rather than buying it sight unseen. I don't think I'll be adding "Camelot" to my DVD collection, but it has enough positives that it seems to me a good number of people could still enjoy it if it's their thing.
I love King Arthur and his legendary knights, whether it's gritty "historical" stories or a pile of medieval anachronisms a la Malory.
But the once and future king has really gotten more than his fair share of rotten movies and TV, and the latest disaster is "Camelot." No, not the Broadway musical or the movie adaptation -- this is Starz's attempt at updating the timeless Arthurian legends (which don't NEED updating), which just turns into a silly, sloppy and overly PC mess.
The evil princess Morgan (Eva Green) murders her father Uther, exiles her stepmother, and allies herself with her dad's enemy King Lot. But Merlin (Joseph Fiennes) is having none of this, and hunts down Uther's secret illegitimate son Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower), who has been raised by an adoptive family in the country. With Merlin's guidance and training (in rock-climbing), Arthur claims the throne --and gains Morgan's wrath.
He also falls in love with Guinevere (Tamsin Egerton), the beautiful young wife of a loyal knight, and is deftly manipulated by Merlin in decidedly unmagical ways, sometimes with bloody outcomes. As young Arthur struggles to unite Britain under him, he must deal with Morgan constantly trying to undermine his rule and his power -- but with little idea of just how far she will go.
The idea behind "Camelot" is not a bad one, and even the rewriting of Arthurian lore (the origins of Excalibur) aren't that bad. The problem is in the execution. This series wants to be a plot-heavy, gritty, authentic "Game of Thrones"-esque story, but it's actually more of a silly, anachronistic BCC "Robin Hood" (complete with multiculturalism and modern feminism, which makes it doubly ridiculous).
Yeah, this is one of those series where the costumes, sets, perfectly-coiffed hair and even some of the beautiful scenery all feel like they were lifted from a Renaissance Faire. There's no feeling of timeless grandeur, epicness or awe -- instead, it sometimes feels like "King Arthur: The Legendary Journeys." Additionally, the main storyline is.... rather weak, especially since the straightforward Morgan's plans for overthrowing Arthur get downright silly.
As for the acting, it's a mixed bag. Fiennes is wonderfully conniving and Machievellian as Merlin, almost to the point of being villainous, Peter Mooney is dynamic as Kay, and Green is brilliantly wrenching as a destructive yet wronged young woman.
However, Bower's Arthur is a massive twerp, with zero presence or charisma. He's a skinny surfer-dudeish kid whose appeal is honestly a total mystery. I mean, his Arthur only decides to become king because HE CAN SCORE WITH GIRLS. Who can take that seriously? As for Egerton, she's painfully awkward and rather flat, and her character is Mary-Sueish to the extreme.
"Camelot" is a painful experience -- not just because it's a lackluster, weakly-plotted series, but because it could have easily been so much more. Give it a pass.
on 23 December 2012
Finally I've managed to see this series on dvd (actually with some minor quibbles due to the menu, beautiful but quite annoying to use), well I've to admit it was better than expected from the reviews read, & above all, even knowing that this has been the 1 & only season ever of this series, I feel like they kinda tied it up quite well for the little time they have had...
So long story short I've bought it on the strenght of Eva Green & Joseph Fiennes that I usually like, now I can easily say that Eva's performance alone is worth the price of this whole at least! Jo is ok but a bit "grotesque" overall, instead Morgan, as performance, steals the spotlight even when over the top seems believable at the same time in a certain way (where Arthur never too much, he's not well developed as a character so that we truly can feel for him). I've enjoyed also the actress who played the naughty nun (was also Armitage's mum in "North & South" series), such a curious role...
As it's in vogue these days the legend has been reinvented "Tudors' style" or so, therefore you can have an idea instantly if this is your cup of tea (cool cast, pitoresque Irish landscape, glamorous costumes, gore & sex...but not too extreme, so that the rumour is that it's been axed because of this doubtful nature): that said the story loses its point in the middle of the tale, it's like the writers didn't know exactly where to go with the plot (or probably they were just testing the ground but ran out of time), & especially Arthur himself along with his crew become boring very quickly, this has spoiled the balance of the thing for me.
Regardless all the flaws I've still had more fun with Camelot than watching BBC's Merlin, because darker & intense in its highlights.
on 21 December 2013
Camelot blu ray region B German Import the blu ray quality of the series was excellent but I was dissapointed as I could not turn off the sub-titles when selecting the english language option from the audio menu
on 8 June 2013
Most of the reviews of Camelot have been fairly negative, calling it a whimsical attempt to challenge Game of Thrones as well as criticizing Jamie Campbell Bower as Arthur and generally labelling the series a ridiculous adaption of Arthurian legends. The comments about it being a poor challenge to Game of Thrones are relevant but only because Game of Thrones is an exceptional series, and it would take a very standard of television drama to match HBO's production. It is no insult to Camelot therefore to negatively compare it to the more or less unmatchable Game of Thrones, and this review praises, rather than insults, starz Arthurian drama.
Camelot is a version of King Arthur unlike any ever seen before on TV and it is this that causes some of its negatives. Lancelot is replaced by a character called Leontes, who is so noble and good its annoying; Merlin is given a ridiculous make over, looking more like a cross between an Anglo-Saxon war general and Obi-Wan-Kenobi as opposed to the Grey Mystic of legend; and there are plot lines that have been absent from previous Arthurian tales that are very slow and silly, such as Morgana le Fey (or in this series "Morgan Pendragon") acting like a good queen. Overall however, the show is vastly superior to recent adaptions of Arthurian legends, keeping some of the key plot-lines of the tales with some of the new characters and plot-lines adding to the positives of the series.
The characterization and acting is generally excellent. Eva Green is magnificently wicked as Morgan Pendragon, providing everything fans of Arthurian stories could expect Morgan to be in terms of physical appearance and character, and Green arguably gives the finest performance of Morgana than any other actor in film or television history (better even than Helen Mirren I dare say!). Also, Jamie Campbell Bower actually gives an appropriate performance as a King Arthur struggling to keep his family and kingdom together. Bower has been criticized for being to whimpish as Arthur but this fits well in the context of Arthur's character as a boy who has automatically become a king and struggles to become a man. Some of the newer or more enhanced characters also add emphasis. Sir Ector, Sir Kay and Lady Igraine are given more characterization than has been granted them in previous Arthurian adaptions, with Kay and Igraine being two of the stand-out heroes of the show, and there is an excellent plot re-working between Sir Ector and King Lot (played by the ever brilliant James Purefoy!). Sir Brastius also deserves a mention for being one of the most hilarious knights in Arthurian adaptions, despite only having greater involvement in the series latter episodes.
On this note, the overall plot lines of Camelot are rather good. The two pilot episodes are outstanding, brilliantly introducing the series characters and their personalities to full effect, with plenty of guts, gore, drama and a neat political re-working of the whole "sword in the stone" story. The series wanes in the middle, between episodes 4 (which could actually be the worst "Excalibur" reworking ever!) and 7, but the series comes to a fantastic finally with episodes 8,9, 10, which sadly leave the series on a cliff-hanger ready for season 2, which sadly was cancelled by Starz. However, anyone who has read or seen adaptions of Arthurian legend would not need to see a series 2 after episode 10 because anyone who has read the stories will know what happens next and ultimately how the tales of King Arthur ends. This makes the ending of Camelot quite appropriate because watchers are left with the sad realisation that everything will fall, without even needing to see what will follow, which makes the title of the last episode "The Reckoning", quite appropriate.
To conclude Camelot is easily the best Arthurian adaptions in a long time. It is not as good as Excalibur and no where near as good as Game of Thrones but with its new characters and new plot-lines its Camelot's reinvigoration of Arthurian drama that makes it worth the watch!
This pop-video, soap-style travesty with pointless titillation is an insult to the Arthurian Legend.
If you want to watch a film about Arthur - then try Excalibur  [DVD] - John Boorman's mystical masterpiece.
This is obviously the US answer to UK Merlin and I can honestly say they managed to get a fantastic cast and still create a mediocre series. With the likes of Purefoy/Fiennes ect on board, you would think that would guarantee a watchable series. Instead the script was overly dramatic and unrealistic, and if you look in the dictionary under the word "overact" you will J. Fiennes name, which is a dissapointment, because he can do a lot better. The main character of Arthur is completely miscast, they must have been trying to get the skinny pretty Merlinesque actor type, but for this series it didn't work. So the viewers end up trying to figure out why and how the kid that looks around 16 years old warrants being the powerful king the whole country will follow. On the plus side the scenery and landscape werereally beautiful and Morgana is brilliantly wicked. This could have been so much more.
on 20 July 2011
Camelot has to be one of the worst and dissapointing shows on tv.
It has a very badly written script and the acting is far from being believeable especially from the lead characters, The first episode was ok but let down by the later episodes.
Don't even bother buying this DVD because you will be dissapointed.
on 14 August 2011
Laborious acting, no charisma, does not gel and story deviates from original too much to be believable. Let down by a lecherous boy king who never grows up to be taken seriously as King Arthur. Battles consist of 15 men each side which Arthur manages to kill them all. Absolute rubbish storyline, actors don't gel and plots are weak.
on 10 January 2015
There are loads of reasons why Camelot should work. The production team, Starz, had a track record of previous success (and subsequent hits) - with many of the crew having worked on the acclaimed The Tudors. Then, there was the budget; the show certainly wasn't trying to save pennies, as the sets, costumes and CGI makes evident. Lastly, the show is a reinterpretation of the Arthurian legend - this stuff SHOULD write itself.
So what went wrong?
First of all, the casting is almost universally wrong. I know that Starz was trying to repackage Camelot to appeal to a younger audience, but they seriously misjudged the situation here. Jamie Campbell Bower is a very poor Arthur indeed; his youth, voice and feminine features means that he comes across less like a king in the making and more like a petulant, whining transgender person. That isn't meant as an insult towards the actor himself - I'm sure he would (and has been) good in roles more suited to his look and ability, but that doesn't include King Arthur. Eddie Redmayne, who at the time of filming this was not a star, would have been a better choice.
Claire Forlani, who is rubbish and one - dimensional in everything, is predictability naff as Igraine, and Tamsin Egerton's Guinevere is about as demure and graceful as your average porn star. Seriously, has Tamsin EVER accepted a role that hasn't required her to take her clothes off? As far as I can tell, her abilities don't stretch beyond 'looks good naked'.
Joseph Fiennes, surely one of the most over-rated actors of his generation, plays Merlin with all the depth of a pancake. Brooding and being constantly cryptic does not equate to depth and believability. It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that over-acting and good acting are the same thing. Worse, the character of Merlin is presented as something of a feckless buffoon - he spends the entire series being duped by someone or other.
Eva Green plays Morgan, and though she's only going through the motions here, (CHAUVINISTIC COMMENT ALERT) she does provide two excellent reasons to watch.
Clive Standen's Gawain comes across as an arrogant, swaggering bully.
The whole story should be about the struggle between Arthur and Morgan, but about three episodes in the writers seem to lose focus, and from there everything descends into a tiresome bit of Girl Power propaganda - with Guinevere and Igraine taking up far too much screen time with their uninteresting character arcs. In fact, modern feminism is one of the key themes of the show, and while I have no problem with that per se, there is no place for it in this context; the women of the time would have been little more than servants and baby-making machines.
Also, the love story between Arthur and Guinevere is, in the beginning, supposed to be one of passion and tenderness, yet Arthur's 'great love' seems to manifest as little more than a desire to insert himself into the shameless, slutty Guinevere. So he comes across as an unprincipled cad and she seems tarty. Hardly romantic. By the by, Egerton plays a whore fairly well, if indeed that can be considered a compliment.
Also irksome, are the battle sequences, which lack oomph, and involve far too few belligerents - more money should have been spent on action set-pieces. How impressive is a 'war' with fifteen people?
However, it isn't all bad news. The wonderful James Purefoy adds a bit of class and credibility to proceedings as the villainous King Lot, but his screen time is sadly all too brief.
The show itself looks lovely and sumptuous, with no expense spared on sets, costumes and effects, as mentioned already.
The DVD itself is stuffed to the gills with extras, and while not all of the material is interesting or relevant, there will doubtless be a bit of something for everyone.
All in all, Camelot is a missed opportunity. The show is pleased with itself, almost to the point of arrogance, as is evident from just how smug most of the characters are. This isn't the fault of the actors, it is simply bad writing.
At the time of writing this review, Camelot has not been renewed for a second series, which goes to show that most viewers saw it for what it was - a largely irrelevant misfire.