04 February 2014

Movie Review: "Merlin" (1998)

Rated: Uncertain, but likely TV-PG for sexual scenes and violence
Starring: Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, and Isabella Rossellini
Released: 1998 (NBC premiere / DVD and VHS)
Synopsis: The wicked Queen Mab (Miranda Richardson, Harry Potter) fears the "old ways" of magic and wizardry are about to go by the wayside.  To prevent that, she uses a spell to bring forth a son, born to another mother, named Merlin (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park).  Though Merlin has magical abilities, he defies the woman who spawned him, and seeks to bring about peace to the land of ancient Britain.  Unfortunately, he and his comrades seem to have one fatal failing after another.  Will Merlin ever complete his mission, or will Queen Mab continue her reign of terror?

(WARNING! Spoilers are included in the following sections!)

Artistic Merit

Plot: 5/5
I've always said that I'm not much for long movies; The Fellowship of the Ring was just too much for me to sit through at once.  Still, this movie engrossed me in a way few movies do; in fact, the last one that had such an effect on me was The Witches of Oz.  I had expected to finish this over a few days or so, but the convoluted plot and mostly great production values kept me glued to the screen, especially during the last half.

Production Values: 3.5/5
The acting was awesome; screen veterans Sam Neill, Helena Bonham Carter, and Miranda Richardson did fabulously.  Action sequences were only interspersed throughout the film, but they were all amazingly choreographed and wonderfully filmed.  If there is one complaint in this department, it's the special effects, which were sub-par at times.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 4/5
The whole story revolves around a flawed individual--that is, Merlin--who never gives up on overcoming unfortunate circumstances and his own failings to bring about the greater good.  He also remains faithful to his one true love, no matter what.  Other characters are vilified for their illicit sexual affairs, which also bring about ruin.  Two couples--one of which includes a villain--don't let physical deformities prevent them from loving each other.  A major conflict is resolved without violence.

Sexual Content: 2/5
As mentioned, a few characters have illicit sexual affairs, one of which involves incest, though one party involved doesn't know it.  However, each of those affairs bring about problems for the characters involved, as well as for people in general, and is also vilified.  Most of the sex is implied with a brief scene, but one does involve a scene with passionate kissing on a bed.  Elsewhere, other couples do some kissing.

Nudity: 4/5
As a boy, Merlin is seen bare-chested, and one sexual scene involves seeing part of a man's chest.

Language: 3.5/5
Name-calling is heard infrequently.  The b-word is used in reference to an illegitimate child, where as the d-word is used to mean "condemn."  Someone tells a person to "go to hell."

Violence: 1.5/5
The battle scenes in this movie were bloodier than I was expecting.  Kings and soldiers go to war, which involves plenty of clanging swords, and dead or dying men are seen with blood on or around them.  A jousting injury is seen close-up.  A woman is forced down a set of stairs to her death.  Between the sex and the violence, I can't see how the MPAA wouldn't have given this a "PG-13".

Drugs: 4/5
Alcohol is consumed at times.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 1/5
Along with what I mentioned under "Violence," some scenes are emotionally intense, and there is a childbirth scene, though nothing graphic is shown.  Also, there are a few fantastical monsters that could be scary.

Other: 4/5
Merlin and other characters use magic, both for good and for evil, with which some people may have a problem.

Final Score: 4/5
I've been hearing about this movie for years, and even read a trilogy of novels based on it last year.  However, those books didn't compare to the actual event, which kept me glued to my seat like movies rarely do.  It's not likely one I'll be watching again, but, for what it was, it was great.  The themes in this film aren't for younger kids, but, if you're old enough...what are you waiting for? Check it out, now!

No comments:

Post a Comment