DVD review from The Movie Snob.
Excalibur (B). This was my first time to see this 1981 version of the legend of King Arthur. I have to say, I thought it was pretty good. The special effects were a little cheesy, as befits a movie of that era, but I thought the numerous battle scenes were generally well done. Nowadays, directors so often fudge big battle scenes (or even little fight scenes) by editing them into a jumble of quick cuts so that you have no idea what is going on. But there are no such shortcuts in Excalibur, and you get the feeling this is something like how battles were back in the day—clamorous and confusing affairs, with men staggering and stumbling about in their armor, and hacking and bludgeoning about almost blindly. Director and co-writer John Boorman (Deliverance) crams the whole Arthurian legend, including some backstory about Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon, into 2 hours and 20 minutes. I had heard the movie was pretty racy for its time, and there is a bit of sex and nudity. What’s shocking is when you listen to the director’s commentary and find out one of the young ladies involved is his own daughter! And it is a little gruesome in parts, so the R rating is even more fully justified. The guy who plays Merlin (Nicol Williamson, Robin and Marian) is kind of a kick, seeming only about half serious most of the time. Another fun aspect of the movie is seeing all the actors who went on to become famous, such as Liam Neeson (Wrath of the Titans), Patrick Stewart (X-Men: The Last Stand), Helen Mirren (The Queen), Ciaran Hinds (John Carter), and Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects). I enjoyed it.