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William Gregory Lee,
"Merlin: The Return" is the story of the battle between good and evil. The dark forces of Mordred are pitted against the mythical sorcery of Merlin. Mordred and his mother Morgana have been imprisoned in another world for the past 1500 years while Merlin's magical powers kept them at bay. However, in the present, a scientist accidentally finds the gateway to the other world and is about to release Mordred into 20th Century life. Arthur is reawakened from his slumber and together with Merlin, tries to find a way to stop Mordred from re-entering this world. Written by
Merlin: The Return I didn't find quite that bad, but it was not a good movie at all either. There are a few assets that made it more bearable. The music is decent, with some times where it's mystical and others where it's tongue-and-cheek. The late and very talented Rik Mayall is the best actor in Merlin: The Return and is also the best thing about it, while he plays it straight he does not take it too seriously, in fact he's actually very entertaining. Julie Hartley is a beguiling Guinevere and she and Mayall have enjoyable chemistry together that was not as present between her and Patrick Bergin. Tia Carrere has had a fair share of bad movies but she's nearly always been one of the redeeming merits, here she plays charming and bitchy quite well and also doesn't take it too seriously or go overboard despite having a type of role that easily could have gone either way. Leigh Greyvenstein is appealingly winsome and plucky, by far and away the best of the child actors. There are a few parts that were genuinely funny too, especially when Merlin tells Arthur how to contact the Lady of the Lake, the movie is photographed reasonably and some of the make-up was nice.
However, the rest of the cast don't work, either being over-the-top or wooden. The worst case was Byron Taylor who is awful, he plays his character in such a surly way that he comes across as a zombie completely devoid of any emotion. Patrick Bergin has his moments but while like Mayall he plays it straight unlike Mayall he does take it too seriously and acts like a wimp at times. Adrian Paul is wooden with some truly unintentionally hilarious line delivery. And Craig Sheffer is saddled with the most thankless character and chews the scenery to pieces so much(growls, barks and all) that you can't take him at face value and he doesn't ever come across as a threat. The characters are both annoying and underdeveloped with Merlin being a notable exception, and the dialogue is just terrible with no effort to make the characters interesting, create magic or mystery and it is laden with humour that is never really funny and is rather stupid instead. Apart from the photography Merlin: The Return is a cheap-looking film, the special effects look like a half-assed last-minute job, the costumes are fancy-dress quality, the lighting has a rather drab look and most of the sets apart from the odd nice one looked like they were made of polystyrene made and coloured in haste. The action sequences are disadvantaged by the poor production values but are hurt even more by the sloppy pacing, unimaginative choreography that has a slow-motion quality to it and basically just the lack of fun and excitement. The story has no wonder or magic whatsoever, it's often very dull and didn't seem to know whether to take a straight-faced approach or play it for laughs, it felt like it was trying to do both but failed. The mix of archaic and modern was slightly confusing and didn't mesh well together.
To conclude, mediocre, the worst assets actually being very bad but it has a few things that keep it from being worse. 4/10 and that's mainly for Mayall. Bethany Cox
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