Merlin: The Return (2000) Poster

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Parody
katana5511 November 2004
This movie is a parody, right ??? There is no other way to describe it. It's either a parody or a fiasco. Merlin should be regal like Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies, not the village idiot. King Arthur is a wimp and please don't start me on Mordred.

Adrian Paul as Lancelot (one of the two main reasons I bothered to watch this movie) looks like someone who doesn't know what the hell he is doing there, but decided that "if I'm stuck here at least lets have some fun". He is having fun and in the few scenes he is in, Mr. Paul can hardly keep straight face. This movie is a must miss movie, especially if you are a "King Arthur and the round table" tales buff.
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8
GRECOFILM8 January 2004
If, when in the cinema, children are spinning round to stare at you, it means either that the film itself is terminally terrible or you've sprouted a massive boil on your forehead that you hadn't quite noticed. The first answer is, of course, the right one. And as for "Merlin The Return", it's a stinker in a division all of its own. It's almost as if director Paul Matthews had accepted a bet to make the worst possible film. Well, he's succeeded, and his winnings are bound to be more than Merlin will ever make.

Matthews' lumbering style sees the picture heave from one gormless scene to the next, helped on its way by the most awful acting. Rik Mayall (Merlin) trots out his usual sweaty desperation and manic panic, Patrick Bergin (King Arthur) looks like an embarrassing dad (complete with silly wig and glitzy, disco-friendly pullover), while the token American (no doubt included to secure international release - some hope) is a kid who seems to be reading his lines off Merlin's forehead.
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2/10
A woeful mixture of fantasy, reality and unintentional humour.
paul.corrie19 February 2001
Nearly a laugh a minute, and some were probably intentional. The performance of Adrian Paul as Lancelot caused giggles every time he spoke, and a less regal Arthur I cannot imagine. If you give this film any thought it fell apart even more thoroughly than on a total suspension of disbelief. Only Rik Mayall seemed to have got the joke. My 9 year old boy loved it but even he thought that it was totally unbelievable!
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Helarious
Buckledcranium29 March 2006
This is one of the funniest films I've ever seen. I went to it the first time having never seen a trailer hoping for a King Arthur oriontated Action movie.

What I got was an afternoon of laughs. THis film is helarious. Shot in South Africa - set in englad? What were they thinking?

"Ohh don't worry - it's just Merrrlin" - say the the two modern kids as he falls out of the sky landing on their car - the've met before we learn.... but how?

I found it so funny I brought all my friends to it one day later.

PS - it's not meant to be funny when it is funny.

That's the funny part!
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5/10
Both Great and Horrid at the same time.
Wow. I don't think I have ever been so torn as I have been watching "Merlin The Return". Rik Mayall, Adrian Paul, and so many others put in absolutely wonderful performances.

However, there were 2 MAJOR points that made this utterly disasterous.

1) The American Kid. There are some scenes that's he's good in. Most, he is just... BAD to be kind.

2) The "Modern Day" characters about town. The main ones they focused on (including the kids) seemed too accepting of Merlin and his appearing. Someone could of said "he appeared out of nowhere", and someone else laugh it off. If perhaps it was established better that Merlin was known as "the town nutter" (a little extra dialog could of killed that one) and only one person believed he was really Merlin (say the girl or her mother), then there could be a better believability. Also, everyone seemed to be a bit nonchalant when Merlin uses his magic and then Mordred comes through the gateway the first time.

Yet through the holes, lies a pretty darn good story for the most part, and some solid acting and swordplay. Really a fun movie.

I gave it 5 out of 10, because of the distractions, but it's still a very fun movie, though better for kids than adults (and that could of easily been fixed).
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Drop Dead, Mordred
Eyes_of_Emerald6 September 2002
I hadn't ever heard of this movie until I ran across it on cable this evening, and seeing Rik Mayall's name in it, I figured I'd check it out, being a fan of "The Young Ones" from way back. Well obviously he's a young one no longer, but he does a enthusiastic turn as Merlin in this unfortunate mish-mash of I-don't-know-what.

Was this really Patrick Bergin, Tia Carrere, Craig Sheffer (oh what happened to the days of "A River Runs Through It"?)? Throw in a little Stonehenge mythology, Arthurian legend, special effects that look like they flew out of "Ghostbusters" and this could have been a LOT better movie. Bad things happen to good actors, and this movie is proof. Discombobulated plot, confusion abounds, and I kept hoping Elizabeth from "Drop Dead Fred" would pop up and say the magic words and make it all go back in the jack-in-the-box. Craig Sheffer is in no way, shape or form cut out to be this creepy time traveler, he's a great actor and what in the world made him do this movie is beyond me. Patrick Bergin doesn't really have that much enthusiasm either.

Mayall does seem to be the most inclined to try his best, so I'd give this a 5 out of 10.
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Merlin's spell holding Mordred in the Netherworld, and Arthur and his knights in their sleep is weakening. Arthur and a couple of children have to save the world.
Ada_Lovelace24 June 2005
All right, it's silly, and a little bit lame - but this film is entertaining... The sight of Mordred's soldiers, going through the rift as skeletal ghosts is genuinely freaky - but fun. The friendship between the children was a little bit sudden, but nice - and there was genuine suspense, and as is to be expected with Rik Mayall as Merlin, the film is funny. I found it genuinely entertaining. It was great to see so many women in important action-filled roles, and Tia Carrera's villainous woman scientist was a convincing portrayal. Craig Sheffer's scenery-chewing is great - he obviously had a wild time making this film, and there are elements of comedy in his over-the-top portrayal of Mordred. In some ways, the film seems to be trying to achieve contradictory aims - comedy and horror and they don't seem too well-melded. Yet, I still consider this a good evening's entertainment.
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2/10
Not the worse movie I've seen.....
pmc31-121 August 2003
but coming close to it.

This film has possibly on of the worst, and slowest, sword fights in the history of cinema. It was that bad, it looked as though the editor had used footage of a dress rehearsal, instead of the real scene.

Add to this appalling accents, dodgy over the top acting, and cheap sets that looked like early Dr Who/ sixties Star Trek.

If you're an adult watch John Boormans "Excalibur". If you have kids watch the Sam Neil mini-series.

But avoid this at all costs.
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3/10
An embarrassment all round
Leofwine_draca18 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
MERLIN: THE RETURN is an ill-advised B-movie reworking of the Arthurian story, studded with recognisable British actors but made on a tiny budget that renders the whole thing complete nonsense. I mean, I know this was a kid's movie and all, but to make no effort whatsoever in terms of scripting and staging leads to great embarrassment all round. Nobody here gives a good performance aside from the reliably kooky Rik Mayall, and even he's off-form. The rest of the cast are wooden, particularly the awful Craig Sheffer as the villain of the piece. Patrick Bergin shows up as a tired Arthur while Adrian Paul appears briefly as Lancelot, while Tia Carrera is a random scientist added to the mix. The film's awful special effects and general lack of coherence make it worse even than the kid's films churned out by Charles Band's Full Moon Pictures enterprises from Romania, and that's saying something.
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2/10
Rik had a bad couple of years.....
FlashCallahan20 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
.....What with his accident, Guest House Paradiso, and this, it was a low point for the funny,an, and after this, the only way was up.

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.....

To say the film is bad would be an understatement. I have seen some turkeys in my time, but this is below the children's film foundation standards, and seeing the likes of Bergin, Mayall, and even Sheffer, utter an inane script and perform against horrible CGI skeletons.

But that's not the bad part, the child actors are skull scraping lay bad, and Tia Carrere, once brilliant in Wayne's World and True Lies, is the pits, the absolute pits.

But for such a dog of a movie, it must have mystical powers, because I couldn't take my eyes off screen for a second.

On the plus side, it's the best Stonehenge based movie featuring Merlin in the present ever made.

I will give it that.
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Why does this get so many bad reviews here?
annevejb21 August 2007
I do not understand why there are so many negative comments for this.

This is not one of the absolutely best features made with a view to accessibility by children, but it is a long way from the worst. I can enjoy some really iffy ones, this is definitely not as iffy as I would understand it to be from the comments here.

Could be the detractors just saw it the once and did not notice enough detail to make them go back. I do not watch this regularly, but Leigh, who plays the girl Kate, stood out, highs and lows, and by now I have seen it more than five times and there is lots of detail all over it that I can now rate as effective comedy. I now find this to be a lot better than average. I accept that it took time for appreciation to grow in me. Kate is now looking effectively portrayed, the others too.

Another possibility is that maybe this is breaking a taboo that I have not noticed yet. So many negative comments for no obvious reason, that would fit, but if so I would have expected to notice just why.

This is not the first PG rated feature that I have seen with such poor reviews, mostly for them fitting the niche of PG, but this has a slightly different pattern?

So, a better than average story for children of 'all ages'. Maybe easier appreciated, first time round, by the physically older. A story that benefits from repeated viewing. A story that some appear to have a very real allergy to.
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10/10
a few spoilers
SAMMUM19 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
First of all some setbacks to the film:

The kid who played Richie was absoloutely dreadful! That performance was probably one of the worst I have ever seen in a film. He looked totally unbelievable in the role and a blind chimp with his hands behind his back could have done a better job! The worst piece of acting in the film for him was when he walked through the door and saw tia carrere and that bad guy. The lines were something like "what is that"( he was probably standing in front of a mirror and saw his own acting). Adrian Paul was also disappointing in the role Lancelot. It was an OK performance but was a bit wooden and he didn't seem to show any good signs of acting( highlander 2 springs to mind). The script to the film was a bit weak and did not show off any of the actors talents as they should have done

Some better performances

Even though I cannot stand Patrick Bergin as a person, in fact i think he is very arrogant, he still did a good job with the film. It wasn't brilliant but it was above average.

Tia Carrere, who I am a big fan of was very well cast in the bitchy role. As nice as Tia is off screen her best roles seem to be playing the baddie( an exeptional performance in true lies). Tia is a very funny actress and the comedy seemed to shine through naturally in this film.

Rik Mayall was also very well cast and was hilarious in the role as merlin

The two performances were Tia, Rick and Patrick
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1/10
Skip this at all costs!
Angry_Dad19 February 2004
Remember the 1980's, where bad fantasy films sprouted out of the woodwork? Well, if you want to re-live that 1980's bad fantasy film experience again without watching such "gems" as "Hawk, the Slayer", "Ator" or "Krull", just look for this one collecting dust at your local video store.

Hmm... Adrian Paul AND Tia Carrere, oh you KNOW this is going to be good. I can't think of a film with Tia Carrere in it that didn't stink. Tia really needs someone with either some sense or some taste to look at the scripts she is given and tell her which ones are rubbish, because she obviously has no idea which scripts are terrible. Then again, maybe they drove a dump truck full of money to her house. Adrian Paul, better known for latching onto one of the most overrated franchises of all time ("Highlander" is so lame, and yet it spawned so much... ugh), gives a very wooden performance at best. All this film needed to hit the "Bad Movie Actor Trifecta" was Christopher Lambert; at least we have Craig Sheffler doing his best Christopher Lambert impersonation as Mordred. Even Rik Mayall, the reason why I watched this (I loved his work in "The Young Ones" and "The Black Adder"), seemed to give a uninspired performance.

It seems the theme behind the production here was "slapdash", and considering when it came out, this theory may be right. Despite the date given here at IMDB, the Copyright date on the movie is 2000, and both "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" were in production, so it seems like this movie was done as a way to cash in on the upcoming fantasy boom early, like "Dungeons & Dragons" also did in 2000. The sets were laughable at best, especially the Stonehenge set (placed in a valley here... um, did you look at Stonehenge before erecting the set). The sword fight scenes, choreographed by Adrian Paul, looks worse than a group of children playing around. I didn't realize that working on a bad TV show for a few years can make one a fight choreographer.

However, there is one interesting part in this film, that being the forces on the Earth that create and control magic. That was interesting, and I could see some fantasy role playing gamers implementing this in their games. After all, only hard core fantasy film buffs (like myself) and fantasy gamers will suffer through this tripe.

If you need your fantasy film fix and don't want to watch "Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter", watch "Conan, the Barbarian", "The Thirteenth Warrior", "The Mists of Avalon" or "Dragonslayer" instead. I would even watch "Conan, the Destroyer" before watching this again. A major setback for the fantasy film genre.

-Angry Dad "Look, it's internet buffoon, Angry Dad!"- Sideshow Mel
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A superb magical movie!
sarah-hulme20 January 2003
Merlin The Return is a good family film with great special effects!

Rik Mayall plays a very good 'Merlin' and brings a funny element to the film!

It is a good all round film for children of all ages!
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4/10
Awful But Funny - Guinevere in Dreadlocks
Rainey Dawn16 January 2017
A somewhat humorous twist on the tales and legends of King Arthur/Camelot. A late 20th century "mad scientist" of sorts resurrects Guinevere wearing dreadlocks, Merlin and some knights and they must stop Morgana and Mordred from returning.

There are some intentionally funny moments: like Merlin running down the road without pants, the knights being thrown from a diesel truck. Other parts of the film are meant to be taken seriously, I guess, but are funny - unintentionally funny. I would say this film is quite campy.

It's an awful film, but it does make a good comical afternoon matinée. It's a family film so I would recommend keeping that in mind if you decide to watch.

4/10
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4/10
Thank goodness for Rik Mayall!
TheLittleSongbird15 July 2014
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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6/10
By the power of Greysku - Stonehenge! I meant Stonehenge!!
misbegotten19 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
British screenwriter/producer/director Paul Matthews set up his own production company Peakviewing Entertainment in the early Nineties, and started out making low budget horror movies that were filmed in the UK but set in America. By the end of the decade, both Matthews and Peakviewing had graduated to slightly-larger budgeted productions (family films, children's fantasy movies, even a few westerns) that were still British financed, but mostly shot in South Africa.

Written and directed by Matthews, MERLIN: THE RETURN is probably the best known example of Peakviewing's output, and even received a wide cinema release in the UK, opening in over one hundred screens across the country during the Christmas holidays in 2000. Presumably titled to trick audiences into thinking it was a sequel to the internationally acclaimed Hallmark TV mini-series MERLIN (1998) starring Sam Neill, MERLIN: THE RETURN includes an inspired piece of left-field casting (Rik Mayall as Merlin), some familiar B movie faces (Adrian Paul, Craig Sheffer), a couple of former A listers on the slide (Patrick Bergin, Tia Carrere) and assorted unknowns who didn't go on to appear in anything of note (in particular, Julie Hartley as Guinevere).

The plot: approximately 1500 years ago, a final battle at Stonehenge ended with King Arthur (Bergin) and his knights surrounded and vastly outnumbered by Mordred (Sheffer) and his army. With Arthur already badly wounded and left emotionally shattered by Mordred's revelation that Guinevere had been unfaithful with Lancelot (Paul), Merlin desperately used the energy contained within the standing stones to cast a spell that banished Mordred, his followers, Guinevere and Lancelot to a dismal dimension called the Neitherworld. The wizard also placed Arthur and his knights in a deep slumber, from which they would only awaken if Mordred menaced the world again. Cut to the present-day, and Merlin - rendered immortal by magical means - is living as a hermit in a village close to Stonehenge and regarded as a harmless eccentric by the locals. However, a scientist named Maxwell (Carrere) is conducting experiments involving Earth's magnetic field that are weakening the spell keeping Mordred imprisoned in the Neitherworld, and thus also cause Arthur and his knights to awaken. Reunited with his king, Merlin must find a way to prevent Mordred from re-entering our world.

MERLIN: THE RETURN is an entertaining romp, if you're in an undemanding mood, and as a tale of otherworldly warriors continuing their battle on contemporary Earth, it feels like a British version of the live-action MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE movie (1987). The biggest surprise is Rik Mayall, who plays the titular role remarkably straight and emerges as the film's strongest asset. He also gets a great set-piece when Merlin single-handedly wreaks mystical havoc at Maxwell's laboratory. Taking his cue from Mayall, Bergin also takes his role seriously, while clearly being aware of the comedy inherent in having time-displaced, sword-waggling Dark Age warriors let loose in the 21st century. Accordingly, Bergin teases some humour into scenes where Arthur finds himself in unlikely situations - such as Merlin insisting that the best way to contact the Lady of the Lake is for the king to throw himself off a cliff. Adrian Paul came to MERLIN: THE RETURN having spent most of the preceding decade starring in HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES, so playing a sword-welding immortal must have come as second nature to him, and indeed he portrays Lancelot as just another member of the clan MacLeod. But it's a nicely-judged performance that catches exactly the right tone for the film. Julie Hartley makes for a spirited Guinevere, and especially looks the part when she changes into golden chainmail and armour halfway through the film. She also has great chemistry with Mayall - so much so that Guinevere and Merlin feel more like a natural couple than Guinevere does with either Arthur or Lancelot. Sheffer glowers, snarls and barks his way through the role of Mordred, and while he does have some effective moments, he often seems more like a street-corner thug instead of the regal Dark Overlord and potential world-conqueror that he's supposed to be. As Maxwell, Tia Carrere doesn't even try to explore the psyche of someone prepared to sell out the human race for her own narrow-minded personal gain, instead choosing to do just enough to earn her pay cheque, no more.

Although clearly intended to be a family film (Merlin is befriended and aided by two pre-teen children - an English girl and American boy for that all-important trans-Atlantic appeal), MERLIN: THE RETURN contains some surprisingly adult themes: Mordred and his mother Morgana (Grethe Fox) have an openly incestuous relationship; Guinevere's adultery with Lancelot is an important plot-point; Mordred surrounds himself with scantly-clad witches, handmaidens and female warriors (one of the latter is played by Lee-Anne Liebenberg, who went on to the higher profile role of Viper in Neil Marshall's DOOMSDAY) and while jaunting through the Neitherworld, Lancelot & Arthur stumble across the villain's personal harem; and at the film's conclusion, after Mordred has been defeated and Arthur & the knights decide they don't belong in the 21st century and choose to make a new home for themselves in the Neitherworld, they take Maxwell with them as their prisoner (presumably so she can't cause more mischief on Earth) and it's made clear that her future consists solely of being Gawain's unwilling sex slave.

The final credits state that MERLIN: THE RETURN is dedicated to actress Kadamba Simmons, who starred in Paul Matthews' first two movies, GRIM (1995) and BREEDERS (1997, aka DEADLY INSTINCTS), and was tragically murdered, aged just 24, shortly after the second film was completed. Patrick Bergin and Craig Sheffer later both starred in another Peakviewing movie directed by Matthews, a HIGHLANDER-style fantasy called BERSERKER: HELL'S WARRIOR (2004). At the time of writing, BERSERKER remains the last film made by Matthews and/or Peakviewing.
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