Excalibur - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Excalibur Reviews

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½ November 28, 2016
87%
Watched this on 28/11/16
Who would have guessed that the Arthurian tale was so sorroful and tragic? This is by far the most intriguing take on the legend that I have ever seen. It benefits from terrific visuals, cinematography, infuriating music and much more.Though it has a lot of Irish actors who would become famous in the years that followed, the acting department is generally week barring Nicol Williamson as Merlin. There is enough magic, dread and heart in this tale to make it memorable. The sword could be seen as the real hero here or more accurately it's writer director John Boorman himself as the film neither tries to focus too much on any of its characters nor does it try and glorify.
½ September 13, 2016
There have been some bad movies based on Arthurian legend. Add this one to the list. It may actually be the worst. At times it was so bad that I wondered if it was meant to be a parody. An outdated and terrible movie. (First and only viewing - 9/13/2016)
August 19, 2016
one of my favorites of all time. it has legend, acting, great props and setting and direction is awesome. a great watch. no movie is perfect, but this one has so many highs they more than forgive a few lows, but that's up to you to decide. the words honor, just, loyalty, integrity are fading from society now, this brings me back to a time when those words meant something.
August 17, 2016
looks great but i dunno who's to blame for the acting? the actors or the script..
½ August 10, 2016
Visually stunning (sets, costumes, stunts), with a great cast, but there are some weaknesses in the directing, as everything looks overly acted and some scenes feel clumsy. For a 140 minutes-long movie, there are surprisingly few explanations and character development. Many of the supporting characters are barely named in passing. Transitions from different parts of the movie often occur with little to no context, which impairs the understanding of the storyline.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2016
Another adaptation of Thomas Malory's book. Filmed in Ireland, the true birthplace of the Celtic legends that led to the tales of Arthur and his knights. Director/writer/producer John Boorman's film captures the gritty existence, magic of nature, celebratory victories, and shadowy mysteries of loss found in the ancient legends. Much content from Arthur's father Uther to the destruction of the round table is packed into the 2 hour and 20 minute run time. I loved the selection of interior and exterior scenery as well as the costumes including personalized armor for each knight. In the early 80s many in the cast were unknown to American audiences, but would soon become recognized names and faces. Some of the cast are still not familiar to me watching this in 2016, so the dramatic scenes unfold more organically than through star power. I especially enjoyed Nicol Williamson's portrayal of Merlin, who I had seen in a couple other films. This movie restores the epic mythical scale of the adventure that other movie versions have not been able to convey. The movie technically is a little dated to the 1980s, but it so often succeeds in carrying you back to a Britain with mainly Pagan beliefs, a place of developing individual heroes, a place where a dragon represented everywhere and everything, was immanent in the world. It is full of excitement and mystery!
July 5, 2016
Excalibur is one of my favourite films. Boorman's version is 'of a time,' but even today this version is still the definitive screen version of the story of King Arthur. The casting is prophetic. Nicol Williamson, starring as Merlin, was already known as one of the greatest actors of his time. We didn't know it yet, but cast members Gabriel Byrne, Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart were destined for greatness. Ireland provided the surreal environment, becoming a character itself. Boorman's dream-like imagery challenged and redefined how people now see Arthurian legend.

Some reports are that Boorman had actually intended to shoot Lord of the Rings, but Ralph Bakshi secured the rights instead (and later released his animated version.) So Boorman simply repurposed the design and pre-production intended for Tolkien. I think it's interesting that in Excalibur we may also be getting a glimmer into an alternate universe how Boorman's Lord of the Rings might have looked.
½ July 4, 2016
Epic fantasy that holds up as one of the best, particularly in how to do it for adults. The cast is superb and a who's who of future stars, from Patrick Stewart to Ciaran Hinds. The scene stealer is NIcol Williamson as Merlin, whose mischievous & wise depiction is probably the best ever put of the character on screen. The real star is director John Boorman, who manages to cover the entire Arthurian legend from Uther to Mordred in just over two hours without skimping on anything. The battles are brilliantly choreographed & brutal (it's surprising this film was originally rated PG), and Boorman doesn't shy from the darker aspects of the legend, from Guinevere's affair with Lancelot to Arthur's incest with his sister, Morgana. In many ways, this film shows how ancient fantasy actually predates the themes now popular in "Game of Thrones". While some aspects are a bit dated (some of the acting is a bit over-the-top, along with some of the visual effects), this is one of the finest fantasy films ever produced, along with being the best film version of the King Arthur legend to date.
½ May 29, 2016
A fairly epic bore with a strange cast. Patrick Stewart surprised me as he seemed to be quite the rugged warrior. I was also very surprised by the use of a real south west England village idiot to play the part of King Arthur.
April 16, 2016
Good visual effects for it's day.

Adventures of a King in a time of turmoil.
Super Reviewer
½ February 3, 2016
Set in the wilds of Ireland and with a pretty full cast of Irish actors which set in motion the careers of both Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne whilst also utilizing some classic/cult British names for spice.

Like Robin Hood there are many stories of the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the round table but this film is probably the most accurate in terms of an adaptation from original writings. This film is based around the tales from 'Le Morte d'Arthur' and seems to follow each 'segment' quite closely (haven't read it so I'm not sure).

The overall essence of this film is like a fairytale of sorts, a kind of slightly cheesy shiny armoured fantasy with glittery sets, soft colours, strong religious/iconic imagery and a 'Clannad' vibe running through it. The film reminded me of the classic British TV series 'Robin of Sherwood' which also starred the dastardly Robert Addie and the classic British fantasy film 'Krull', I think the latter took inspiration from the look of 'Excalibur'.

The design and look of this film is really very good, its clearly rather dated but it still has a high polish to it and looks quite epic. The locations are really well used and do give an impression of old medieval England and the costumes all make the sale. Of course this being the 80's the armour does look a bit fake, plastic and too shiny in places, there is a kind of music video feel to the proceedings in places, some sets look a bit too sparkly, some characters have some dubious haircuts and to be utterly honest the acting/dialog is pretty hilarious in places but you can't deny the effort and scope of this historical fantasy.

This being in the days before CGI and when historical epics were all the rage the battle sequences here are small with some blood and minimal gore. You can easily tell they didn't have allot of people to make grand battles so clever editing is used with lots of darkness and fog, luckily Old England was a foggy place...or so I've been led to believe. The other slightly amusing thing was the soundtrack, there was original work here but the use of classical pieces slapped on top of key moments didn't really work. The combination of certain scenes and certain pieces of music felt very rickety and really did seem crowbarred in badly, you can see what the director was going for but it comes off more like something out of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'.

The plot is straight forward and it doesn't get dull despite the heavy romance of the tales, the film is rich and vivid in design and imagery giving the whole production much flare and class which works brilliantly because you know these were the days when everything was hand crafted. The film is a cult classic with a powerful poster that demands your attention, oh and Nicol Williamson as Merlin is also another good reason to view with his unique quirky take on the character spouting some glorious moments, 'oh that's grand'.
½ January 26, 2016
Excalibur is a fairly faithful if heavily abbreviated, retelling of Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. The visuals are directly from Victorian romanticized depictions of Arthurian myth, and the Wagnerian soundtrack fits that perfectly. The visuals are certainly the strongest part of this film. The whole things is beautifully lit, and the costumes and sets are gorgeous. The one thing that is not romanticized is the violence, which is quite graphic in places, so this is probably not one for young children. While the film is studded with excellent actors, it has come in for criticism for thin characterization and bad dialogue. It's true that the characters are more broad archetypes than believable human beings, but, as with Wagnerian opera, that is really just in the nature of this type of story. Likewise the high-flown dialogue is rather to be expected from this sort of thing, even if it does feel a bit leaden at times. Those weaker aspects of the film not withstanding, Excalibur is a visual feast and certainly one of the better attempts to commit the legend of King Arthur to the big screen.
January 14, 2016
One of the worst films I have ever seen. Very poor, forced acting and cheap special effects. Will never watch again.
December 30, 2015
Visually the movie is very impressive but the awful dialogue and poor storytelling hurt it badly. This never felt like one movie but parts of a movie, it clearly needed at least an hour more to completely tell its story. At times the movie felt like a mix of Italian soap opera and soft porn.
½ December 24, 2015
One of my favorites!!!
September 25, 2015
One of my favorite movies! One of the first movies I saw in the theaters. Saw it early this morning (August 20, 2012). I haven't seen the new version, but I'm still curious to see.
½ August 1, 2015
Highly stylized and gruesome retelling of the legend of King Arthur. See Patrick Stewart in his pre-Star Trek days and also a young Helen Mirren as the evil Morgana and a young Liam Neeson as Sir Gawain.
July 7, 2015
This is probably one of the first movies I watched more than once.... however, I was quite young when it came out (11) and was intrigued with the fact that I didn't recognize any of the actors, so I couldn't place them in any other films. That fact made it so I could put myself in the "world of the movie" (so to speak).

Well, since then, I no longer enjoy the movie as much due to the fact that it's just kind of silly, and of course Capt. Picard is in it. LOL... it was an interesting watch though when I first saw it.
June 3, 2015
This is one of those films that, the more I watched it, the more I like it. Aside from some of its cheesiest dialogue and over the top performances. I did dig the story a lot. It has a very dark tone element into it with this very dark fantasy. The story is about the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, a Merlin legend which tells the life story of King Arthur and his Excalibur. And two of my favorite stars are here, the young Liam Neeson as Gawain and Helen Mirren as Morgana. I never thought Archeptolemus from the film Troy (2004) is the King Arthur (Nigel Terry) I thought he was fantastic in this film. And Cherie Lunghi as Guenevere, I thought she is one hot Queen. John Boorman, known as a narrative director in terms of film making. I like how he turned this one into a very dark but beautifully filmed movie. I can still remember the beautiful film locations, the beautiful forests, the huge castle and its lakes, the swampy areas, and the visually stunning landscapes. It has a great production value over all. Those swords and those elegant armors. Another fantastic epic that we will never forget. 4/5
Super Reviewer
½ May 1, 2015
Boorman crams enough material for two movies into one, which is why it's a mess, but the film is still visually inventive and highly entertaining. Despite it's problems, I wish studios would be willing to still make fantasy films as unapologetically weird as "Excalibur".
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