Excalibur - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Excalibur Reviews

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February 27, 2018
A lengthy film that covers the vast majority of the King Arthur myth. A few changes have been made to make it flow better but it does have an episodic "and then" feel to it. What I do really appreciate this is that even though these men are heroes, they are very much flawed. They fight, they argue, insult and lust after each other's wives. Some of them would be considered complete a-holes. While it may be difficult to like a certain character, they are undoubtedly human. Worth checking out.
January 14, 2018
Superbly set. Excellent locations and cinematography. Very credible supernatural mood. A gem.
December 6, 2017
The best film on King Arthur hands down. Visual art.
October 27, 2017
great movie I was really surprised how much I like it
August 6, 2017
This amazing adaptation of the King Arthur legend may be my favorite.
½ August 5, 2017
Opulent indeed. Very weird. Perhaps done i 81 for and by stoners?
Clunky chrome knights' armor beautiful but ridiculous. Very surreal. Interesting to see a much younger sexy Helen Mirrenj. I would give it higher than 2 1/5 stars, but it is so laughable and melodromatic inparts.Takes itself very seriously.
½ June 6, 2017
Excalibur is majestic 80s cheese: great looking production, fever dream-like visuals, well-told & sincere melodramatics, acting that ranges from silly to downright awful (I'm looking at you, Merlin), and broadly Shakespearean dialogue. With more in common with Game of Thrones than Sword in the Stone, it's probably the most mature and brutal of all the Arthurian legends, and it just plain works.
May 25, 2017
Absolutely fantastic! Watched again for the first time in a while and was stunned by what a great film Excalibur is. The casting, the scenery, everything. Started and just couldn't stop until the end. Bravo, John Boorman!
½ May 20, 2017
As movies about King Arthur go, John Boorman's stylish adaptation of 'Le Morte D'Arthur' is nopareil. The mythology of Camelot is itself steeped in romantic tragedy but this passionate and enchanting film treatment weaves a spell from beginning to end. To some cynics this all may come off like a rather lavish excercise in early '80s soft-porn fantasy but what a fantasy it is!
May 11, 2017
Excalibur is a heady hit off of the Wagnerian bong of High Fantasy! Gorgeous visions of enchanted deeds are unleashed upon the mind by a world-weary, funnyman kingmaker, the fantastic Nicol Williamson as the Merlin for the ages. This is simply the best Arthurian movie off and for all time. There is a power to its Wagner and Orff infused imagery which is impossible, for me, to deny.
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2017
Excalibur is probably the King Arthur film that most ambitiously tackles the in-depth mythology and legend of the medieval warrior, which is both a good and bad thing.

Let's start with the good. This film is a fascinating dive into the ins and outs of Arthurian Legend, starting with the mystical sword, Excalibur. Sometimes the most interesting way to tell a story isn't through your characters but a representation of their strengths and weaknesses. Excalibur is just that for Arthur. He relies on the sword for strength and wisdom, which in turn is his weakness. The power the sword yields him is bigger than Arthur himself, which is where he can sometimes fall victim to the temptations of greed and self-value. At the same time, the sword is easily the films coolest asset.

For the first hour or so, it gets increasingly harder to root for Arthur as a character. Here's a guy who stumbles upon power and acts like he's worked his whole life to get it, and he's hardly humble about his circumstances. It isn't until we realize where the story is going and who the main antagonist is that our protagonist (being Arthur) really hits the right note. All of a sudden, a whiny and largely unworthy King, feels noble and brave through the faults of the villain. It is then that the film takes off to an exciting, but equally strange place.

This version of the King Arthur story isn't afraid of embracing the fantasy elements and downright weirdness of the source material. Not only do you have Merlin, the great wizard, manipulating certain situations in the background, but you have plenty of other mystical elements enhanced to fit the story that director John Boorman was trying to tell. With that said, when the film does tackle the mystical side of the story it doesn't always feel in place with the rest of the grounded war film that's in its place. So in that regard, I have mixed feelings on it.

However, in all, this is about as good as you can tell the proper Arthurian story. It has everything from a brilliant focus on the sword, Lancelot's jealousy and betrayal, a twisted backstory, Merlin pulling the strings, bloody battles, to an overall epic journey for the King. If there was a film that epitomizes all that is good (and strange) about the mythology, Excalibur is probably it.

+Crazy mythology embraced



+Even dives into the strangeness

-Which is where it sometimes takes the film off the rails

½ May 4, 2017
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)
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2017
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 utilising 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 period text. This film is based around the tales from [i]Le Morte d'Arthur[/i] 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 [i]Clannad[/i] 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 visual aspect of 'Excalibur', possibly.

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 really give an authentic feel, an solid impression of old medieval England complete with excellent costumes. Of course this being the 80's the armour does look a bit fake, a bit plastic, flimsy and too shiny in places. There is also 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 and 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 when historical epics were all the rage, the battle sequences are small with some blood and minimal gore. You can easily tell they didn't have a big crew to make such 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 is original work here but the use of classical pieces slapped on top of key sequences didn't really work (for me at least). 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 a parody of sorts, something not too dissimilar from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'.

The plot is straight forward and it doesn't become dull despite the heavy romance involved. The film is layered and rich, vivid imagery and beautiful design giving the whole production much flare and class. It all works pretty flawlessly because you know these were the days when everything was hand crafted.

The film is a cult classic with a bitchin' powerful poster that demands your attention (it draws you in). On a final note, the acting in general may be acceptable but Nicol Williamson's Merlin is also another good reason to see this film. A truly unique quirky take on the character spouting some glorious lines, 'oh that's grand'.
March 23, 2017
Myth, legend, warriors and magic. What's not to love? Boorman does a great job of mixing them all together. Usually I hate these types of movies. But this is one of my all time favorites.
½ February 4, 2017
If you want an enchanting, mystical, visually stunning and passionate take on the Arthurian legend, this is the only place to go!
½ November 28, 2016
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.
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!
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