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Between our quests/ we sequin vests... - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
Between our quests/ we sequin vests...
Saturday turned out to be one of those days when nothing comes off right. Didn't get to the library in time to do more than drop what was going back, missed getting to a movie by the length of time it would have taken to find a parking space, and went all the way over to pam & spot's pinball party only to discover that the address and their contact # were in Mum's other purse, which was back at our house. And then tried for another showing of the same movie only to get shut out of that too... {sigh} Sunday went a little better when we managed to find our way to ilwitchgrrl & ojdorson's baby shower in Hammond without incident and almost on time as well. On the way home from that I did consider attending rollick's showtunes outing, but as we swung past the venue I got a distinct "I am way underdressed for this" vibe (not to mention that I had half the menu from the baby shower on my pants), so Mum and I decided to head for another try at the movie again instead.

So we finally made it to see Gladiator 2, err, King Arthur, and that intro will suggest what I found to be the primary flaw of this film: beyond the names, there wasn't really any reason to call this film King Arthur as opposed to letting the script stand on its own as a random period-piece. Granted, there have been stranger productions put out under the Arthurian banner, such as Boorman's "will act for drugs" extravaganza or the inexplicable First Knight, but as an attempt at portraying the Dark Ages figure(s) who may have inspired the later story-cycles, this effort falls well short.

The film opens with a short sequence establishing the conceit that Roman commander Arthur is leading a band of mounted warriors from the province of Sarmatia. {Pause for readers to mutter, "WTF...?!?} I have no idea how the filmmakers arrived at this conclusion, but what the hell, at least it wasn't aliens. (And I swear I've read that one at least once in this field.) First Epic Battle Sequence ensues: Briton raid on Roman caravan escorting new bishop to Arthur's digs up at Hadrian's Wall, during which we are introduced to the Bruckheimer versions of Arthur, Lancelot, Gawain, Tristan, Bors, Galahad, and Dagonet, who as an Obscure Character the audience immediately recognizes will inevitably die a tragically heroic death saving the rest of the knights at some point in this movie. (Never wear a red shirt and never take the role that hasn't got a Famous Name, you see.) Bors is the only one of the band to stand out in any way, because he is bald and he has all the good lines.

The new bishop inevitably turns out to be a sleazy dude; offended that Arthur, while nominally Christian, is a follower of the heretical peacenik Pelagius, the bishop attempts to stiff Arthur's men out of their formal discharges. The men had been looking forward to going home to Sarmatia, you see (!), and are not pleased to hear that Rome has one last suicide mission for them before they'll be allowed to retire. But the Saxons are marching, north of the Wall, and in their path lies the villa of some important Roman administrator or other (why this guy is out north of the Wall, who the hell knows); said administrator and his son must be fetched back to the "safety" of Rome. Grumbling, Arthur's band heads north.

Meanwhile, back at the Saxon ranch, the Saxon war-leader and his sidekick, Baldie son of Gloin, are preparing to roll southward over the Roman administrator. Will Arthur's knights get there in time?

They do, of course, and here is where the movie starts really going off the rails. Roman administrator turns out to be a right bastard who's been torturing his Briton serfs in the name of Jesus. Arthur Takes Charge of the situation, frees some political prisoners (including Gratuitously Hawwt Chick Guinevere), and decides to drag the whole stinking lot of everyone south with his band as everyone reminds him repeatedly that the Saxons are just over the next ridge by this point. Oh, did I mention that Tristan has a tame eagle? Right, then, Tristan has a tame eagle, who has evidently given Tristan this piece of intelligence. Southward they go, knights, serfs, Roman administrator, and all.

Marching through the snowy woods ensues. Lancelot spies on Guinevere bathing. Guinevere lures Arthur to a meeting with the Merlin, who appears to be the go-to guy for the Britons, and A Few Things Are Sort Of Explained. Sort Of. (I will award them a Cool Point for putting an Ogham inscription on Excalibur's blade, though.)

The rag-tag fleet must cross a frozen river in a narrow valley. AUDIENCE: Oo, betcha this is where the Saxons catch up to them! And look, it's Baldie son of Gloin! Arthur sends the refugees on ahead and makes his stand, eight against the eight hundred in the valley of -- um, wrong epic poem, sorry. Ahem. Arrows are traded in a sequence that was giving me severe flashbacks to the bit in Braveheart where the Scots turned around and mooned the English, but alas, mooning as political commentary hadn't been invented yet, and it's time for Obscure Character Dagonet to meet his inevitable and heroic end, in a rather cool scene that's easily the best thing in the film, for what that's worth. Baldie son of Gloin curses and goes off to take the long way round to the Wall as the refugees escape.

The bishop is surprised to see the knights back from the suicide mission, but offers them their papers. Bors angsts about Dagonet's unclaimed discharge. Someone drags Bors off for a stiff drink. On their way out, Lancelot nicks the box the discharge papers came in. Audience giggles.

Meanwhile, back at the Saxon ranch, the Saxon war-leader is disappointed that Baldie son of Gloin has slunk back empty-handed, but since they're nearly at Hadrian's Wall anyhow, they decide that they may as well just go have their Epic Battle Sequence anyway. On the other side of the Wall the Romans are busily buggering off before the Saxons can get themselves organized. Guinevere decides that this would be an opportune moment to throw in the Inevitable Shagging Scene.

In the morning, Arthur is up early, riding around on his horse with a banner that might as well say, "I GOT SOME LAST NIGHT!" The puzzled knights grumble amongst themselves when it becomes apparent that this means Arthur is not going to bugger off south with the rest of the Romans and serfs and hangers-on. But hey, Arthur's generally been right about stuff before, so the knights stay with him to make a stand against the Saxons.

Epic Battle Sequence ensues. People die. I think Arthur wins, but by that point I had stopped caring. The Merlin officiates at Arthur and Guinevere's wedding, Arthur is proclaimed King, Bors gets in one last good line, and the Audience runs for the bathrooms. The End.

So, um, what did any of this really have to do with King Arthur, you say? Good question. If the underlying script had been more coherent, one could probably have pulled a decent movie out of the rubble here, maybe even one that came across as a convincing conjecture on the sort of historical figure who might have inspired such enduring legends, but as it stands, this isn't even a particularly noteworthy non-Arthur film, much less any addition to the existing body of literature on the subject. Ah, well. On to I, Robot next week to see what kind of a hash they've made of that...

Workmen still haven't showed up to address the closet question. Bah.

Readers: have you posted your clues to my "guess who?" entry yet? I'm still pondering a couple of the contestants...


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