Merlin: The Return

Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Rik Mayall, Tia Carrere, Patrick Bergin, Adrian Paul

Director: Paul Matthews

A sword and sorcery adventure that starts in the past and mixed with some time travel sci-fi, moves into present time.

King Arthur (Patrick Bergin) and his Knights of the Round Table are losing their battle against the evil magic of Mordred (Craig Sheffer) and his followers. Merlin (Rik Mayall) casts a spell that transports the two opposing sides to be imprisoned in another dimension where they remain for 1500 years until a scientist, Joan Maxwell (Tia Carrera), in our time, makes contact with Mordred, and in exchange for the promise of unlimited power, works to free him into the present.

Meanwhile King Arthur and his knights have also broken free and are coming to terms with what they believe to be monsters and their offspring, big trucks and cars, and other elements of modern day life.

Merlin it seems lives in a small village and is regarded as an eccentric by the locals, and is trying to stop Mordred from breaking free. Lancelot (Adrian Paul) and Guinevere (Julie Hartley) are trapped with Mordred and are trying to help Merlin from inside Mordred’s camp.

Also throw into the mix a young boy Ritchie (Byron Taylor) and his mother (Jennifer Steyn), who have relocated from the States to the same English village where Merlin is living, and a young girl in the village whose mother is a psychic medium, who is being unwittingly used by the scientist to help free Mordred.

You’ve probably guessed that this movie is not aimed primarily at adults but more towards children, and at a guess I’d say aged six to about twelve would be the ideal age group to appreciate it. The film lasts an hour and a half and there’s enough action through most of it to keep its target group glued to the screen, with a bit of a slowdown in the middle when they may get a little fidgety.

Sure there are some flaws in the movie, in fact it’s a long way from perfect in places and Ritchie’s mother really couldn’t have done a worse American accent if she had tried, but visually the portrayal of the sword and sorcery side of this is near excellent and the costumes in particular are extremely good.

Certainly parents taking their children to the movie will be pleased to see the very attractive Julie Hartley playing Guinevere and Adrian Paul should keep the ladies happy. Rik Mayall is also well cast as Merlin. I couldn’t quite believe though how underused Adrian Paul is, particularly as his name is near the top of the cast, fans will know him better as TV’s HIGHLANDER and this is an actor that is right on the brink of international mega-stardom given the right part. The credits reveal he actually did the sword fight coordination, another thing he obviously excels at.

All in all, not a bad movie to take your kids to as long as they fit the age group and are not too easily frightened.

3 out of 6 stars