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QUEST FOR CAMELOT

by: Scott Renshaw

There are plenty of good reasons why I try to write reviews as soon as possible after seeing a film.  Some are purely practical, like the deadlines that stack up one against the other as Friday release-date approaches; some are philosophical, like the desire not to be influenced by any other opinions I might hear.  QUEST FOR CAMELOT has provided me with yet another reason, perhaps the best yet -- when you're dealing with a film as hopelessly bland as this one, you'll be lucky if you can remember a single detail 48 hours later.

Thank heaven for press notes, without which I might not recall that QUEST FOR CAMELOT is the story of Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig), a strong-willed young woman in the time of King Arthur.  It seems that a cruel and ambitious knight named Sir Ruber (Gary Oldman) has stolen Excalibur from Arthur (Pierce Brosnan), then promptly lost the magical sword in a dark and dangerous forest.  In an attempt to prove herself worthy of knighthood and to help save her kidnapped mother (Jane Seymour), Kayley ventures into the forest alone, where she eventually joins up with a blind young man named Garrett (Cary Elwes) and a two-headed dragon named Devon (Eric Idle) and Cornwall (Don Rickles).  Together they must battle the dangers of the forest, find Excalibur, defeat Ruber, restore order to the kingdom, blah blah blah.

And I do mean "blah."  QUEST FOR CAMELOT is one of the most ennervated animated films in recent memory, a lifeless conglomeration of elements each more instantly forgettable than the last.  Visually, it offers uninspired settings and lackluster character design until the appearance of a nifty computer-generated ogre.  The comic relief isn't much of a relief at all, serving up a volley of pop culture pot shots (TAXI DRIVER, DIRTY HARRY, FRIDAY THE 13TH, SUPERMAN), banal bickering between the dragon's two heads and cringe-inducing voice casting like Bronson Pinchot and Jaleel White.  Of course we also need to have songs, which means a truly awful bunch of David Foster/Carol Bayer Sager compositions alternating between middle-of-the-road piffle and soporific show-stoppers.  Director Frederik DuChau can't even manage to get his voice talent to sound vaguely enthusiastic; Brosnan reads the legendary King of the Britons as though he needs a Prozac far more than he needs Excalibur.

QUEST FOR CAMELOT's story seems well-intentioned enough, empowering its misfit heroes despite the various obstacles to success they face. Unfortunately, that's about all the story offers.  The film moves with a deadening listlessness, as DuChau bungles the few genuine bits of action with bizarre decisions like scoring a tense chase scene to the big love ballad.  The choice of Elwes as the voice of Kayley's guide through the forest proves to be a huge mistake, reminding viewers familiar with THE PRINCESS BRIDE of Westley's infinitely more engaging romantic adventures through the Fire Swamp with Buttercup.  Eventually, the failure of the rest of the story makes even the empowerment message annoying, playing like an anachronistic scolding of the Round Table for including only fully-abled white male humans. 

As I vainly searched for something to hold my attention, I kept noticing the children in the theater wandering up and down the aisles, or engaged in conversations far more lively than anything on the screen.  I can't imagine why a parent would subject their children to being bored silly by a film like QUEST FOR CAMELOT, especially when adults will probably be bored even sillier.  Then again, I suppose there would be a bright side:  two days later, they'll never even remember what they had to sit through.

On the Renshaw scale of 0 to 10 Arthur wrecks:  2.

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