Kaamelott: First Installment
The sequel on the big screen to the cult series of Alexandre Astier, an offbeat version of the legend of the Knights of the Round Table. Hidden in Rome, King Arthur plans his comeback to opp... Read allThe sequel on the big screen to the cult series of Alexandre Astier, an offbeat version of the legend of the Knights of the Round Table. Hidden in Rome, King Arthur plans his comeback to oppose the army of his former friend Lancelot.The sequel on the big screen to the cult series of Alexandre Astier, an offbeat version of the legend of the Knights of the Round Table. Hidden in Rome, King Arthur plans his comeback to oppose the army of his former friend Lancelot.
Yet, I'm writing this review right after watching it, because I know that within 24h, memories of it will be gone.
There are several Kaamelotts in Kaamelott : seasons 1 to 4 are shortcom, very dense, and they are responsible for the huge popularity of the show for the french-speaking audience ; seasons 5 and 6 are way more about narration ; the movies, about which we know only one third at the moment.
Not counting spin-offs like comic books.
If, like me, you enjoyed especially the shortcom format, don't expect too much from the movie.
It's always a good thing to see an author extract himself from a format's limitations, and become able to express his view in a wider, more free way. However, it stripped Kaamelott of what made it popular.
This movie has some qualities. For example, the Burgondes are used in a very, very smart way. They are useful to the story, and still keep their comical aspect (like Percival and Karadoc), and even get some nice development.
On the contrary, Lancelot is a complete failure, both writing-wise and acting-wise. He's supposed to be an extremely roughless ruler, but is stepped on in every scene. This character is the biggest failure in the movie, and it's spectacular.
Talking about characters, why create so many new ones, when there's already a plethora of perfectly usable ones ?
Some are really good, well written and performed, such as Leodagan's sister, or the saxon leader (performed by Sting). Most others are completely expandable. Worse, they stand in the way. What is surprising is that their personalities are sometimes a copy-paste of existing characters.
Alexandre Astier is very talented, no question about it. But giving a distinct personality to so many characters turned out to be too ambitious. When a new character speaks, sometimes we don't hear the character, we just hear Astier's writing.
On the other hand, something difficult that was done well is to make this movie a decent stand-alone, while at the same time being the first act of a trilogy.
Costumes will hit you, and give a hard time to your willing suspension of disbelief. These costumes don't belong on a big screen. They belong in a theater festival, in a hot summer evening in Provence.
Let's be nice and call it an artistic choice.
Some shots are visually very well done. Overall, it looks nice. In the desert we're hot, on the sea we shiver. But like basically everything in this movie, quality is uneven.
Same thing for the Fx. With a long format like this, the budget goes up, and you can get a little fancy with special effects. The two characters, Merlin and Elias, who could have taken great advantage of this and shine bright, have not. Maybe in part 2 or 3, but if not that would be such a waste.
Overall, effects are well done, those linked to Excalibur are stunning, coated with the appropriate sound design. But the castle, well, looks like it's from a video game cutscene.
The show has used effects here and there, in a clever way, and there are a bit more than usual, which makes sense. But they didn't go overboard about it, and it's rather a good thing for coherence.
So, as you got it, I was not convinced by the movie. And yet, I wasn't expecting much, I knew it would be closer to the later seasons than to the earlier ones.
It's average, like the 5/10 stars mark, and at least one of those stars was granted out of pure nostalgia.
It's average, but not in a flat boring way. It's average as a balance between the well thought well executed ideas, and the opposite. It's Alexandre Astier's first movie, and it shows.
Several times, I thought about leaving the theater, but after so many years waiting for it, it was only fair to give it a whole chance and not interrupt it before it was done saying what it had to say. It turned out to be a good idea, since the most iconic shots are in the last part.
In the end, I wouldn't watch it again in a theater. I will watch parts 2 and 3, but I will do so on TV, even if it means in a decade. And I will probably be doing something else at the same time.
- Aug 27, 2021