Arthur & Merlin (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 15-Feb-2017

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Trailer-x 4 for other Eagle Entertainment releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 108:41
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Marco van Belle
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Kirk Barker
Stefan Butler
Nigel Cooke
David Sterne
Charlotte Brimble
Adrian Bouchet
Nicholas Asbury


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Graham Plowman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† With a title like Arthur & Merlin one could be forgiven for expecting another variation upon the Round Table / Camelot / Excalibur legends. But Arthur & Merlin has no noble knights, no Round Table, no search for the Holy Grail, no love triangle and while there is a sword with magical powers it is not called Excalibur and it was not found stuck in a stone. Indeed, the main characters are not called Arthur and Merlin but Arthfael and Myrrdin, and the film is a fantasy adventure about an exiled warrior saving Celtic Britain from destruction at the hands of an evil Druid and a dark god.

†††† The film starts with the birth of a child. Myrrdin is born to a virgin mother in a small Celtic village in Britain; he has on his face the magic mark of the Tuadaan, the gods of light who had been in perpetual conflict with the gods of darkness until both sets of gods left the Earth for the underworld. Seven years after his birth the village crops are failing so the villagers petition King Vortigern (David Sterne) for help. The King sends the powerful Druid Aberthol (Nigel Cooke), who arrives and determines that a human sacrifice is needed to return the village to the older, dark gods. Myrrdin is chosen but he escapes into an enchanted forest from which no man has emerged alive. Unharmed, he finds a cave with runes on its walls and hides.

†††† Fast forward fifteen years. The Saxons have invaded England and are driving the Celts back. Aberthol now has the old and infirm King Vortigern completely under his spell and he orders the Celts into suicidal attacks against the Saxons where many are killed. Arthfael (Kirk Barker) is a warrior leader who opposes Aberthol. While saving a woman from Abertholís men, in a creek he finds a sword which allows him to see visions of Abertholís true purpose. He seeks to expose Aberthol but is exiled; a vision from the sword leads him to travel across the land to the enchanted forest to seek out Myrrdin (Stefan Butler), all the time pursued by Abertholís men led by Lucan (Adrian Bouchet). Meanwhile, back in the Kingís camp, Vortigernís ward Olwen (Charlotte Brimble) tries to bring the king to his senses which puts her in danger from Aberthol.

†††† Arthfael meets Myrrdin and persuades him to return with him to oppose Aberthol; along the way they are attacked by Lucan and his men and receive help from Olwenís uncle Orin (Nicholas Asbury); can they arrive in time to stop Aberthol bringing a dark god up from the underworld which will lead to the destruction of the Celts?

†††† Arthur & Merlin is the first feature by director / co-writer Marco van Belle. The film is a low budget fantasy sword and sorcery adventure which owes more to The Lord of the Rings, both novels and films, than to the Arthur legends. Thus in Arthur & Merlin we have a King Theoden type figure, a king made feeble by an advisor with special powers while a young woman tries to make him see reason, and the film features sweeping camera moves of our heroes running across the landscape accompanied by epic, swelling music. After that, however, the comparison fades as Arthur & Merlin does not have the budget for decent sets or action scenes; the fights consist of jerky, hand held close-ups of various people swinging swords and other weapons around. It is passable and rather inoffensive and, except in one instance, not bloody and gory, so the film while rated M is suitable for most audiences who would be drawn to the fantasy / sword and sorcery subject matter.

†††† Arthur & Merlin does provide some beautiful atmospheric widescreen photography of the English forests, caves and fens courtesy of cinematographer Phil Wood, while Kirk Barker has a decent presence and Nigel Cooke is a suitably evil villain. I suppose that Arthur & Merlin intends to tell the earlier dark age story of the young Arthur and Merlin, a story before the tales of chivalry and the mythmaking of Malory and his Le Morte díArthur. This is a credible intention although it is somewhat undermined by the appearance of a god (courtesy of CGI) in the plot. The end credits provide the alternative title Arthur & Merlin: The Legend Begins which suggests that more adventures of Arthfael and Myrrdin could be on the way.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Arthur & Merlin is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† This is a good looking print. Except for the softness created by the swaying camera during the fight sequences, detail is firm. Colours are natural showing the beauty of the English landscapes, blacks are rock solid and shadow detail very good. Brightness and contrast are consistent, skin tones natural except where they show that digital yellowness under lights. I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

††††There are no subtitles provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† The only audio choice is English DTS-HD MA 5.1.

†††† The audio was fine; it is reasonably enveloping without being anything special. Dialogue is always clear. The rears and surrounds feature ambient effects, clashes and yells during fights, and the epic score by Graham Plowman. The sub-woofer provided minor support to the music and action.

†††† There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers

†††† Trailers for Mythica: A Quest for Heroes (2:20), Android (2:06), Bravetown (2:34) and Mythica: The Darkspore (1:40), play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††††While Amazon.com lists USA and UK DVDs of Arthur & Merlin I cannot at this time find any other Blu-ray release.

Summary

†††† Arthur & Merlin presents a Celtic fantasy world with tongue twisting names for gods and swords that make little sense to me; I have no idea if these are made up or not and a quick check on Google has not made things any clearer. This is not the usual Arthur legends but if you come to the film with limited expectations and accept Arthur & Merlin as a good looking fantasy adventure it is entertaining enough.

†††† The video and audio are fine; there are no extras except trailers for other films, but ours is the only Blu-ray release of the film at present.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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