Merlin: The Return (1999)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Credits
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 87:46
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Paul Matthews
Peakviewing Trans.
MRA Entertainment
Starring Rik Mayall
Tia Carrere
Patrick Bergin
Adrian Paul
Craig Sheffer
Julie Hartley
Leigh Greyvenstein
Grethe Fox
Byron Taylor
Jennifer Steyn
Anthony Bishop
Lynne White
Jocelyn Broderick
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Mark Thomas

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This is definitely a bad 'Z' grade telemovie, one for the children on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Paul Matthews will not win any awards for his direction of this piece.

     The plot is basically that King Arthur and his knights were in a battle against Mordred and his army which culminated in a stand-off at Stonehenge. Merlin tries to hold Mordred at bay using his magic but Mordred has in his possession the fabled sword known as Excalibur which renders Merlin's magic useless. Just when all seems lost Lancelot grabs Excalibur from Mordred's hand and thrusts it into one of the stones at Stonehenge which banishes Mordred and his army along with Lancelot and Queen Guinevere into another dimension where they remain for the next 1500 years. This same act also places King Arthur and his knights in a state of suspended animation until Mordred and his army find a way back to the real world.

     The story then picks up in the present where a young boy arrives with his mother to live in a small English village with his grandmother. He soon strikes up a friendship with a young girl whose mother is a medium. The girl's mother is being used by a scientist to make contact with Mordred and to develop a plan to bring Mordred and his army back from the other dimension to take over the world. Somehow through all of this Merlin has managed to live in the real world for the past 1500 years and is now living in the same village as the two children. The children find out about the plan to bring back Mordred and they team up with Merlin to prevent it from happening.

     In all, the idea behind this movie is not too bad but the acting is terrible, the special effects are cheesy, and the whole movie is poorly structured. This looked more like a first attempt at producing a movie by a high school media class than a serious production.

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Transfer Quality


    This was obviously taken from video stock and there were some resultant  transfer problems as I have noted below.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.29:1 and is thus not 16x9 enhanced.

    The video can be soft in some scenes and shadow detail is definitely lacking. There was no graininess present in the movie.

    Colours were vibrant and generally quite good. I did not notice any colour bleeding.

    The video suffers greatly from MPEG compression artefacts throughout the entire movie. There are also analogue tracking errors which can be seen as a warbling effect along the top edge of the video and noticeably at 54:39 where the video briefly displays a band of distortion.

    There were no subtitles available for viewing with this movie.

    This was a single layered transfer hence there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    We are presented with only one choice for the audio track here and that is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) track. It is surround encoded.

    The dialogue is reasonably clear. However in some scenes, notably those that portray Mordred being channelled through the medium, the audio can be a little difficult to understand. I did not experience any lip sync issues.

    The music score for the movie can be a little unbalanced at times. A few times there I reached for the remote to turn down the volume as the music became quite loud and instead of enhancing the video it made itself the dominant feature. Mark Thomas has composed a number of music scores for other movies, and is probably more noted for his score for the movie Dog Soldiers and for the music score to the series Raging Planet. He has a classical background and the music score in this movie tends to show this as it is predominantly orchestral.

    The surrounds were used primarily to play the music score.

    The subwoofer was used but not as effectively as you would expect from this kind of audio track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    I am not sure that I would consider the closing credits as an extra. Personally, I found this to be rather bizarre. I guess if for some reason you want to play just the closing credits of this movie then you have that option.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what I have been able to read about the R1 version of this movie the R4 version misses out on two extras, a filmography and a trailer. Although the R1 version does have a couple of additional extras of doubtful worth I think the R4 version will win in the video transfer area due to it being in PAL rather than NTSC.


    A strange twist on the King Arthur theme, primarily aimed at children. However, I am not sure that today's children will find enough in the movie to keep their interest. Overall a mediocre offering with the video and audio transfers.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Paul Svensen (So you have nothing else to do but to read my bio)
Monday, February 27, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880DX upscaling player, Samsung DVD-HD747 player, Pioneer DV-535 player, Toshiba D-R1-S-TG , using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE700 WXGA LCD Projector, 102" 16:9 Grandview motorised screen, Panasonic TH-42PV500A HD Plasma Display, Toshiba 83 cm 4:3 CRT. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderDenon AVR-2802. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete plus Sansui two channel amplifier driving Back Surrounds
Speakers Fronts, Centre, and Back Surrounds - Accusound Ref 8 speakers with 150W RMS accusound sub woofer, Surrounds - Sony

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