Sam Neil leads a cast of all-stars in NBC's Merlin, a film with little recognition most likely because it is a "made for TV movie" although you'll immediately forget that once you're into the adventure. The movie is narrated by Merlin himself as an old man, retelling the events of his life until it finally leads up to the present.
Sam Neil is Merlin, a half-human sorcerer created by the evil Queen Mab (Miranda Richardson) to be used in her army in order to bring back the old ways of civilization, where magic and spells dominated over religion. Mab's dwarf, Frik (Martin Short)is responsible for training Merlin to become a powerful wizard at Mab's disposal. However, the death of both his mother and aunt at the hands of Mab result in Merlin refusing to support her, and journeys off on his own. Throughout the movie, Merlin tries to make people better and lead mortals toward a better destiny. He has the power the see into the future, and uses it to allow the good kings to win battles by offering them his advice and telling them how to win.
Despite Merlin's defiance of Mab, hope is not lost as Merlin becomes more powerful by conflicting with the first four Christian kings of England; Constant, Vortigern, Uther, and Arthur. At the same time, Merlin falls in love with Princess Nimue, (Isabella Rossellini) and is often pitted between fighting for his love and doing what is right for England. Mab is able to create chaos and test Merlin until she feels he is ready.
All the elements and qualities of a good fantasy are present. Evil tyrants, dragons and gnome creatures complicate Merlin's journey and his quest to complete his destiny.
Merlin is powered by dazzling special effects, although not always crisp and nowhere near the caliber of "Lord of the Rings." Regardless, the style is unique and emotional. The visual effects are stunning. Mab's chirping fairies and her sudden quick movements in the still environments are creepy and effective. The story is packed with familiar tales of King
Arthur and other adventures is enough to keep you captivated and interested in this longer than usual movie.
Fans of fantasy and adventure films will highly enjoy Merlin, it's a movie that the entire family can watch together and one you should add to your library. It's the best "made for TV" movie and can easily compete with the Blockbuster and Hollywood renditions of Merlin and the tales of this time period.
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