At one point in "Seaview Knights," a modern would-be King Arthur takes a look around his decaying nation and comments that "Britain is indeed in need of a savior." Unfortunately, the hero of this misfired fable can't begin to save the film, much less his country. Commercial outlook for this achingly unfunny piece of British whimsy is bleak even on home turf, much less overseas.

At one point in “Seaview Knights,” a modern would-be King Arthur takes a look around his decaying nation and comments that “Britain is indeed in need of a savior.” Unfortunately, the hero of this misfired fable can’t begin to save the film, much less his country. Commercial outlook for this achingly unfunny piece of British whimsy is bleak even on home turf, much less overseas.

Unpromising opening sequence has young Arthur (Clive Darby) bonked on the head from the fallout of excess vibrations of some neighbors’ lovemaking. Scrambled brains cause the bank robber to think he’s actually England’s legendary king, returned after more than 1,400 years to put things right in England.

Unfortunately, director Richard Kurti and his co-writer, Bev Doyle, can’t think of a single interesting way for him to set about doing this. After wandering like a stumblebum around the vast Blackpool amusement park, Arthur becomes the victim of a scheme sewn by his chosen Merlin (James Bolam), a taxi driver who assembles a wayward bunch of misfits and two-bit criminals to make up a new Round Table.

These no-goods try to locate a stash of stolen loot Arthur has hidden, while the man who would be king heads off for London, where he comes upon some Arabs plotting to blow up Parliament. In these sequences, otherwise innocuous film plummets into burlesque-like racial stereotyping, not to mention inept action staging.

Fade-out will provoke anyone making it that far to wonder how this script got a greenlight without being sent back for a rewrite and a request to figure out what it was trying to say.

Attempts at comedy, such as having the new knights being anointed with a cricket bat rather than broad sword, range from the broad to the grotesque, and performances are unengaging. Pro production values make one notice all the more the poverty of imagination elsewhere.

Seaview Knights

(BRITISH)

Production

Produced by Lois A. Wolffe. Executive producers, Christopher Parkinson, Clifford Davis. (International sales: Stranger Than Fiction Ltd., London.) Directed by Richard Kurti. Screenplay, Kurti, Bev Doyle.

Crew

Camera (Metrocolor), Ivan Bartos; editor, Timothy Gee; music, Oliver Davis; production design, Mike Grant; costume design, Louise Johnson; sound (Dolby), Ian Leiper, Mike Johnstone; associate producer, Julie Bracewell; assistant directors, Alison Begg , Richard Bird, Will Goss. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 14, 1994. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Merlin ... James Bolam Arthur ... Clive Darby Jackie ... Sarah Alexander The Blind Concierge ... Anita Dobson The Psychiatrist ... Hildegard Neil
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