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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Excalibur
Excalibur
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Review by Marc Girdler | posted January 28, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) is the leader of a rampart of knights, battling Lord Cornwall (Corin Redgrave) in the throes of dark ages conflict. Uther decides to call in the back up, so he instructs Merlin to give him an edge, and an edge he gets. Merlind aides Uther in attaining Excalibur, the sword of swords, the sword of kings. Uther defeats Cornwall, but then has another goal, to seduce Cornwall's young bride, and of course, he asks Merlin to help a buddy out. Merlin disguises Uther as Cornwall, so he can have his royal way with her, and the real Cornwall ends up dead. Nine magical months later, the young wife is pregnant, and Merlin takes the baby, which was part of Uther's agreement. So, Uther has the girl, he has the countryside, he even has his sword. But things go awry, and an ambush finds Cornwall, really Uther, on the run. With his final stroke, he drives Excalibur into a rock, and voila, we have ourselves a legend. Years later, young Arthur (the grown up baby) is able to repel the sword from the rock, while no one else can, and he is named King. Under Merlin's guidance, he impresses his fellow knights and becomes a fairly popular leader. But can even Arthur lead his kingdom forever?

Video: Excalibur is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it looks very good. While most of the visuals look solid, the beginning tends to show more nicks and flecks than the rest of the film. The colors are very natural in tone, bright without being overly so. Black levels are solid, although some scenes wander into a darker, muddied appearance. The disc shows some blocking early on, but that quickly vanishes as the disc progresses. It's not perfect, but it's a vast improvement over any previous version.

Audio: The disc uses a 5.1 track for audio, and it does not show the advantage of such a track. There is little surround use, with even the fullest sounds occuring in the front channels. The audio is reserved to the front speakers, as I said, so the sound is not as full as it could be. But it sounds good, just not to the extent it would with a more active mix. Dialogue is good, with clear vocals and fine separation.

Extras: This disc is a low priced (MSRP- 19.99) disc, but it contains a nice selection of bonus features. The disc includes production notes and the original theatrical trailer, which is very cool, as well as a running commentary with director John Boorman. Boorman gives a good mixture of personal notes and technical issues, which makes for a fun and informative listen.

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