The Arthurian legend reflects a fertile playground screen, discovered and overhauled from almost every plausible angle. Netflix‘s “Cursed” is, however, other than its visual style, a pale addition to the mythology, presenting the story from the viewpoint of Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, without producing many dramatic ripples.
Adapted from his book with comics-artist-turned-filmmaker Frank Miller by Tom Wheeler (creator of the comics-flavored series “The Cape”), the series beautifully features the trappings anticipated — violent wars, wizardly magic and a heroic quest — but brings them together in a very familiar way. It is not exactly bad, it is just lifeless.
Mostly, the show is built to fall under the “If you liked ‘The Witcher'” heading of Netflix’s algorithm, but although that title evidently worked, creatively speaking, based on the mysterious viewing ratings of the channel, it is not very nice either.
The project stars Katherine Langford of “13 Reasons Why” in another marketable Netflix tie-in as the aforementioned Nimue, who is bestowed a magic sword by her mother after a bloody attack on their village. She has been told to take the blade to Merlin (yes, that Merlin, played with appropriately wild-eyed abandon by “Vikings'” Gustaf Skarsgård), for unknown reasons.
On the risky journey, she encounters a young fortune soldier called Arthur (Devon Terrell), at first a very grudging ally; and she must avoid a number of threats, including a Red Paladin order headed by the brutal Father Carden (“Ozark’s” Peter Mullan).
The most unique flourish could be the comic-book-like animation used fleetingly as connective tissue between scenes, a taste of Miller’s contribution that is not enough to make “Cursed” more involved. Most of this has to do with the protagonists, whose back stories are gradually teased — such as details of what makes Nimue special — but remain a trifle malnourished.
Granted, “Game of Thrones” set a high bar for fantasy ventures, which did not stop Netflix from hammering away at the genre earlier in the month, like “Warrior Nun” Also worthy of note is that “Cursed” follows several attempts to conjure series variations on the story, including “Camelot” and “Merlin” a decade or so ago.
Also the rating of “Cursed” on the not-too-steep curve remains uninspired. For those with an affinity for Camelot’s tales, that point of reference and related aspirations may not be a curse, but they certainly are not a blessing.
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