Merlin is a really fun nineties fantasy movie. The adaptation of the English myth was originally released as a two-part mini series. 

However, I watched it on DVD as one feature film. I wish more people knew about this movie because it is an epic fantasy with an all-star cast. Here is what makes ‘Merlin’ so enjoyable.

The intro wastes no time. From the opening, a sweeping soundtrack grabs the viewer by the heart and hauls them into a grand adventure. The composition accompanies a tracking shot of Sam Neil galloping on horseback.

The camera follows along behind the horse as they burst out of a forest alcove onto a shore. The landscape is beautiful and the camera lovingly captures it while Neil journeys to a hill-top settlement in the distance. 

Right from the off, the director is providing the feeling of freedom and adventure that fantasy is all about.
‘Merlin’ is big crazy fun. It was released in the late nineties but it is eighties in its flamboyance. This is high fantasy if ever I saw it, its all pointed elf ears; sparkly cloaks and booming voices.

The world is built in a really effective way. The fantasy version of Britain in a land of infinite possibilities but it never feels flippant. The writers do a great job of establishing a sense of place. You are sold on the characters and the lore.

The plot can get convoluted at times but I still found myself deeply invested. Perhaps this is because we all grew up hearing the legend of Merlin and Arthur in some form.
Magic is a part of this world’s architecture so naturally, the film is special effects heavy. The CGI is quite crude but clever techniques are used in spite of the nineties technology. A particular stand out is the effect when Frik changes his appearance.

The soundtrack inspires an emotional pang. Maybe it is because it sounds like music you would hear in an Elder Scrolls game. The sound of adventure.

The epic soundtrack is complemented by the theatricality of the acting. The stellar cast give big performances that feel appropriate given the setting. Rutger Haur is a great villain. His on-screen magnetism is indomitable. Few actors can share the screen with him and win the wrestling match for the audience’s attention.
If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, you owe it to yourself to watch ‘Merlin’.