Merlin and the Book of Beasts

2009

This is no “Excalibur.” Heck, it’s not even any given episode of “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.” What it is is a SciFi Pictures Original, and more often that not, that’s a bad sign, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

“Merlin and the Book of Beasts” casts “Battlestar Galatica” alum James Callis as the wizened wizard. In a post-King Arthur land, he’s called upon to help save everyone by destroying all these monsters on the loose. He does so with the help of Avlynn (Laura Harris), a sword-slingin’ she-woman who appeals to what’s left of Merlin’s heart.

The army of armored skeleton-like creatures looks cool; the group of girl gorgons does not. You’d think a character with hissing snakes for hair would be the bees’ knees, but the film’s low budget results in special effects too cheesy to be effective. Sometimes, as in the opening scene in which a village is attacked by butterflies, they’re downright laughable.

Above all, “Beasts” is just boring. The pace is slow, the acting seems sleepy, and the occasional burst of action is too poorly executed to recapture any initial interest going in. I’m afraid even die-hard fans of Camelot will find the film lacking.

There’s a featurette on its making included on the disc, but after viewing the movie, you won’ t want to know anything further about it.

“”Rod Lott

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