Quest For Camelot is a strange movie to put it lightly. It was made by Warner Bros and released on May 15th, 1998. Despite its release date it was actually finished in 1997 and was originally set for a holiday release but was pushed it back to avoid competition with Anastasia , Flubber, Alien Resurrection, Titanic and a re-release of The Little Mermaid. Considering these movies and Quest for Camelot’s rather disharmonious narrative, it was a good decision to push it back.
The story starts with a young girl named Kayley, oh that name sounds soo Arthurian, is hanging out with her dad who is a knight of the Round of Table. Her dad has to go to Camelot for a knight’s meeting and young Kayley dreams of being a knight. KNIGHT!
During the Knight’s of the Round Table meeting one Knights named Rhubarb, I’m sorry, Ruber, not sure which is more ridiculous, wants more land because he wants more and King Arthur says that Knights get land equal to their needs. So Ruber being the sensible bloke that he is tries to kill the king so he and rule. Kayley’s dad is killed defending Arthur. When they bring the body home, Arthur offer Kayley’s mother, Lady Julianna entry into Camelot when ever she wants. I have to wonder if that a special or something offered to all Knight’s widows?
Ten Years past and Kayley wants more out of life than farm labor. But what this? Something more comes when Ruber comes a-knocking and demands Lady Julianna to use her open invitation to Camelot so Ruber can take over. In addition to this he uses a potion that some witches from the Acme Corp (not really joking here) gave him to meld animals and weapons together. His grand plan is fuse himself with Excalibur but as his Griffian was stealing it he dropped in the Forbidden Forest. Kayley gets away because Ruber’s minions massive dum-dums and just let her go. Kayley then makes her way to the Forbidden Forest to get the sword instead of warning Camelot because she wants to be a knight.
As she flees, Kayley is pursued by two goons and a talking chicken who was fused with ax, who wrotes this? Kayley seems cornered but is saved by a handsome blind hermit, named Garrett. She tells Garrett about the missing sword and he tells her that him and his falcon Aiden with go get it without her but he agrees to let her come after she asks him a second time.
They head to dragon country where they run into a two-headed dragon that makes the gargoyles from Disney’s Hunchback look charming. They also run into Ruber and they escape some more stuff happens and Garrett and Kayley fall in love and they get the sword. As they arrive in Camelot Garret tells Kayley to go as he doesn’t belong in that world because of the blindness, I guess. Kayley then promptly gets kidnapped by Ruber and he fuses Excalibur to his hand. He attacks, Garrett comes back and Ruber is tricked into stabbing Excalibur back in the stone it came from and dies. Garrett and Kayley are knighted and they Riverdance, The End.
Broken down into its most basic story elements, Quest for Camelot is about two people who society says shouldn’t be Knights wanting to become Knights and a Power hungry evil guy who wants power. Nothing in this movie is new or original, it just feel very much like a Disney knock-off but to fair this movie, it had a lot production issues.
First off, it is very loosely and I mean loosely based on a book by Vera Chapman called The King’s Damosel, which deals with forced marriage and rape. The narrative is lifted from the backstory of the main character when has to save her sister from the Red knight with help of a guy named Gareth. According to trivia, the movie was supposed to be darker intone but that got lost somewhere with the ax chicken and the two-headed pop-reference spewing dragons. It wasn’t a good move to to use this book. I mean to based your Arthurian movie off of a book that is based on Arthurian legend looks weird and bit incestuous. But they hardly used this book at all.
Second, the movie was created by executives who had no clue how animated movies worked. So the production on the movie suffered and the resulting movie while has decent production values, like decent animation, songs and voice acting, the story is clumsy and uninspired.
The characters too run the gambit of alright to dullness to annoying. Really only one character is at all interesting and that would be Garrett, our blind hermit hero. Garrett got a back story where he was a stable boy who got lost his vision in a fire and Kayley’s perfect father trained him to be a Knight. Basically Garrett is the most interesting thing about this movie.
Ruber is just power-hunger and he does enjoy being evil but there something wanting about him. First, Ruber wants power but he also wants chaos. Hey Idiot, if there is chaos in the land that threatens your power pull. His plan in theory was good but the execution was dumb, there was just too many variables. For example Kayley escapes so what did he have to threaten Julianna with? She didn’t have to go along with it and could have sacrificed herself, her husband did. It just was just stupid but do you except from a guy who sends a talking axe-chicken to bring back a hostage.
Speaking of the Axe-Chicken, whose name is Bladebeak, him and the dragons, Devon and Cornwall are annoying, very annoying. There is no real reason for these characters to be in this movie other than making it fun for children. The pop culture references that the dragons make are more annoying than the gargoyles and just jarring. Yes, they all help in some way but that was justified their characters existing. If they hadn’t been in the film we would have lost nothing.
Then we have other sort of Princess-like character, Kayley. To Kayley’s credit she has a very clear goal, she wants to be a Knight. The problem is Kayley sucks at it. She gets into trouble and someone else has to save her. Even though she sort saves the day, she got the idea to stand her ground till the last second from Garrett.
But you know that really isn’t the problem with Kayley, she is just bland. I could take a character that thinks they are kick-ass but are not but she isn’t charming or interesting to watch. She also looks a lot like Belle, but F that, they shamelessly reference the Lion King for no reason so a Belle look alike isn’t a really issue here.
Then we have the romance between Kayley and Garrett, it it so contrived. It just seems like it is in the movie because that is what Disney does. They went from snarky to lovey in like a day. I didn’t believe it nor was I invested in it.
Then there is decent part of the movie the animation and like one-two songs. However both areas have issues. The animation for the most part is good but there is something about it that perplexes me though. It’s very fluid, so much so that its jarring in a way and yet it’s spare in compositions.
The songs are weak on the whole. Some are better than other like The Prayer but mostly they are just meh. Ruber’s villain song is a train wreck, it has no flow and zero harmony. The Dragon’s song is an annoying farce of a song that thinks its funny because of pop culture references. I don’t want a Arthurian-esque movie that references Sonny and Cher and Elvis! No me gusta!
The trouble with these songs is that they come out of no where and when their done it like they didn’t happen. They add nothing. Also The Prayer song was misplaced as a heartfelt ballad during a chase scene and considering that is the song of the movie it’s off putting. There was another scene with Julianna later in the film that would have worked better. Also Garret’s singing voice while a decent singer did not work with Cary Elwes‘ voice.
Despite my nitpicking on Quest For Camelot, I can see why people would like this movie, it’s a fun little adventure flick, it just wasn’t entertaining for me at all, in the slightest. Even the shear volume of celebrities couldn’t win me over and that sad considering I do enjoy some these actors.
Every time they said Excalibur, I thought this from Soul Eater.