Review: Netflix's 'Cursed' re-imagines the Arthurian legend as a teenage melodrama

CURSED (L to R) DEVON TERRELL as ARTHUR and KATHERINE LANGFORD as NIMUE in episode 105 of CURSED (Photo: Netflix)

2.5 out of 5 Stars
Frank Miller, Tom Wheeler
Starring: Katherine Langford, Devon Terrell, Gustaf Skarsgård
Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Rated: TV-MA
Available on: Netflix

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Synopsis: The Arthurian legend from the point of view of Nimue, a young woman with magical abilities who survives the massacre of her village by the Red Paladins.

Review: Netflix’s “Cursed,” a re-imagined take on the Arthurian legend, is a strange beast. It has an TV-MA rating but feels utterly tame when compared to “The Witcher” or “Game of Thrones.” This clearly has something to do with the source material, an illustrated novel by Tom Wheeler and artist Frank Miller (“Sin City,” “300”) that is more dedicated to being a coming-of-age story than it is for being a gritty and bawdy epic.

The story is set against a re-imagined version of the Arthurian legend that presents Arthur (Devon Tarrell) as a scoundrel and supporting character. Instead of Arthur, ”Cursed” gives the focus to Nimue (Katherine Langford), a young woman with extraordinary abilities that make her a target of the Red Paladins, a faux religious faction that relies upon fear and violence to advance their agenda.

The majority of the early episodes are dedicated to Nimue, who’d rather be doing anything else, evading the Red Paladins as she tries to deliver a sword given to her by her mother to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård). Merlin, a drunken mess of a mage, has his own agenda.

“Cursed” is, at least initially, about characters that will do anything to not be the people the legends demand they become. It strays into melodrama at times, some of the decision making wouldn’t even hold up in a horror film, and there are a few production elements that ruffle my feathers (it just doesn't look all that great), but about three episodes in the narrative stops running in circles and starts to find its footing. It doesn’t feel particularly original. It also doesn’t feel connected to the classic stories outside of the character names and a magical sword.

“Cursed” might appeal to young people (which makes the TV-MA rating a little problematic) and fans of Langford, but anyone looking for an intelligent spin on the classic Arthurian stories is going to struggle to find anything familiar in the characters or events. I love the idea of a story told from the perspective of the Lady in the Lake, but I’m not sold on whatever it is that “Cursed” is actually doing. It’s not bad television, but it is remotely as noteworthy as its premise suggested. Proceed with caution.

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