Cursed is a new exciting fantasy series on Netflix which takes the King Arthur legend and turns it on its head.
The show is based on a story by comic book maestro Frank Miller (The Dark Knight, Sin City).
Is this new version of the tale worth your time? Here is our look at Cursed.
Cursed supposes that, before King Arthur pulled the sword out of the stone, the Lady of the Lake chose a female warrior.
That lady is a Fae (a young fairy) named Nimue (Katherine Langford), who lives in a community that looks down on her as a dark witch, even though she is just a girl who struggles to maintain her emotions at times.
Netflix fans know Katherine Langford well from her role as high school student Hannah in 13 Reasons Why, who took her own life to set up the drama series.
The opening episode of Cursed lays the groundwork for everything perfectly.
Nimue is an outsider even among her own people. The Red Paladins, led by Carden (Peter Mullan), are murdering supernatural beings all throughout the land. King Uther Pendragon (Sebastian Armesto) is struggling to maintain power since his magician Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgard) is unable to still do magic (he just wanted rain!!!).
Yes, it is that Merlin and here he is portrayed like a mystical Doc Holliday, as played in the great western movie Tombstone by Val Kilmer.
Soon, Nimue ends up with the Sword of the First King and heads off with a mercenary named Arthur (Devon Terrell).
Anyone who knows Arthurian legend knows those names. Arthur is the future king. Merlin is his magician. Nimue is the Lady of the Lake. And this is the origin story of her, the big tale before King Arthur starts his main journey.
The difference here is that this is a female-driven story, with Nimue at least able to keep the dumb men that cause all the problems in traditional Arthurian tales in line as best she can.
There are 10 episodes in Cursed, typical for a Netflix original series.
Langford carries this movie on her capable shoulders and is turning into a great young actress. She is even able to carry scenes that would otherwise be cringeworthy, as it seems Cursed is damned to throw in as many King Arthur easter eggs as humanly possible.
However, when the story focuses on Nimue and her journey, it thrives. Skarsgard as Merlin is also a standout, and as mentioned, he brings some of the renegade Doc Holliday to his performance here, which is like nothing Arthur fans had seen before from Merlin.
As expected with a Frank Miller story, there is also a lot going on under the hood, although it does not always come out on the screen as well as some might have hoped.
The religious undertones, including the hypocrisy of the Red Paladins, is there, and there is a great moment where Nimue is in a nunnery that stands above many of the Arthurian scenes on the journey.
This is the one real downfall of Cursed. When it sticks with Nimue, it is great. When it is pandering to Arthurian legend fans, it stalls. It is this lack of focus that keeps it from being great, and just being an entertaining binge-watch.
Also, there needs to be a shout-out to Lili Newmark as Nimue’s friend Pym, who from the first episode on steals every single scene she appears in and is the best supporting character in the entire Netflix series.
The comparison here is with other fantasy series on Netflix that recently hit the streaming giant.
The Witcher is the one that most people talk about, as it was based on not only acclaimed novels but also very popular video games. Cursed is comparable to that one, although where it excels (it looks a lot better all the way through), it falls short in the bizarre lunacy that The Witcher enjoys in spades.
There was also the recently released Warrior Nun, and once again, Cursed does not possess the over-the-top craziness that Netflix series offered viewers.
This is not a shock.
This is a Frank Miller story. In The Dark Knight, his Batman was as dark as coal. In Sin City, while fun, it was violent and dangerous. Cursed is not that dark, but this is an interesting story that starts slow then picks up speed, and is never boring.
It is also, as is no shock for fans of another Miller property, 300, very violent and bloody at stages, so be prepared for lots of death, destruction, and blood. Plus, unlike The Witcher, this is done in a way that looks great throughout the entire series.
There isn’t a lot to praise here outside of a fun ride, but there is a great story at its heart and if there is a second season, things could really pick up steam.