Who's in It:
Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Peter Mullan, Aishwarya Rai
The Basics: The Roman Empire goes down the toilet, and boy-king Romulus Augustus scampers off to Britain to find the last straggling batch of Roman supporters. Then there are a lot of swordfights. I'd be able to tell you more if my mind hadn't wandered off onto way more interesting topics, like what I needed to get at the grocery store on the way home; at the halfway mark, I'd made a list that included lemons and chicken broth, because I decided, somewhere around the part where the Indian "warrior-maiden" shows up and starts using martial-arts moves on everyone, that I'd remember my lemon risotto with more fondness and for a longer period of time than I plan to remember this useless movie.
What's the Deal? You want King Arthur-y movies like this to give you a jolt. And you'd think that with all the Gladiator-lite, Hong Kong-action-infused, Matrix-freeze-framing, Sword in the Stone-ing going on here that there'd be at least one. But somehow they manage to just make it all seem like a giant, confused, clanking mess. You don't even know who's fighting whom half the time. It even feels depressing. Like the homework assignment that no one wants. I think of the people who had to act in it and edit it and work on the post-production computer-generated images and the poster design and cut the trailer, and my fantasy is that they all woke up every morning and wished for more time in bed rather than having to go to work.
Ben Kingsley Loves Money: That's why the serious Academy Award-winning thespian took this role as a Merlin-ish magician. There can be no other explanation. Unless he's in a contest with himself to be in something even more dorky than BloodRayne. And even then, he loses that match with himself because nothing trumps BloodRayne.
Not as Much Fun As: Krull, a teeth-cleaning, doing the laundry or visiting your great aunt at her nursing home. But especially not as much fun as Krull.
Future Litmus Test for Films Like This: It wouldn't be right to say that everything has to be as awesome as a Lord of the Rings film, but they at least have to be as good as any random episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. I think that's fair.