Who's in It:
: James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell
The Basics: You never knew people bared this much nipple during the Dark Ages, but when you're James Franco and your body is what you have going for you, you'd better step up and make with the skin show. So he does, causing Isolde (Sophia Myles) to get all excited. (In her defense, she lives on a desolate rocky coastline where there are no other human beings, and therefore shirtless men prone to disinterested mumbling seem like ice cream cones sent straight from heaven.) Then it turns out that they're from warring clans and she has to marry his dad (Rufus Sewell) and blah, blah, blah, tragedy.
What's the Deal? The deal is that PG-13 sword-fighting is boring. Barely any blood or limbs hacked off. I remember seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail when I was about 10 years old and thinking that the coolest thing ever was when that one guy got his arms and legs chopped off. And that movie was rated PG! So there's just no excuse for this kind of timid battle action. None. I want an unrated DVD and chapter headings on the menu that read "Gore" and "Extra Gore."
Accents, Bloody Accents: Hey, James Franco, were you aware when you made it that this movie is set in England? That you were surrounded by Brit actors? Making the letter A sound like "aww" every 15 minutes or so is not the same thing as nailing a dialect. You make Kevin Costner in Robin Hood sound like Judi Dench.
Anachronisms, Bloody Anachronisms: In Ye Olden Tymes, here are some things that people did not do very much:
1. Women didn't get all feminist and demand self-actualization. (Isolde does.)
2. Brave knights didn't suffer from existential angst and pout about life's lack of meaning. (Tristan does.)
3. Brave knights also didn't walk around wondering about the state of their curly locks and saying stuff like "How do I look?" (Tristan again.)
I mean, I know it's the Fake Dark Ages, with kick-ass cosmetic dentistry and magic-hour location shots that look as though a Eurythmics video is about to break out at any second. But still …
Culture Snob Alert: Tristan & Isolde is also a Wagner opera. Just don't hold that against Wagner.