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Quest for Camelot: Warner Brothers doesn't remember much from the days of Looney Tunes

By Vladimir V. Zelevinsky
Staff Reporter

With the voices of Jessalyn Gilsig, Cary Elwes, Gary Oldman, Eric Idle Don Rickles, Pierce Brosnan

Written by Kirk De Micco, William Schifrin, Jacqueline Feather, and David Seidler, based on the novel The King's Damosel by Vera Chapman

Music by Patrick Doyle

Songs by David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager

Directed by Frederik Du Chau

With Disney consistently making profits on their animated features, other studios have tried entering the field. 20th Century Fox made an impressive debut last fall with Anastasia, and now we have first major release from Warner Brothers, Quest for Camelot - and it's a disaster, a nearly unwatchable movie which fails in every single respect.

Rumored to be a run-away production, with the original director and lead animators all quitting during the production, and with the budget swelling to unprecedented levels making this the most expensive animated film ever, this is an appallingly awful movie. While there are several worthwhile, albeit totally undeveloped, elements in the story, all are lost in a totally insipid and formulaic screenplay.

Said story features Kayley, a young spunky girl of the Arthurian era, who wants to become a knight. Some trouble brews in Camelot - an evil knight Ruber (how could this maniac even become a knight in the first place?) tries to overthrow King Arthur, and steals Arthur's magic sword Excalibur. The sword is conveniently lost in the horrific Forbidden Forest (you know, living plants, dragons, magic, etc.), and Kayley ventures inside, searching for the sword. Ruber, along with his stupid minions (including half-chicken, half-battleaxe - don't ask) plods along. On her trip, Kayley acquires a ragtag group of helpmates, including Garret, a blind and bland love interest, a two-headed dragon, and a falcon, who is the only character with the good taste to refrain from speaking.

Other characters do speak, and do so in a very lackluster fashion. Gary Oldman mumbles, voicing evil Ruber (oh, creative casting!), in his second stinker of the season, after Lost In Space; other famous voices (Pierce Brosnan as King Arthur, Sir John Gielgud as Merlin, Cary Elwes as Garret) sound terminally bored. Singing is utterly unremarkable as well, although it's hard to imagine anyone being enthusiastic singing such insipid songs - whose bright idea was it to score a chase sequence to a tender ballad, anyway?

The journey itself is quite a decent idea for the story, and the fact that one character is blind makes it even more interesting. However, all of these are missed opportunities. The animation is horrible - very much detail-less and poorly realized. Computer-generated effects stand out as eyesores, with the background and characters not aligned correctly and with characters' faces absolutely motionless. The dialogue is full of clunker lines, and the usual formula of animated features is followed to a tee (hero, her love interest, villain, comic relief, bad guy's sidekick, songs, etc.) without a single idea as to how to make all of these elements work.

A brief list of things that do work: the musical score - as opposed to the songs - by Patrick Doyle, of Much Ado about Nothing fame; a (very) few moments of visual wit, such as the neat opening shot and the design of Ruber's minions; and - no, that's it. At least, at an anemic 80 minutes, Quest for Camelot doesn't have time to turn painfully boring. Undoubtedly the worst movie of the year so far. Let's hope that it stays that way - but who am I kidding.