Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sean Connery Movie Sunday and A Particularly Trying Test of Faith

And I'm back! Two posts in one day, because, what can I say? I'm a giver. I give. I just can't help myself, it's what I do.

Watch in awe as I cement my place in Hell to make a cheap joke!

Anyway, moving away from the ever-popular topic of damnation, before I review this week's Sean Connery movie I must mention a piece of news that has greatly tested my reserves of Sean Connery. Even though this blog has been around, what, like two months, you ought to know from the fact that I never shut up about it that one of my greatest wishes, apart from a swimming pool full of chocolate pudding and twenty minutes alone with Christian Bale, is that Sean Connery would come out of retirement and do more movies, because him going out on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is like Shakespeare writing a play called "Some Shit Happens and Everyone Gets Married" and being like "well, that's it for me, time to retire!"

Be careful what you wish for:

"When tragedy strikes in the Scottish Highlands, there can be only one man for the job - Sir William Sedgewick, aka Sir Billi (Sir Sean Connery)! An adventure story about an inimitable Highland hero - a grandpa and active senior skateboarding veterinarian who goes above and beyond the call of duty fighting villainous policemen and powerful lairds in a battle to save an illegal fugitive - Bessie Boo the beaver!"

It's not some kind of late-April's Fools joke gone horribly wrong. It's the real deal. An animated film about a skateboarding grandad saving a beaver named BESSIE FUCKING BOO. It wraps up this summer so it will probably be coming soon. It exists. It's a thing. And it looks like this:

Yeah, Pixar or Dreamworks this ain't.

So why? Why has Sean Connery left the comfy world of retired old-dudehood for what sounds like a horrific train wreck of an animated family film? Because he produced it. Yeah, that's right. He's largely responsible for the existence of this thing. So The Connery leaves retirement not to make a movie where he is the venerable old badass of anything, not even a cameo in an action movie, but as a voice in a movie with a skateboarding old man saving a beaver in Scotland. Now it's like Shakespeare deciding he wasn't quite done yet and writing a play called "Mostly Just Fart Jokes." Thou dost try me Sir Connery. Thou dost indeed.

Ok, I need to move on before I start to get upse-BESSIE BOO! WHAT THE HELL?! Ok, ok, I'm all right, It's all good, today's Sean Connery movie is a doozy, an exercise in the hilariously bad: First Knight.

Sean Connery stares into his reflection in a sword blade that is for some reason a woman who is deeply entranced by Richard Gere's luxuriously flowing locks (but, really, who wouldn't be?)

This movie is ridiculous. I feel the need to state this flat out because as I describe the plot there will be multiple moments of "huh?" "what the crap?" and "for reals?" it's just that kind of movie. It begins with the introduction of Guinevere (Julia Ormand), a princess/queen/pseudo-leader of some province or other that keeps getting attacked by a rogue knight named Malagant (Ben Cross) and his followers, who is seeking to expand his territory through general ass-holery. Although to be fair, when you have a name like Malagant it's really only a matter of time until you do SOMETHING evil. Anyway, in order to ensure her subjects safety she must form an alliance with King Arthur (Sean Connery), ie she has to marry the wrinkly old king and presumably have sex with him (all together now: eeeeewwwwwwww!!!).

Meanwhile Lancelot (Richard Gere making no attempt at anything resembling an English accent) is a wandering swordsman, making his living by his blade and boyish grin.

He likes comely wenches, long walks on the beach and talking about his feelings.

So Guinevere consents to marrying Arthur despite the fact that he is old enough to be her father twice because she falls in love with his kindness and wisdom...or the fact that she'd be queen of Camelot. Probably that. As she travels to Camelot she is ambushed by Malagant's men, which sounds like the name of some kind of gay European strip club, and rescued by Lancelot who proceeds to hit on her eight bajillion times even though she keeps telling she's getting married to a king. They part ways sure to never meet of course they do.

Guinevere and Arthur seem happy enough as a couple, if a bit icky, when Lancelot rears his pretty head and navigates a gauntlet of death that is supposed to be some kind of sport challenge thing for a kiss from Guinevere, who is not cool with the idea of kissing Lance. Arthur, gleefully oblivious of the INTENSE SEXUAL TENSION radiating between Guinevere and Lancelot, invites Lancelot to stay awhile when Malagant comes and kidnaps Guinevere! Why? Why the fuck not! So Lancelot goes to the Malagant's...cave. Yeah, his base is in a cave with highly improbable structures such as a one dinky little ledge on the edge of a gaping black void where he leaves her prisoner. Because that makes sense. Lancelot literally swings in to her rescue, throws her over his horse and gallops away. He continues to hit on her, attempting to impress her by getting drinking water from leaves and telling sad stories about how everyone he ever loved died in a fire. Surprisingly, this does not win her heart.

Arthur, who at this point I think is going hugely out of his way to ignore how badly Lancelot wants to bone Guinevere, is so impressed with Lance's retrieval of his wife that he makes him a knight and all the other knights love him and Arthur's like the (gran)dad Lancelot never had and then...Guinevere gives in. Lancelot, finally ashamed of his raging libido, decides to leave and tells Guinevere goodbye. Even though she has spent the whole entire movie rejecting his advances, for whatever reason Guinevere leaps into his arms and initiates sexy make-out time. And who should walk in? Why, Arthur of course! And how does he handle the fact that his wife and his trusted knight who he treats like a surrogate (grand)son are screwing around on him?

Better than expected

Arthur is reasonably pissed at all the simmering romantic heat he failed to notice before and does what any ticked-off husband would do: orders the two to be executed! I know you're supposed to root for Guin and Lance but she's just so vapid and he's just such a pretty-boy that you can't help siding with Arthur, who looks like someone ran his puppy over with a steamroller. But just when he's about to get his vengeance on, Malagant comes back from wherever the hell he was before and demands Arthur hand over Camelot or else he will burn things, which does not sound like a very credible threat but whatever. Arthur realizes he's pretty much screwed. He can go out like a puss and surrender, saving his kingdom, his traitorous knight and his hussy wife, or he can do this: (it's all in the first minute or so)

Ridiculous movie. Awesome death scene.

The rest goes as expected, big fights, prettiness prevails and Arthur's last words are for Lance to take care of Guinevere, totally justifying their lusty ways and ensuring they live happily ever after, never mind that in the legend their affair brings about the destruction of Camelot, Arthur is not ok with it, and Guinevere becomes a nun, Lancelot becomes a hermit and they live the rest of their lives in penitence. Yep. Just ignore that watch them embrace lovingly as her husband's corpse is lit on fire and pushed out to sea. Cause nothing says romance like a funeral pyre, baby.

First Knight is silly, cheesy fun. It mangles the Arthur legend beyond conceivability, the costumes look hilariously weird, Richard Gere is prettier than the love interest, people say things like "I want to marry you. Not your crown, not your army. Just you" and Arthur is cross-bow'd to death. If you want a good King Arthur movie, it's best to skip this one, if you want a movie that is to King Arthur what Disney's Three Musketeers was to Alexander Dumas's story, look no further!

Another hilarious movie of ambiguous accents (or none), scenery chewing and unlikely castle interiors.

Overall, it's hell of a lot more fun than Entrapment, but not nearly as dignified as, well as a lot of things. Two and three-quarter catapults out of five, because I can do that.

See you tomorrow for Music Monday! This is Sugary Cynic saying Camelot Lives!

Lancelot: "Do you know how to win a sword fight?"
Some Poor Bastard: "How?"
Lancelot: "Be the only one with a sword!"


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