I’ve seen other adaptations of the Orczy stories, but the black-and-white Scarlet Pimpernel is noteworthy because of its reflection of Anglo-American concerns about dictatorship and war in Europe and as a forerunner to characters such as Zorro and Batman. Speaking of swashbuckling, fellow fans of everything from Errol Flynn’s films to Star Wars, Highlander, The Princess Bride, and The Lord of the Rings should note the passing of sword masterBob Anderson.
Pirates 4 was better than its muddled predecessor At World’s End, with a more linear plotinvolving the Fountain of Youth, less pointless backstabbing and visual effects, and somewhat less mugging by star Johnny Depp. The romantic subplots were still extraneous but less annoying, and Penelope Cruz as pirate Angelica and Ian McShane as the notorious Blackbeard were worthy foils to Depp’s Capt. Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush’s Capt. Barbossa. Not surprisingly, Disney’s On Stranger Tides leaves the door open for yet more sequels. I’d give it a B, 7 out of 10, or three stars.
The apparent theme of many of the movies I’ve mentioned here is that retro films, especially swashbucklers, never truly go out of style. The Artist is no exception, both following and paying homage to the tropes of the silent era. The French film is set in Hollywood of the late 1920s and early 1930s and follows the charismatic George Valentin (Jean Dujardin as an analogue for Rudoph Valentino) and young actress Peppy Miller (played by Berenice Bejo) as their industry deals with changing technology and audience tastes. Valentin’s dog steals the show. I definitely recommend The Artist, which I’d give an A-, or four out of five stars, or 8.5 out of 10.
Since horror is one of the more accessible genres, supernatural dramas are perennially popular on television. I’ve enjoyed BBC America’s Being Human, and I can appreciate why SyFy’s U.S. version, as well as Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, and HBO’s True Blood, all have strong fan bases. I don’t know if any of them will have the popularity or influence of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, but Joss Whedon always had an eye for talent and an ear for dialogue. Greg D.C. has been running a Dresden Files game using FATE.
In fact, after the demise of superhero shows and the struggles of space opera on TV, the networks are again banking on fairy tales and police procedurals for their fall schedules, with Alcatraz, Awake, Gifted Man, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Person of Interest, River, Secret Circle, and Touch. Never mind that shows such as Journeyman, New Amsterdam, Eli Stone, Reaper, and Eastwick all failed. Of the upcoming shows, I may check out Grimm and Awake.
For more traditional sword-and-sandals action, I wonder how Season 2.5 of Spartacus will manage with a new star. I’ve seen only the premiere of the fantasy Game of Thrones, which sports strong writing and production values, but Cameloton Starz should satisfy my sword-and-sorcery (and sex) quota and is not to be confused with the BBC/SyFy young-adult Merlin.
Camelot is based on Thomas Malory’s Le Morte de Arthur, which isn’t my favorite version of the legends, but the series has taken a new look at mythic Britain’s romantic intrigues and attempts to establish chivalrous code. I recently enjoyed Tony Hays’ The Beloved Dead, the third book in a series of Arthurian mysteries that Janice pointed me to. They’re more historical than mystical, like The Last Legion and the 2004 King Arthur.