Cursed, the review: the curse of serial fantasy

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Philippe Gloaguen
@philippegloaguen

Approaching the vision and the review by Cursed, at the ripe old age of thirty-five, it's not easy. The numerous winters behind me have in fact allowed me to experience the customs clearance and consecration of the fantasy genre before the cinema, by Peter Jackson and his The Lord of the Rings, then on TV thanks above all to the resounding success of A game of thrones (here our review of the last season): milestones with which, like it or not, every new product of the genre has to deal with.



Furthermore, the most cynical gaze of the adult cannot abandon itself to the imagination like that of a teenager who, obviously, is the target audience of this new original production. Netflix. Cursed is in fact a substantially hybrid product, straddling the fantasy and teen drama: a dichotomy that, it should be said right away, does not work as it should.

At the court of King Arthur.

Cursed is the adaptation of the homonymous work signed by Tom Wheeler e Frank Miller and it is essentially a free reworking of stories and characters belonging to the Breton (or Arthurian) cycle.

Nimue, the absolute protagonist, is a young girl with magical abilities. For this reason, the girl's childhood and early adolescence were marked by her marginalization, even by her from her own people, the Fey. When her village is attacked by the Red Paladins, soldiers in the service of the Papacy with the aim of exterminating the Fey race, Nimue promises her dying mother to bring an ancient magic sword to the well-known sorcerer Merlin.

Soon the ancient relic will prove to be particularly coveted by the various factions in the field and Nimue will be forced on a long journey to discover the world and herself. A journey made of dangers and encounters, like the one with the young Arthur, the future is legendary King Arthur.



The writing is superficial and stereotyped, the result of the evident intention of addressing a young audience.

The narrative premises, in fact, are certainly not among the most original and adhere to the most classic canons of the genre. Cursed's problem, however, is that not even the development has its own peculiarities, often resulting like a poorly packaged fruit salad of more famous works. There is the cursed sword which must be destroyed and which consumes its owner, a war between pretenders to the throne, a corrupt and dull Church whose adepts are stained with terrible atrocities in the name of God, and so on. Everything is already seen.

The same applies to practically all the characters, who are two-dimensional and not very multifaceted.

The main problem lies in a writing that practically never delves into its psychology and, when it does, it does so in a summary and simplistic way.

Teen Fantasy

A superficial and stereotyped writing born of the evident intention of addressing a young audience with few pretensions to the verisimilitude of the story. The good guys are ontologically good and the bad guys are ontologically bad, with few gray areas. THE deus ex machina abound and the engine of the action is always specious and even the protagonist Nimue, who should have a substantial evolution during the narrative arc of the first season, appears to act in a schizophrenic and not justified way.

In short, not exactly a fine and layered story that reaches rather embarrassing heights in the inevitable love situations, seasoned with dialogues and situations on the edge of the cringe. Without a doubt the lowest moments of the whole product.

The cast is the son of the same logic and therefore in the role of the protagonist Nimue we find Katherine Langford, already celebrated star of the lucky teen drama Thirteen who, despite her efforts, is not very credible in the role of a "warrior princess" decidedly clumsy with swords and acrobatics.



Cursed reaches rather embarrassing heights in the inevitable love situations.

Alongside Langford a rather large cast of supporting actors and antagonists who often steal the show from her. Arthur is played by the young and handsome Devon Terrel, in an interpretation that is never truly memorable. Better instead the Merlin of Gustav Skargard, certainly among the best performances of the package, while Father Carden of the excellent Peter Mullan it fails to emerge as it deserved.

It is worth briefly mentioning how the cast choices go decidedly in the direction of inclusiveness with a strong presence, even among the extras, of black and Asian actors. A choice that would clash a bit with what the context should be, England in the fifth century of the Breton cycle, but which in a work that emancipates itself decisively from any historical and philological verisimilitude is not particularly forced.

Il mestiere delle armi

From a formal and aesthetic point of view, however, this Cursed is incredibly fluctuating and on several levels. If the photography always remains good even if it does not make a miracle cry, the direction and the editing show continuous ups and downs in the course of the ten episodes that make up the first season.

The first few episodes are probably the worst and drown in a staid rhythm and in uninspired and often badly shot descriptive scenes that tell very little about the context as much as the characters. Particularly ugly are the action scenes, with fights almost never credible due to poorly executed, poorly shot and poorly assembled choreographies. Some battles then return an unpleasant feeling of low budget due to the small number of extras, particularly conspicuous in long shots.


Particularly ugly are the action scenes, with fights almost never credible due to poorly executed, poorly shot and poorly assembled choreographies.

On the other hand, the last episode seems to have undergone special treatment in terms of budget and certainly represents the high point of the season by virtue of its much better staged action.


In general, costumes and sets are all in all credible although not particularly original and are supported by a decent work of visual effects, often better, for example, than seen in the recent The Witcher (here our review). Nothing transcendental, of course, and some locations are decidedly modest, but at least not too fake.

On the other hand, in a product so obviously "not very adult", the choice to push the accelerator gore and violence, with a substantial dose of amputations that sometimes make you smile rather than shock.

In conclusion this review by Cursed can only express a negative opinion. A rejection that must also be contextualized by virtue of the conscious choice to bring a product to the small screen for a young audience not accustomed to the most noble fantasy.

In fact, in Cursed by courtly there is nothing, starting from the decidedly modern and colloquial language. The comparison with the cornerstones mentioned at the beginning has no reason to exist as Cursed plays in a completely different league. Cursed plays in the league of Hercules and the Fantaghirò televisions of the nineties, if anything, albeit with a less artisanal staging.

If you are looking for the new reference fantasy series, then, it will hardly be Cursed. However, not everything is to be thrown away and if you fall within the target young adult of the series you might also like it.

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