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CURSED (S1) gets 5.5/10 An Arthurian tragedy


Created by Frank Miller & Tom Wheeler

Starring Katherine Langford, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Devon Terrell, Gustaf Skarsgård
Network: Netflix

5.5/10

Cursed had been resting at Number 1 on Netflix, until the recent release of The Kissing Booth 2, and now sits at Number 2. Based on the Frank Miller comic, it enjoys comic-style cutscenes and transitions throughout its 10-episode series; which can be distracting and affects the immersion into this fantasy world to a degree.

The series is a slow burn, and if you manage to get past the first episode, it is a visually entertaining series. Starring three of Perth’s homegrown actors, Katherine Langford, Devon Terrell, and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Nimue, King Arthur, and Morgana respectively, there’s a sense of honour in seeing Perth actors making it big on Netflix. Unfortunately, the roles of Nimue and Morgana do not do either actress any favours.

Langford’s first major role since 13 Reasons Why is very sparse in character development, and direction. Her dialogue is vague, boring, and uninspiring. Once again, Langford’s character is merely a vehicle for the other characters – more-so the masculine leads such as Arthur (Devon Terrell) and Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård). It could be argued, that as Nimue is based on the Arthurian Lady of the Lake, she was always just a vehicle, and catalyst for the overall Legend. However, the series was marketed as being “the Arthurian legend told through the lens of a strong, female lead.” Throughout the 10 episodes, this does not come across.

Some strength and defiance does shine through in Brune-Franklin’s character, but even then, it’s dwarfed by the character development of others. Skarsgård’s portrayal of Merlin is dynamic, but you’d be forgiven for making the similarities to Jack Sparrow in the early episodes, with scenes featuring him being like snapshots from Pirates of the Caribbean as padding. My focus was lost during these moments, often waiting to return to Nimue (or any other character), but always frustrated that Langford’s dialogue was never quite satisfying. Primarily the performance comes down to directorial and behavioural choices that did not land for Skarsgård.

Much like the Arthurian legends, it’s a great escape from day-to-day life, and is overall an enjoyable watch but requires very little thought from the audience. The final episodes are where the action and storyline ramp up, proving that 10 episodes was a stretch for the concept. The ending leaves a lot to be desired, and hopefully season two provides answers to open ended plots and better characterisations for Langford and Co.

Watching Cursed is likely to polarise audiences – either as a great experience, or one you opt out of after the first episode.

JOSHUA HALL HAINES

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