WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
In a retelling of the Arthurian legend, teen sorceress Nimue joins forces with a young and charming mercenary named Arthur on a mission to save her people.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
While Game of Thrones has left us with a thirst for fantasy TV shows and the second season of The Witcher has been stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Netflix has pushed out a new series that might scratch that otherworldly itch. Based on the Arthurian legends that have probably been retold a million and one times by Hollywood, Cursed is something a little different.
Instead of King Arthur as the core focus of the story, we follow the trials and tribulations of Nimue - a stubborn, hard-headed fae girl with powers that are difficult to control. As religious fanatics known as the Red Paladins invade their lands with plans to wipe out her kind, she comes into possession of an ancient fae artefact that power-hungry men will do anything to get their hands on.
Our leading lady is played by Katherine Langford, who is known for her role in another Netflix hit, 13 Reasons Why. She's a great fit for the role, radiating a lot of strength in her performance and is the kind of bad-ass woman we love to see on screen.
At times, her scenes were a bit boring but it was more of an issue with the writing than her skills. Unfortunately, her romantic interest, Arthur - played by Devon Terrell (Barry, The Professor, Ophelia) - is a wet blanket with an odd morality complex - and there's almost no chemistry between the two. They're like good friends forced to pretend to be in love with each other and their feigned flirtations I wanted to skip the most. I think a different actor should have been cast for his role, or the directors and writers should have added a lot more spice to their tepid interactions.
The person who is the opposite of bland is Merlin, played by Vikings favourite Gustaf Skarsgård. I really would not have pictured this drunken, scheming bastard character as a good fit for the wise magician. But he easily steals every scene he's in. Beyond his funny and wild persona, there remains an emotional depth that is hauntingly beautiful and sad - a man who has lived through many failures and experienced first-hand the cruelness of power. Skarsgård and Langford bounced off each other like a well-oiled machine. I wished that they had far more scenes together than just those in the last couple of episodes. At one point, you even wonder if he shouldn't have been the main protagonist, but it doesn't detract from Nimue as the lead.
While the characters in the story are based on famous characters from Arthurian stories - from Morgana and the Green Knight to King Uther - the story completely follows its own path.
It might at first feel like your typical teen-fantasy drama, but there's more adult intrigue and plots, putting it on par with The Witcher - with fewer butt montages.
The show's creators - Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler from comic book fame - spent a lot of time building the world of the fae and medieval men, but there's a drawback to this. The first half of the series takes a long time to build momentum, with long, drawn-out plots that almost make you lose interest completely. It takes forever for any big revelations to take place, which doesn't exactly provide the kind of binge-worthy cliffhangers that make you eager to click "Next Episode".
But having spent so much time on each of the characters and their development - which the series oozes - means that the second season has incredibly strong groundwork to jump from and should be a lot more interesting, especially after that final cliffhanger.
Cursed is a series with a lot of potential to develop into a strong fantasy show, but the first season doesn't get there yet. You'd have to be patient with it and enjoy the world Miller and Wheeler are building despite terrible CGI and a slow story, and, hopefully, we'll be rewarded for our efforts in the seasons to come.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: