Updated: Aug 16, 2020

They call it the Sword of Power but we know it's Excalibur!

Listen to The Geeky Gentleman Podcast Episode 29: Cursed Review & The Top 5 Fashionable Face Masks here!

Netflix is trying to hit a stride with the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Cursed is fresh off the heels of The Witcher and Warrior Nun. But how does it compare?

Netflix viewers will be quick to compare this show to other female heroine shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the recently cancelled Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The show follows the same format. A female character finds out that she’s been “chosen” for a much larger destiny than she could have imagined. Cursed is much more closer to the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, in terms of tone, and at no point hits the maturity or emotional punches of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now, I like a good retelling of the story of King Arthur as much as the next person. I greatly enjoyed BBC's Merlin. But, I think my favorite retelling of this tale was the miniseries of Merlin, starring Sam Neill, back in 1998.

Cursed centers the actions around the character of Nimue. In the Arthur legend, Nimue eventually becomes the mysterious Lady of the Lake. Everything is present for Cursed to be an epic female-centric fantasy adventure but too many things weigh down the story and make it a bland retelling of the popular legend.

The series follows Nimue, a Fey sorceress, who is persecuted by her own people. From the beginning, I found this odd and a hard pill to swallow. First, the Fey all believe and respect magic. Second, they all seem to be mystical to varying degrees. Yet they persecute the one who actually has magical powers? Sounds like very lazy writing and a weak attempt to make audiences sympathize with the main character from the beginning of the show.

Very early in the story, her entire tribe is brutally murdered by the Red Paladins, a band of religious zealots, who are determined to destroy the Fey and all magic. But it's hard to feel sad for a town that treated Nimue like trash. But you know - lazy writing.

During the whole commotion, Nimue becomes entrusted with the Sword of Power and is told to deliver the sword to the infamous Merlin. It may be called the Sword of Power but we know it's Excalibur. The Sword of Power is reminiscent of The One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. It bestows great power at the cost of the corruption of the bearer.

Which means you need to be ready for a moody Nimue who's mood shifts so quickly you could blame the Sword of Power for the random and poorly timed mood swings.

Throughout the series, much of the excitement stems from character reveals of the popular characters from the original legend. So the series is extraordinarily dependent on audiences being familiar with the medieval lore. Most, if not all, of the characters, quickly become one-dimensional. The show attempts to keep audiences thrilled by the twists of the original mythos.

Arthur is a good looking rogue looking for honor. Merlin is a messy drunk and possibly a traitor to the Fey.

At its core, Cursed is messy. The show doesn’t know what it wants to be and struggles to find its tone. At times it seems like it tries to be a child-friendly show like something you would watch on the Disney Channel. Other times, it tries to be saucy like Game of Thrones.

The pacing and transitions in the series are clunky and lazy. The series attempts to use comic-book-like illustration as transitions between scenes. At first, they seemed like a clever way to transition from one magical place to another. But as the series progressed, the show decided to have significant plot points depicted in the illustrations. This made the transitions feel as if they were a boring placeholder for what should have been an amazing scene with actors.

Plus, I found myself multiple times thinking I had missed key scenes in the show when, in actuality, they were just rushed into an illustration transition scene. This only furthered the poor sense of pacing in the entire series.

The only selling points in this series are the performances by Katherine Langford (Nimue) and Gustaf Skarsgård (Merlin). Even with forced dialogue, which would make most people cringe, these two actors manage to hold enough thrall in their scenes to make audiences to want to see more.

Cursed seems more about selling Katherine Langford to audiences versus keeping them under the spell of the magical Lady of the Lake's origin story.

If you’ve seen any of the fantastic fantasy films or shows then Cursed will most likely feel like a recycled version of them all. But without any of the dramatic impact.

My advice, stick to The Witcher.

Listen to The Geeky Gentleman Podcast Episode 29: Cursed Review & The Top 5 Fashionable Face Masks here!

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Images courtesy of Netflix.

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