Cursed, a brand new R-rated fantasy collection on Netflix reimagining Arthurian legends, has loads on its plate. A coming-of-age story following a younger Nimue, aka the Girl of the Lake, its 10 episodes attempt to juggle battle, a love story, a medieval land-spanning quest and a well-known future that is ripe to be subverted.
But after a promising begin, it turns into clear Cursed does not have a agency grasp on what sort of present it desires to be, failing to tie all these components into one linked entity. Torn between younger grownup drama and R-rated violence, Cursed appears to resolve it is best to wander into Recreation of Thrones territory, with political intrigue and a single spectacular one-shot battle sequence.
The sweeping English valleys are lovely, and among the imagery evokes co-creator Frank Miller’s comics — Sin Metropolis, 300 and the graphic novel the present relies on. However disappointingly, Cursed’s greatest, yep, curse, comes all the way down to its essential character.
The present in the end fails its younger feminine protagonist, who has all of the cool promise of a sword-wielding heroine destined to steer her individuals to freedom. As a substitute, Nimue flounders in romance and absurd decision-making, with no actual persona that lets her shine because the highly effective enchantress she’s set as much as be.
Be aware: Minor spoilers forward.
We start when Nimue (13 Causes Why’s Katherine Langford) is chosen to be the following Summoner of the Hidden. The position entails defending her druid individuals by utilizing her present to name on the weather.
As a substitute, Nimue rejects the place, calling it a curse. She laments her individuals for casting her out, after a demonic encounter scarred her bodily and mentally from childhood.
Together with comedian aid greatest pal Pym (Lily Newmark), Nimue heads to the docks, however as a substitute of catching the following ship out of there, they arrive throughout Arthur, performed by Devon Terrell — the first Black actor to be forged within the position.
Like many of the characters with legendary names who pop up within the present, Arthur has a number of quirks that mark him as totally different from what we have historically seen. Other than a good looking singing voice, he is a scruffy knight who charms Nimue, establishing a love story that in the end lacks genuine moments to earn the sparks that fly.
When the Crimson Paladins, magic-hating brokers of the church, invade Nimue’s village, she’s tasked with bringing the Sword of Energy to Merlin (Vikings’ Gustaf Skarsgård). However Merlin is not at his magical greatest, ingesting away his sorrows as a substitute of doing what his boss, a petulant Uther Pendragon, asks of him.
Politics amongst kings, together with Viking chief Ice King and warrior queen Crimson Spear, simmer within the background and shortly envelope Nimue. She should additionally resolve what to do with the Sword of Energy, which everybody desires.
Whereas it is refreshing to see Nimue shed her conventional antagonistic position, in addition to do greater than merely hand Excalibur over to Arthur, she missteps in an identical option to Daenerys Targaryen. After going from naive would-be queen to non secular determine inspiring the oppressed, Nimue’s crammed right into a storyline that takes all that triumph away.
It is irritating, after we do see her develop all through the collection. Lastly accepting her accountability as chief of the Fey, she makes a number of key choices that repay and, most significantly, rallies the woodland-type Fey tribes. She even earns a memorable title just like the Wolfblood Witch.
However then she tosses the sword down a ravine in a sudden rage, and one character really calls her out for being unreasonably “whiny.” She by no means takes an episode with a mentor to discover the boundaries of her uncommon magic or will get a triumphant second to chunk again at her demons. Worse, she’s confined to the sidelines within the remaining battle to save lots of her individuals and cease the “age of males.”
Nimue dips her foot into being the hero you need her to be with a Surprise Lady pump-you-up second on the finish of the primary episode. But regardless of its intriguing spin on a legendary determine, Cursed fails to depart a long-lasting impression. Overlong and unfold skinny, it finds its centered tempo and otherworldly ambiance fading as surface-level Recreation of Thrones politics get in the way in which. The present is about up for a second season, however essentially the most fascinating facets of its story already appear to be behind it.
Cursed is out now on Netflix.