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Merlin & The Book Of Beasts

3.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Welcome to the dark side of Camelot: King Arthur is gone. The Round Table is in ruins. And a rogue sorcerer has unleashed a reign of monstrous terror upon the land. For the court’s last remaining knights, their only hope lies in the power of the now-bitter and broken wizard Merlin (James Callis of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA). But can a once-great man of magic defeat a legion of creatures that includes Dragon Soldier, Death Hawks and Gorgons, and still reclaim the legendary castle of lore? Laura Harris of DEAD LIKE ME and 24 co-stars in this epic adventure that puts a savage new edge on the saga of Excalibur, Mordred and the ultimate battle between MERLIN AND THE BOOK OF BEASTS.


James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) is the chief selling point for this medieval fantasy that blends a loose interpretation of the Arthurian legend with a horde of CGI monsters and special effects. Callis, whose brooding Baltar was one of the many reasons to fall for Ronald Moore's Galactica, brings a similar level of intensity to his turn as the wizard Merlin, who joins forces with the daughter of Arthur (Laura Harris), an aging Sir Galahad, and the son of Tristan and Isolde to oppose an evil sorcerer (Jim Thorburn) intent on destroying what remains of Camelot with the titular book of magic. The book, as its name indicates, can summon up all manner of evil creatures, from snake-haired Gorgons and reptile-faced soldiers to a swarm of killer butterflies; the problem is that the quality of the effects used to conjure the monsters is no match for the Harryhausen-esque concepts behind them. Callis gives the strongest performance, and is the sole reason to view the film, though he's decided to adopt a husky tone that occasionally renders him unintelligible; Laura Harris, an otherwise fine actress, is totally miscast as Arthur's sword-wielding progeny. The widescreen DVD includes a brief and forgettable behind-the-scenes featurette as well as the trailer for Dead Space: Downfall. --Paul Gaita

Stills from Merlin and the Book of Beasts (Click for larger image)

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: James Callis, Laura Harris, Jesse Moss, Patrick Sabongui, Donald Adams
  • Directors: Warren P. Sonoda
  • Writers: Brook Durham
  • Producers: Eric Maran, Harvey Kahn, Nadia Mear
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002AT4JOW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,703 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Merlin & The Book Of Beasts" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
though somewhat of a small budget movie Merlin and the Book of Beasts is big on being a unique arthurian tale or parable. king arthur is long passed on, sir galahad is the only one left of the round table alive in this world, camelot now ruled by a dark wizard, merlin is alone in the forest and king arthur's daughter "avlynn" (who looks about in her mid-30s) finds him and asks for help - and so the story begins....

this is a very good little movie with a true heart, down-to-earth, not a bombastic high-budget blockbuster, but i found it interesting and the ending to be a wonderful beginning for merlin. merlin's sense of wit is understated but delightful and has a strange virtue to it, just like the whole movie in general. they play the king arthur lore loose here and there but in a good way with the movie entering into new arthurian territory - as mentioned before, this is post arthur (and with ancient greek monsters, the gorgons, to boot)! but underneath it all this is a story about merlin - from his madness to finding peace, this is merlin's journey.

anyway, that's just one take on Merlin and the Book of Beasts - give it a try, you may find it a pretty good story too!
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Format: DVD
I have mixed opinions regarding the numerous and various Merlin films, both new and older. This 2009 made-for-television flick demonstrates its definite good points and its clear weaknesses as well.

The story: A sort of abbreviated The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition) rip-off in that Merlin = Gandalf; The Arkadian = Sauron; The Book of Beasts = The One Ring of Power. Camelot has fallen, King Arthur is dead, and a nefarious necromancer is dominating the land with his beastly magical book from whence he can generate evil mythical creatures, including gorgons. A remnant band of Arthur's Round Table knights seek out Merlin in his woodland lair to aid them in battling the malevolent Arkadian.

Casting: It's generally very good except for two of the three key characters, Merlin (James Callis) and Avlynn (Laura Harris). Callis conveys a sordid, grunting, gravelly-voiced Merlin, a vocal nuance which seems to serve no useful purpose whatever and it's really hard to follow what Merlin is saying at times. Laura Harris, (playing the daughter of the late King Arthur), seems a bit too inherently fragile and sweet. She just doesn't advance the aggressive and sword-wielding warrior-princess character -- I remained unconvinced. They needed an actress with bit rougher edge. Harris' make-up was all wrong from the start which contributed to the problem.

Cinematography, sets, and locations: Excellent! This was terrific work in all three categories, the film being shot at various breathtaking spots in British Columbia, Canada. The DVD is rendered in enhanced widescreen (1.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Wow!!! People wonder how I can give low budget movies five stars & this movie is a prime example of why & how! The took subject matter that has been worked into the ground ( The Arthurian Legends) & breathed new life into it! Without a multi million dollar budget they took good actors decent special effects & made a movie that entertained me from the beginning till the end! The actor portraying Merlin made him instantly endearing to the audience as far as that goes all the actors in this movie made their characters likeable to the viewer! If you are a fan of the Arthurian mythos or sword & sorcery I wouldn't hesitate to add this to your collection...I'm happy its in mine! Just goes to show a movie doesn't need a million dollar budget to be creative , fresh & fun, fun, fun !! Great movie to bulk up your sword & sorcery collection. Fun for the whole family & great to break out on rainy or freezing weekends! Definitely at the top of the made for T.V. ilk & easy to watch multiple times. Don't pass this one of as the average Sci-Fi channel movie, much better than average!
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Format: DVD
First, the good news: In Merlin and the Book of Beasts, Merlin does indeed make an appearance, as does the aforementioned book.

Now for the bad news. Merlin (James Callis) adopts a thickly accented Welsh dialect that is as irritating as it is undecipherable. Fans of Battlestar Galactica who are familiar with Callis' pleasant inflection will find no solace here. It seems Callis wanted to take on an eccentric role, and he does so with gusto.

The Book of Beasts isn't precisely the Monster Manual one might expect from a fantasy-themed movie. It starts with killer butterflies (ooh, scary!), moves to "dragon knights" which are basically giant zombies, some giant birds that are only heard off-screen (maybe they're griffons?), and then there's the Gorgons.

What? You thought this was a movie about medieval times? Well you can forget it, because The Book of Beasts is one sandal away from Clash of the Titans. The Gorgons themselves are here in all their glory; beautiful until angered, whereupon they turn into snake-haired harpies. The Arkadian who summons them (Jim Thorburn) has a dark secret, but mostly he runs out of ideas and decides to stick with his highest-level monster.

So the Gorgons take up most of the movie, more than the archvillain himself. Throughout the film is another plot about how Sir Galahad (Donald Adams) is leading the return of the next generation of knights, including King Arthur's progeny Avlynn (Laura Harris). But really this is about Gorgons turning people into statues, seducing men, and hissing a lot.

Book of Beasts aims high and fails to achieve its lofty goal as a sort of sequel to the Arthurian myth. The special effects are used wisely to portray the monsters, but there simply isn't enough variety to make for much of a book.
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