REVIEW / FILM OPINION – After many years Alexandre Astier has finally been able to edit the film “Kaamelott First Part”, particularly awaited by fans of the series. But was the wait worth it?
The king’s return
Alexandre Astier will have taken more than ten years to assemble Kaamelott First part. A long battle for the director and screenwriter who was uncompromising to live up to his ambitions. He said it over and over, the sequel and end of Kaamelott will be in the cinema with a trilogy. With such a project, it was thus necessary to meet the expectations of the fans who followed the series in the form of sketches of three minutes in its beginnings, before moving on to episodes of more than forty minutes for the last two seasons. But alsoattract neophytes with a sufficiently accessible story. And as for the diehards who do not adhere to the humor of Kaamelott, remember that the tone of the series has evolved with its format, becoming more and more dramatic.
It is therefore in a spirit of adventure and tragedy that begins Kaamelott First part. As the king has retired, leaving his place to the tyrannical Lancelot, the kingdom is at its worst. Saxon mercenaries are hired to find Arthur and his former supporters. And if some secretly hope for the return of the king, not sure that Arthur is ready to take back power …
In a kingdom of Brittany far, far away …
Star wars is certainly one of Alexandre Astier’s biggest influences. Winks to the saga created by George Lucas were already present in the series. It is now the very construction of the film’s plot that seems to directly echo it (the desired trilogy format is not trivial). Indeed, in addition to the excellent musical composition which could have come from John Williams himself, Astier presents his double Arthur like a Luke Skywalker on the return – that of Star Wars VIII. A formerly glorious man who has willingly stepped away from the world and no longer feels capable of getting involved. He is nevertheless pushed by secondary characters (including the Duke of Aquitaine, very good Alain Chabat) who are only waiting for his rebirth.
Everything must then revolve around the king, and Alexandre Astier never tires of filming himself from all angles to highlight his character. Nothing new, in itself, compared to the last episodes of the saga. Except that what possibly worked on the small screen, sins more in the cinema where the limits of a staging are more visible. At least, the indulgence may not be the same. Visually therefore, Kaamelott First part is not not always at the level of the great adventure film expected and sought after. And this, despite a commendable desire to film outdoors. We then think of Excalibur (1981) or Conan the barbarian (1982), but with a few decades of delay.
A mix of genres that falls flat
More annoying, the limits of Kaamelott First part are found in his script and the mixture of two styles. As we have said, the end of the series saw Alexandre Astier make a more dramatic turn. The first part of the feature film (rather successful) immediately tends towards the adventure film. We are witnessing a setting up of the stakes with introduction of the characters. Only, this implementation drags on. The fault, in part, to the use comic elements specific to the series.
In short three-minute episodes, the nonsense blasted by Perceval and Karadoc amuse, just like the shouting matches between Léodagan and his wife, or the hysteria of the Jurisconsult played by Christian Clavier (true to himself). In a long format, whose primary wish is, once again, to be a true epic, these passages fall flat and break the rhythm.
Unequal, Kaamelott First part thus drags itself in length. The proposed comedy lacks the bite of the series and never manages to fully mesh with the rest. All the more damaging as the whole story ultimately comes down to few things, few twists and turns and surprises. We will note all the same some courage on the part of the production and of Alexandre Astier for coming to the end of this project. We are still talking about a big French production in a world of chivalry / fantasy which is currently not the most selling. A laudable and defensible risk-taking, but not enough to meet such a long wait.
Kaamelott First film by Alexandre Astier, in theaters on July 21, 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.