A "Braveheart" wannabe that lacks the passion and power, "Tristan and Isolde" is a so-so medieval romantic action movie that probably deserved a better reception than it received, but will quickly be forgotten on DVD.
"Tristan and Isolde" is directed by Kevin Reynolds, who directed the rather good "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," so his experience with engaging castle dramas is quite high. Starring James Franco, Rufus Sewell and lesser-known Sophia Myles, the movie is your fairly standard medieval story, not unlike the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere. Franco plays Tristan, a well-respected knight and loyalist to his king, played by Sewell. Tristan falls in love and starts an affair with Isolde (Myles), only to watch as his king, unknowing of their pre-existing relationship, weds her. However, the affair continues, which eventually threatens everything, including an important treaty that is needed to maintain the kingdom's stability.
There is nothing inherently wrong with "Tristan and Isolde." The acting is good enough, as I rather enjoy Franco and Sewell in general. The chemistry between the two leads is quite believable, and Sewell especially delivers a solid performance as the king, a character who is torn much like King Arthur was after discovering the betrayal of his most favorite knight. Up until the end it is hard to determine which direction he will go.
The movie also features some decent action sequences, but the action is also where the movie falters. No individual scene is poorly done, but Reynolds never establishes a consistent pace or threat. The movie goes from one action scene to the next while at the same time attempting to be a romantic drama, and something just doesn't click. At one point it appears as though the king is going to be the main antagonist, but then a new one comes into the fold at the end. Furthermore, the final half hour seems rushed. The ending is also a tad cheesy.
"Tristan and Isolde" is a decent medieval action movie, but the film never flows together well enough to take things to the next level.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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