I bet I know what you are thinking: “What is this Disney Movie and why haven’t I heard of it?” Hate to burst your bubble, but this is not a Disney movie it’s Warner Bros. (though given it was 1998 during Disney renaissance I can understand the confusion.) Unfortunately the film did not do as well as Warner Bros. would have liked, both box office and critically, and the studio ended up loosing $40 million. However the film did develop a bit of a following after the success of the soundtrack and while probably not a must watch for a kid it is still enjoyable. Spoilers ahead.
Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig as an adult, Sarah Rayne as a child and Andrea Corr singing) wants to be a knight like her father Sir Lionel (Gabriel Byrne), a knight for the Round Table, yes King Arthur’s round table. During a meeting Ruber (Gary Oldman), a knight desiring to be king, tries to kill Arthur (Pierce Brosnan and Steve Perry singing) but Sir Lionel saves Arthur at the cost of his life. Years later Ruber returns to take over by stealing Arthur’s sword Excalibur. Ruber’s griffin (Bronson Pinchot) does steal the sword, but thanks to Merlin (John Gielgud)’s falcon Ayden (Frank Welker) the sword falls into the forbidden forest. Ruber seizes his army, including the comical rooster Bladebeak (Jaleel White) and Kayley’s mother Juliana (Jane Seymour with Celine Dion (yes that Celine Dion) singing) to gain entry into Camelot. Kayley escapes and decides to go after the sword, gaining allies in Garrett (Carey Elwes with Bryan White singing) a blind hermit and a two headed dragon Devon and Cornwall (Eric Idle and Don Rickles) in her quest.
This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid and I still watch it every now and then. I am a huge fan of the Arthur myth and while I haven’t seen every version this is probably my favorite of the ones I’ve watched; which includes The Sword in the Stone. I get why the story itself gets a lot of grief, but as a kid I didn’t mind.
However the most successful part of the movie is the soundtrack, with spectacular songs. Here are some of my favorites: “On my Father’s Wings” by Kayley as she grieves for her father and how much she wants to keep him alive through her, “I Stand Alone” is Garret’s song about how he doesn’t play well with others, there is a reprise when he doesn’t feel good enough for Kayley and “Looking through Your Eyes” a romantic duet between Kayley and Garret as they fall in love. The most famous song from the soundtrack is Julianna’s number, you may have heard of it, “The Prayer.” That’s right people, the song famously covered by Celine Dion, Andrea Bochelli, Josh Groban and just about everyone doing an opera number on the talent shows came from this little known movie. First time I heard this song outside the movie I thought, “this cannot be the same song I heard” but no it was and I could not have been more gleeful. Whenever someone tells me they haven’t heard of the movie but the song I always say check it out, and I’m telling you the same thing. Regardless if you are a kid or an adult this movie is great and I highly recommend it.