The latest Netflix fantasy adventure, Cursed, arrives courtesy of creators Frank Miller (Daredevil, The Dark Knight Returns) and Tom Wheeler (The Cape). The pair have adapted their own book for the screen, replete with the hallmarks of the fantasy genre.
This dramatic retelling of the legend of Arthur follows the story of the “sorceress saviour” Nimue – aka the Lady of the Lake – played by Katherine Langford (of 13 Reasons Why fame) and supported by a cast that will be familiar to Netflix patrons. But viewers will likely be asking whether Cursed is all that different from other titles in the genre. “What if the sword chose a queen?” asks the tagline for the streaming giant’s latest blockbuster series. Inevitably, talk surrounding the release of this highly anticipated, female-focused historical fantasy branded the concept “timely”, “necessary” and “powerful”. So how does it live up to its considerable hype in the first episode, named Nimue after the story’s lead? Disappointingly, it settles into a formulaic, somewhat unadventurous plot.
The pilot centres on the theme of Nimue feeling like an outcast. In a whirlwind opening five minutes, our protagonist’s essential story arc is pretty much laid out. The sorceress is clearly ostracised from her wood-dwelling community, labelled a “demon” among other things by those who fear her. We also learn that she has supernatural powers, and in a ritual with the elders, is unwillingly chosen as the summoner of her people, the sky folk. So, with power and responsibility she never asked for, Nimue must navigate a treacherous world and come to terms with her abilities. Things are only complicated further when she is tasked with ferrying a magical sword to the mysterious Merlin.
In one sense, Cursed is particularly pertinent given people’s corona-induced craving for escapism, and to that end, it’s a wholly welcome and necessary fantasy adventure. The feeling cannot be escaped, however, that the series is filler for the capacious Netflix algorithm, a place to lose yourself for a few hours once you’ve finished a similar project – of which there are many.
Cursed is released on Netflix on 17th July 2020.
Watch the trailer for Cursed here: