One of my favorite books is Meg Cabot’s Avalon High. I think if anything because it combines two things I love 1) Meg Cabot and 2) The Arthurian legend.
I know weird combination, right?
The Arthurian legend, admittedly is pretty depressing. Meg Cabot books not so much. However, the two of them combined sort of works. The book itself is not a retelling of the Arthurian legend (thank God), but rather it uses the Arthur mythos to help accelerate various aspects of the plot. I also have to give kudos to Cabot for using aspects of the Arthur legend that aren’t normally used in retelling (a.k.a. The Lady of the Lake). Overall, it’s one of my favorite Meg Cabot books of all time.
The book itself has three manga sequels which I honestly do not care for. I thought the story itself was weak and the artwork was subpar. However, the manga sequel in hindsight was a lot better than that the crappy Disney movie I’m about to review.
First Glance: The first time I watched this film, I was excited. I had set it to record on the DVR as a treat for myself to watch after I finished writing my memo for LRW I. So needless to say, I was overly exhausted when I watched it for the first time and a lot of the crap that I’ll later mention got by me. But it still wasn’t my favorite. I understood that a lot of things change from book to movie, but there were two things that really made me dislike the movie: Miles and the ending. Let’s talk about Miles first. He’s the self insert character for Merlin. In the book the Merlin reincarnation is this cool, quirky English teacher. A character I actually liked and wanted to see in the movie adaption. He really did remind me of Merlin. This Miles insert character not so much. He’s as cliche as you get for the high school nerd that becomes the MC’s b.f.f. And you know what, while I usually like nerds I didn’t like Miles. He thinks rather highly of himself throughout the film and it doesn’t help matters that Disney totally made him a Gary Stu (i.e. he has these super psychic visions).
However as bad as Miles is, he’s definitely more tolerable than that ending Disney decided to give the audience. Disney states the ending was changed to give the movie more of a female empowerment edge. And you know what I say, bull shit.
The ending itself doesn’t make sense on several levels. I won’t go into spoiler specifics here but that little twist ruined an entire subplot of the movie and book. Plus, honestly it just doesn’t make sense. While the twist that the book had did. Cabot’s use of the lady of the lake was brilliant. Simply brilliant. I guess some people could say that the Mouse dumbed down the book so that it’s targeted age group could watch it, but I disagree. I think most kids this age aren’t as stupid as Disney seems to think they are. A little exposition on who the Lady of the Lake is would be all that is needed.
Upon Second Viewing: In preparation of writing this post I watched the again so I could give it a more proper analysis and review some more of it’s technical elements.
The Casting: I seriously think the Disney Channel casting agents just looked at who they had on contract and went from there. No joke. None of them fit. Not even Britt Robertson, who I think is a fairly decent actress but not Elle. And let’s not even get started with Greg Sulkin…..
The Acting: Horrible. Just horrible. Okay, Britt Robertson does a fairly decent job as
Elle Allie, but the rest of the cast with the exception of Jen sucked. For example, Elle’s (I refuse to call her Allie, even though that’s what Disney changed her name to) parents were over the top. And did not come off as parents at all. Then there’s Miles a character that is suppose to be the funny nerd that everyone loves, well he came off as pompous and condescending to me. And while a lot of that was the writing, the actors mannerisms were off as well. Then there is Greg Sulkin’s performance as Will. Poor, poor, Greg. I feel bad that he even got casted in this movie, but that still doesn’t excuse his British accent from slipping several times throughout the movie.
Story: I would say that the movie kept true to the book about fifty percent of the time. The bare bone story is there, but as previously stated there have been some major changes. And these changes are what robs the story of it’s moments of brilliance. I’m going to be honest here, if Meg Cabot wasn’t such a skilled writer, then Avalon High would’ve been a cliched Arthur retelling like…well, the movie.
Overall Rating: Three out of ten. I think if you’re a Cabot fan and for that matter a Cabot fan who really likes Avalon High, you’re going to have some issues with this movie. I get that movies differ tremendously from books, but I think this adaption took too many liberties. Then again, some fans I’ve talked to really like the movie. I guess it depends on how critical you are.