Camelot: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Running Time: 515 Mins.
- Discs: 3 (3 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: September 13, 2011
- List Price: $59.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Coming off the success of their naughty and action-fueled historical series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the Starz network was ready to dive into a different arena, fantasy, and take on powerhouse HBO and their new fantasy costume drama Game of Thrones head on. What better subject to tackle than the legend of King Arthur and Camelot? When I first heard of Starz’ plans to reinvent Camelot, I was cautiously optimistic. This story has been done may times over, with varying degrees of success, but mostly with failure. It didn’t take long to realize that Starz’ new series would fall into the failure category.
An ill-conceived, under-budgeted fantasy/drama that unfortunately miscast one its pivotal characters, nay, the pivotal character, Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower), Camelot would start off slow and become an anachronistic take on the Arthurian legend. Walking a thin line between authenticity and contemporary political correctness, what we were given was a multicultural land with “modern” women and a feeble boy king unconvincing in any way that he would one day become the great legend to unite a people.
The lopsidedness of the casting is so horrendous, that those playing Morgan (Eva Green), Arthur’s shape-shifting sister who is after his throne, Merlin (Joseph Fiennes), the sorcerer at Merlin’s side with foreboding visions of the kingdom to come, and Igraine (Claire Forlani), Arthur’s biological mother cast out from her home by the evil Morgan upon King Uther’s death, all outshine everyone else; they could be a series unto themselves with Arthur a tertiary character.
Still, there are a few good twists to the classic tale in Camelot such as how Arthur recovers the sword in the stone, a remaining of the Lady in the Lake and the naming of Excalibur that finds Merlin at pains over the death of a little girl due to his use of sorcery and more. It’s still just not enough to overcome the many weaknesses in the series on the whole.
The limited budget of this series shows in a lot more ways than one when it comes to the image quality for this 1080p/24 AVC encodement of Camelot. Not only do some of the visual effects look obviously fake, but the high definition imagery is somewhat low contrast and heavy with video noise in many darkly lit scenes. This leads to a softening of detail and distracting artifacts that take away from what is meant to be elaborate set and costume designs. On the positive side, flesh tones look good and colors are generally strong and natural, even if blacks tend towards the greyish side.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is the true strength of this release. Form the chatter of townsfolk in Camelot to the clanking of swords, this mix surrounds listeners in a cohesive and dynamic soundfield, with deep and tight lows, easy highs, and clean dialogue.
Though provided with a hefty amount of high definition supplements on the third disc, most of them are the typical self-congratulatory featurettes with cast and crew offering their praises for one another and the show. The best supplements is the Camelot Chronicles: Pop-Up History, which gives lots of detailed background information on the legend of King Arthur and its various literary and historical sources.
The supplements provided with this release:
- Camelot Chronicles: Pop-Up History – Historical Information about King Arthur and the Middle Ages.
- Camelot Chronicles: Pop-Up History
- Camelot Chronicles: Pop-Up History
- Starz Studios: Camelot (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:14:32)
- Camelot Character Profiles (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
- The Knights (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:12)
- The Women of Camelot (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:47)
- Candid Camelot (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:18)
- Scene Breakdowns:
- The Lady in the Lake
- Fire at the Castle Pendragon
- The Sword in the Stone
- On the Set: Mooney’s Movie (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:53)
- Camelot Blooper Reel (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:29)
The Definitive Word
If you want fine fantasy on television that rises to near Tolkienian levels in its depth of character and worlds, then skip Camelot entirely and go straight to HBO’s Game of Thrones. This Blu-ray set may only be worth it to check out the excellent performances by Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green, and Claire Forlani, as well as to get a look at the latter two lovely ladies in a reasonably strong HD Blu-ray transfer.
Additional Screen Captures