12 years after having bowed out on the small screen, the series of Alexandre Astier offers itself a first foray into dark rooms. This first chapter of the Kaamelott saga, eagerly awaited by fans, does it live up to our expectations? Critical.
Over a decade. This is the time it took to Alexandre Astier to develop the suite and end of its series Kaamelott. Broadcast on M6 between January 2005 and October 2009, the pastille quickly established itself as a benchmark in the genre, even surpassing its predecessors such as Camera Café to name but one. With Kaamelott: first part, the director and actor is initiating a new saga, with the ambition of bringing together fans of television productions and cinephiles. Is the first film the announced Sacro-Holy Grail?
In the kingdom of Logre, the tyrannical Lancelot and his henchmen are reigning terror. The gods, insulted by this cruel dictatorship, cause the return of Arthur Pendragon. But the latter does not seem really happy at the idea of reclaiming his throne and dealing with the resistance.
To say that this film is expected is undoubtedly the biggest understatement of this year 2021. Followed by one of the most active communities, the saga Kaamelott made a thunderous comeback in theaters, evidenced by the film’s results on the sale of its premieres. But the pressure is also great for King Arthur, who will have to convince his fans that his future is now being played out on the big screen.
Now freed from the format and budget of the small skylight, Alexandre Astier sees things in a big way. The Lyonnais delivers a medieval epic that is both funny and moving. In line with season 5 and 6, Kaamelott departs for good from its purely humorous format to bet on a narrative construction more nuanced and much more effective. If you expected to find the iconic replicas of Perceval and Karadoc, Kaamelott: First part prefers renewal… and that’s good! Far from the dreaded fan service (nevertheless present) this first feature film is a renewal for the franchise, which does not lose its taste for the well-felt valve and ubiquitous situations. The Kaamelott recipe has not aged a bit, unlike its actors, and proves to us that French comedy can be something other than a film with Christian Clavier who discovers the joys of ethnic diversity.
Effective episodic storytelling
After an introductory sequence, which serves above all to hang up the wagons and to attract neophytes into its nets, the intrigue of Kaamelott: first part gains in intensity, but does not quite contrast with that of the series. Episodic, this first chapter relies on a plurality of places and intrigues to bring to its conclusion that we already imagine grandiose. The goal is obviously for Alexandre Astier to continue the construction and evolution of his characters to lay the groundwork for his medieval adventure. On screen, characters appear and disappear with the sole purpose of preparing Arthur for his destiny as ruler and in his quest for the Grail. If the proselytes could get lost along the way, the fans have embarked on this familiar yet so different universe.
When we think of Astier, we obviously think of the musicality of the scriptwriter’s dialogues and this first part proves us right. With their characteristic phrasing, the characters indulge without displeasure in verbal jousting and inspired puns. If sometimes this will tend to weigh down the story a little, which is more ambitious than that of the series, we do not shy away from our pleasure to find a depressed Léodagan, but still as acidic and a Juniper certainly less light nevertheless still as funny.
Return of the Jedi and … of King Arthur
Alexandre Astier has never hidden his love for pop culture and science fiction. Several times in the series, the screenwriter had strived to give a few nods to monuments of the genre like Star Wars or even Stargate. Here, it is all the intrigue which seems to have been inspired by the work of George Lucas. A sort of return of the Jedi, the film is intended to be the introduction of a vast trilogy (a choice that is not trivial) which should give viewers their dose of annual spectacle.
Still, sometimes Alexandre Astier does not seem to fully explore the capabilities offered by the big screen. Despite his choice to film his feature film exclusively in Alexa 65, a second in France, the frame of Alexandre Astier sometimes lacks ambition. If the particular grain of the camera used in particular for Joker Recipe, we would have liked the director to completely free himself from the visual codes of his series to reinvent it on the screen. However, the palette of colors used by the filmmaker transports the viewer to lands never before explored by the series and the trip is definitely worth a look.
Note also the incredible work on the costumes as well as the music. The screenwriter, director, but also composer has more than one trick up his sleeve and has composed a score that could thrill John Williams and others. We will not fail to listen again and again, the horns that resonate from the first seconds of this film.
— SND (@SNDfilms) July 15, 2021