Tristan & Isolde (Kevin Reynolds). 120 minutes. Opens Friday (January 13). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Midway through Tristan & Isolde , Tristan ( James Franco ) asks a friend, "How do I look?" It's Franco's most convincing line reading, and it tidily sums up the film's superficial appeal. This is Celtic myth for the O.C. set.
Dean Georgaris , who wrote the scripts for bombs like Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life and Paycheck, tries to bring the myth down to earth, but he's sunk too low.
After clumsily establishing the Dark Ages setting and confusing political struggles between England and Ireland, Georgaris takes the legendary star-crossed lovers, adds a couple of battle scenes, subtracts the magic potions and gives us two full-lipped, doe-eyed lovers ( Sophia Myles plays Isolde) who only want to doff their heavy 12th-century garb and make out in the forests and rocky shores of Britain.
This is a story that needs passion. It inspired Richard Wagner to write one of his best operas.
Kevin Reynolds , who directed Waterworld, doesn't provide that passion. The two kids say they love each other, but you never believe them -- or him. The most gripping scenes involve arrows and swords.
Thank god for Rufus Sewell 's Lord Marke, the third point in the tale's tragic triangle. I've never warmed to Sewell's cold intensity in films like Dark City. But here, as the cuckolded king, he's got a weathered dignity that makes the film's predictable final third watchable.