Considering the fact that I rated this book 4 stars (you can find my review here), you’d think I’d have high expectations. I don’t really think I did, but I also didn’t know exactly what I was getting into when I began watching the Netflix adaptation of Cursed. Sure, the trailer looked amazing but trailers can be very deceiving.
In case you didn’t know, Cursed is the tv show adaptation of the book of the same name. It is an Arthurian Legend retelling about Nimue, aka the Lady of the Lake, and her journey after acquiring the Sword of Power (traditionally known as Excalibur but in this story, called Devil’s Tooth.). She aims to defend and protect her Fae people after bad church guys, called The Red Paladins, decide to commit genocide and attack Fae villages. On her journey, she meets more well-known Arthurian Legend characters like Arthur, Merlin, and Morgana. She is also able to use magic by ‘calling to the Hidden’, which isn’t explicitly explained in the book but was given more context in the show.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so I kept myself open-minded and tried to take in as much as possible from an objective point of view. Emphasis on ‘tried’. So let’s review this TV show from what I’ve watched – because I didn’t watch it all.
Initial Impressions: Mix of Pros & Cons
From the first episode, I loved the music. The music and the setting were so much more beautiful than I expected and I loved that. Note: I also really wanted to watch this adaptation because Katherine Langford plays the protagonist, Nimue, and she’s Australian so we gotta back our Australian actors. During the TV show, I’d say that her acting and the acting of all the cast members were great – given the script and the plot that occurred. So no complaints about the stars of the show, but from episode one; the script wasn’t doing well already.
Many of the lines felt so cringe at times, definitely nowhere near the atmosphere given from the book but I really enjoyed how they weaved in the flashbacks. It was immersive and gave a lot more context visually than it did in the book. By the end of episode 1, it was clear that their CGI budget wasn’t amazing but that’s not a dealbreaker cause it’s a production thing. The Order had a very small CGI budget but I still loved that show. While the magical elements looked like how I expected, I didn’t expect Nimue’s sword skills to look so awkward on-screen. The standout when it came to the production was definitely the cinematography, I really enjoyed many scenes and how they were shot.
The introduction of characters was great, especially the characters I really really hated in the book that came across quite well on screen. As much as I hate characters, it says something when you feel so much emotion for a character that you wish they were dead.
Similar to my experience reading the book, I wasn’t a fan of the gore. There was SO much killing and fake blood going everywhere, and when I said I hated the art in the book? I think the art in the show is even worse and the integration with the live-action scenes were atrocious. I think Daniel Greene really put my feelings and reaction into words to the ending scene of the first episode quite well on his Episode 1 review of Cursed, where he also makes light of the ridiculous sword-waving going on there.
I also felt that wardrobe could’ve been done a bit better so that the outfits look more authentic. A lot of outfits looked so new like they were a costume for a play rather than actually what people in medieval times wear day-to-day. Not to mention that poor Katherine seemed to be the only stuck in a tight corset the whole time.
The Big Problem: Big Big Con.
The main thing I kept thinking before watching was, this tv show was in production before the book even came out. The creators knew what was coming out in print before the show aired, so it had to be accurate to the book right? Mm. Wrong.
From episode 1 to episode 2, things were going smoothly according to the book, I was feeling really happy about the plot and where it was going. Then, we hit episode 3 and the plot started deviating from the book and I was MAD. So MAD. This book was literally published after the tv show began filming and both are not congruent. Both are not on the same page.
I would’ve been fine with it, if they had deviated in a way that was productive to the story and actually added more elements of depth. One example of this kind of deviation is how they added a side-story element of Nimue’s best friend, Pym, who is pretty much thought dead in the book when the Red Paladins first attack Nimue’s village (not spoilers btw).
Majority of the plot deviation felt like stalling, and that showed the truth of what was happening to this show – they were changing the story to drag out the content in an unnecessary way. I would’ve preferred getting a 6-episode Season 1 from this show if it had stuck true to the book’s turn of events. So the main problem I had that with this adaptation was that, as a fan of the book, it removed or added more scenes that just felt unnecessary.
As the cringey dialogue continued, I wasn’t feeling so motivated to keep watching. Some scenes I had been looking forward to were gone and some were altered so much that I just did not enjoy them. I started putting the show on while I cook or workout, so I wasn’t really watching it properly and by mid-episode 7 (out of 10 episodes) – I couldn’t force myself to watch anymore.
This show could’ve been so much better – the potential is immense and the potential is there. It was just such a huge disappointment. The cast was great, the sets were great, sword-fighting could’ve been a little more skillful and CGI/art could definitely be improved but the plot became lackluster after a few episodes and the momentum was lost.
My Verdict: The BOOK was better.
I saw that this show was in the top 10 for Netflix Australia so I do hope that others who watched this show and didn’t read the book enjoyed it for what it is but personally, not a favourite. It couldn’t keep me engaged and frankly couldn’t make me care.
I’ll be recommending the book over this tv show adaptation any day.
What’s a TV show adaptation that disappointed or surprised you?
I’m looking forward to reviewing a Book to Movie adaptation next and letting you guys know what I think. If you have any requests, leave them in the comments below!
Until next time,