It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Quest for Camelot" is still another big studio attempt to wrest the crown of family animation away from Disney. It's from Warner Bros., which scored with the bright and amusing "Space Jam," but now seems to fall back into the pack of Disney wannabes. The animation isn't vivid, the characters aren't very interesting, and the songs are routine.
"Space Jam" and Fox's "Anastasia" are the only recent non-Disney features to steal some of the magic from Walt's heirs. Since "Quest for Camelot" cost a rumored $100 million and yet lacks the sparkle of a "Beauty and the Beast," perhaps it's time for Warner to explore a different approach--perhaps animation aimed at the teenage and adult market, which does so well in Japan.
"Quest for Camelot," like so many animated features, is a template onto which superficially new characters are plugged. We need a young hero, and get one in Kayley, the brave teenage daughter of Lionel, one of Arthur's knights. Lionel of course is killed in an early scene while defending Arthur, because the heroes of animated films must always lack at least one parent (later, Kayley's mother is conveniently kidnapped).
We also need--let's see, a villain (Ruber, the evil and jealous knight), a villain's cruel sidekick (the wicked griffin) and a villain's good-hearted sidekick (Bladebeak the chicken). We need a young man to help the heroine on her quest (Garrett, the blind forest dweller), and a hero's noble friend (a silver-winged falcon) and the hero's low comedy team (Devon and Cornwall, the two-headed dragon). Then have Ruber steal the magic sword Excaliber, and have Kayley and Garrett try to recapture it, throw in some songs and a lot of animated action, and you have your movie.