Avalon High (2010)

avalonhighSo why am I reviewing a movie adapted from a teen book I’ve never read in to a film on a channel meant for preteens starring a bunch of actors I’ve never heard of before? Well, because admittedly, “Avalon High” really peaked my interest while changing the channel (and uh… staying on… “Wizards of Waverly Place for a half hour, don’t judge me) and I really had to see what kind of movie “Avalon High” was. As a kid in middle school I was absolutely enamored with the legend of King Arthur and always found the myths and folklore to be absolutely amazing. From the lady in the lake, Excalibur, Merlin, the round table, Mordrid. Camelot, the love triangle of Arthur, his best friend Lancelot, and Guinevere, it’s all rather entertaining and compelling to research, and watching “Avalon High” I realized if I was thirteen this movie would have been watched by me thirty times a day.

Realistically though “Avalon High” is geared a little more toward the girls of the audience appealing to the female empowerment aspect, as well as portraying the men as hunky and charming while never quite pandering to the boys as most Disney movies do. I assume the whole myth about the round table and knights will appeal to the male persuasion. Hate to break it to Disney and the folks behind Avalon High, but the premise of football players being reincarnations of King Arthur and his knights is not a new concept, it’s not even original. It’s always reliable to paint an athlete as a once former valiant hero, but what does it say for audiences who aren’t fit for sports? If audiences are suspecting this entire film will end in one big victorious rumble with Will as Arthur then… you’d better think again. Shocking enough the entire film comes to a close in the school’s theater department and was quite reminiscent of the climax of “Scream 2” where for twenty minutes it’s nothing but a stand off of various characters giving one another big revelations and speeches.

WIll, Marco, Miles, Allie, and Mr. Moore end up in the same room shouting things at one another and we learn the big twist that is accompanied by another big twist that, while surprising, is just absolutely dizzying. “Avalon High” is pretty goofy in the finale, but for what it does with the Arthurian mythology, it’s actually quite interesting and clever. Allie Pennington and her parents just moved in to town and her parents, both fanatics about Arthurian legend, just alerted their daughter that after years of jumping from town to town they’re staying for the duration allowing Allie, an optimistic and fierce young girl, to socialize and engage in school activities. Allie’s life is so peppered by Arthurian legend that she is also plagued with vivid dreams of herself and other knights battling on the beach in full regalia. Avalon High is of course a school based around Arthurian legend as well as Allie soon finds herself embroiled in school relationships as school football hero Will Wagner is pressured to win the big football game as the star quarterback.

He is unaware that his best friend Lance is seeing his long time girlfriend Molly Quinn behind his back and Allie has caught on to their secret romance, but can’t tell Will worried it may cause a rift among the football team The Knights. Any of this sounding familiar yet? While “Avalon High” does take the route of romanticism by focusing more on the love triangle and less on the mythos, the movie does have some fascinating twists to its premise offering up characters who are re-incarnations of Arthurian figures that will leave its audience guessing over and over and wondering where this will all play out in the end. Every character has their own gift and their own prophecy, and Allie seems to be intent on convincing Will that he may be Arthur and fulfill his destiny the night of the big game with the help of Miles, and school teacher Mr. Moore. As I said before “Avalon High” is not perfect, it’s really goofy and can cause an eye roll or two. So if we learn that Will isn’t quite what we perceive him to be, then why were any of the romance themes with Will, Lance, and Molly even included in the movie?

Why is it at all relevant? Why didn’t Allie’s parents figure out the big twist before she did if they had the book of the bear, and were told she was having vivid dreams about knights and sword fights? While the big reveal is surprising in a way, it completely turns the movie on its head and reveals the big romantic melodrama and tension to be nothing but filler for the big pay off and it completely ruins the viewing experience for anyone waiting for something respectable and getting just a nod to the females of the viewing audience while not paying attention to the specifics of the plot elements. So is Lance destined to betray Allie? Is Will going to cheat on Allie with Lance? Questions like these shouldn’t even be posed in a kids film, but the writers put themselves in to a corner and don’t even bother to clarify the goofiness of such a twist. It makes the entire movie feel like it was nothing but padding and waste for something that would have been resolved in a much more interesting manner.

But for its faults, the movie is quite clever with strong performances from its young cast particularly Brittney Robertson and Joey Pollari, and I also enjoyed Steve Valentine as the kind Mr. Moore who helps Allie in her quest to save Will and harbors his own little secret no one will see coming. As you may guess, the movie does offer some melodrama, but it also has a rather fantastic action packed climax charging head first in to swords and sorcery and offering some great twists and surprises that will make this a worthwhile venture for an experimental fan of Arthur and his knights. In the mindset of the thirteen year old me, “Avalon High” is a cool and clever twist on Arthurian Legend with some wonderful direction, strong performances, and wicked swords and sorcery play that keep us smiling, but sadly it’s all brought down by the head scratcher ending that leaves many unanswered questions and anachronistic twist that is just pandering to the girls of the audience.