Western Animation / Quest for Camelot


Quest for Camelot (also known as The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot in international countries) is an animated film released by Warner Bros. Animation in 1998. Its voice cast included Gary Oldman as the villain, Ruber; Cary Elwes as the male lead, Garrett; Jessalyn Gilsig as the female lead Kayley; Pierce Brosnan as King Arthur; Sir John Gielgud as Merlin; Gabriel Byrne as Kayley's father, Sir Lionel; Jane Seymour as Kayley's mother, Lady Juliana; and Eric Idle and Don Rickles as a two-headed dragon with the names Devon and Cornwall. The songs also got a cast of singers like Céline Dion, The Corrs and Bryan White.

The film is loosely based on a book by Vera Chapman called The King's Damosel (AKA The King's Damsel), which in turn was inspired by Arthurian lore. However, the film has very little in common with the book, with many of the changes (songs, cute animal characters, anachronistic jokes) done simply as concessions to the Animation Age Ghetto, which was quite strong at the time.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Juliana is blackmailed into betraying her king after her teenage daughter is threatened. Said teenage daughter then escapes and goes off on a dangerous quest to warn the king of the plot, pursued by a madman's minions who are more than capable of killing her. Juliana has no idea where her daughter is or if she's safe for most of the film.
  • Affably Evil: The Griffin, at least when he isn't interacting with the good guys; could arguably even be an example of Dark Is Not Evil, since he's just Ruber's pet anyway. Below is a memorable quote by said Griffin (upon being berated by Ruber for not replying):
    The Griffin: Sorry master, my mouth was full!
  • All There in the Manual: The film novelization and toy merchandise give the names of three of Ruber's mechanical army: Bowhands, Spike Slinger and Swordhands.
  • Analogy Backfire: In "If I Didn't Have You", Cornwall says he'd "be rockin' with the dinos", which is later countered by Devon, who says "You'd be extinct, you'd cease to be!"
  • Animated Musical: Originally planned without songs, it was turned into this by executives that wanted something more in the Disney renaissance vein.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Ruber's potion, which somehow transforms his henchmen into metalized versions of themselves. Not that it helps anyways.
  • Award-Bait Song: Looking Through Your Eyes is the one that has all the trope characteristics, but The Prayer was the one which actually won an award.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ruber — his Twitchy Eye makes it clear. And he's so glad you noticed! He's been working at it for years!
  • Badass Normal: Ruber, the villain, is an ordinary man in a world of Arthurian legend (which has magic, dragons, and the like). However, his skills as a warrior make him borderline unstoppable even before he gets his hands on Excalibur.
  • Beak Attack: The Big Bad uses an evil potion to transform a barnyard rooster into Bladebeak, an armored avian with an axeblade for a beak. Subverted though, despite Taking a Level in Badass, Bladebeak remains inept and incompetent Comic Relief.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Ruber is the only knight of the round table who is not generically attractive. He promptly betrays everyone else - and kills Kayley's father - for his own ambitions
  • Become Your Weapon: Ruber uses a potion that causes this on his army.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Both Arthur and Garrett are quite seriously injured at certain points but neither bleed.
  • Bound and Gagged: Kayley, near the end.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor, poor Griffin. First he is harassed by a falcon that is ten times smaller than he is, then at the very moment we discover he is owned by Ruber he is threatened and harmed. It's all downhill from there, as no matter how loyal he is, he's incompetent as hell, and Ruber has no problems with punishing him for that. At the end, when he finally gets to have revenge on the falcon, he is burned, presumably to death, by a two-headed dragon. On top of that, many consider him The Scrappy, even though in the end he is probably one of the most sympathetic characters in the movie (aside from the leads if they aren't considered Mary Sues). Alas, Poor Scrappy indeed.
  • The Caligula: Ruber
  • The Cameo: When Ruber and his mechanical army arrive in Camelot at the film's climax, Buffy Binford from Brad Bird's Family Dog can be clearly seen in the background. Clearly animators from The Iron Giant came in and decided to have a little fun.
    • Brosnan and Gielgud voice-acting could be considered cameos given how little they do.
    • Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood can be seen in the "If I Didn't Have You" musical number.
  • Character Tics: Ruber has an eye tic when he's agitated, and his irises even tend to disappear.
  • Cool Sword: Excalibur, of course.
  • Composite Character: To the extent that any of the characters resemble the ones in The King's Damosel, Garret appears to be a cross between Gareth (would-be knight, the name) and Lucius (blind loner).
  • Conspicuous CGI: Often, especially the "ogre" (aka the rock monster) and the round table scene.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Once Ruber has Excalibur, he fuses it to his arm so that he can hold it forever. The end result is cool looking, but it doesn't seem to benefit him in any way in terms of sword-fighting and it later gets him killed.
  • Cyborg: Ruber's Mooks, although they're a Magitek version. They're people fused with their weapons and armor by the potion. Ruber refers to them as "mechanical"
  • Dark Reprise: Garret's "I Stand Alone" gets a brief and impressively bitter reprise after he decides not to go with Kayley to Camelot.
  • Deadpan Snarker: At least half the words that come from Garret's mouth are dripping with this.
    • Devon and Cornwall are this, especially towards each other.
  • Deus ex Machina: In the climax, Kayley (with Garret's help) causes Ruber, who has fused his arm with Excalibur, to thrust the sword back into the stone — as he is not the rightful king, he cannot remove it. This is clever. However, it then turns out the inherent magic of the stone, which was only hinted at visually, serves as this, too, since it kills Ruber and heals everyone except Garret.
  • Did Not Think This Through: After finally obtaining Excalibur, Ruber fuses it with his arm to make sure nobody would take it from him despite knowing that Excalibur is a sword that, once stuck into a certain stone, cannot be removed from it by anyone other than the rightful King.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: More of a dragon in this case. Ruber does this to one of the evil dragons while it has him cornered, despite seemingly giving in by tossing away his sword first.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Garret is rather pretty, there's attraction between him and Kayley, and he's blind.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "If I Didn't Have You" is a particularly jarring example as it looks like the kind of short funny cartoon Warner Bros. is rightfully better-known for — randomly placed in the middle of what's supposed to be a dramatic epic.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Briefly, during the fight scene with the ironmen, a mace-wielding thug rises behind Garrett seconds before he whips around and whacks his staff in the thug's crotch.
  • Excalibur
  • Expy: As pointed out by The Agony Booth, the Nostalgia Critic and Lauren Faust (who worked on the film as an animator) Kayley is, both looks and personality-wise, Belle. Faust, commenting on the similarity, goes even further and points out that Garret looks like the human form of the Beast.
    • Garret is often compared to Link due to his green tunic, blond locks, and the fact that he lives in an enchanted forest.
    • Ruber looks and acts eerily similar to Shan Yu from Mulan. Both even die in a similar fashion.
  • Evil Redhead: Ruber.
  • Falling in Love Montage: Kayley and Garret, during their "Looking Through Your Eyes" duo.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: At the end, Ruber meets his demise in that manner where he dissolves into smoke after returning Excalibur back to its stone.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: There seems to be a few in this film:
    • At the beginning of the film, Ruber whilst in a rampage, whacks Sir Lionel hard enough with a mace that kills him, throws down a knight and head-butts another one.
    • The Griffin severely wounds Arthur in the arm, whilst grabbing hold of Excalibur by its large beak.
    • Near the climax of the film, Ruber charges through several knights with his horse, and his henchmen defeat and injure several knights. Plus, Ruber attempts to strike Arthur with Excalibur which is attached to his arm, and tries to attack Kayley and Garrett later on.
  • Faux Action Girl: Kayley, even though she does have a few awesome moments (being able to swing a heavy mace at Ruber, saving Arthur during the climax), for the most part can't back up her claims that she will be a great knight. Somewhat justified, since she is a normal girl with no real combat training.
  • Feelies: The VHS release came with a necklace whose charm featured Devon and Cornwall. Annoyingly, said necklace was under not the shrinkwrap on the new movie, but under the plastic of the clamshell cover — meaning that you either had to partly ruin the cover to get the blasted thing out, or you had a heck of a time lining it up neatly on your video shelf.
  • Forbidden Zone: Entering the Forbidden Forest is normally a death sentence to anyone who enters. The Big Bad and all his minions leave Kayley alone when she escapes into it.
  • GASP!: Juliana does one when Ruber reveals himself, and she has a big one when she realities that Ruber is threatening to kill her daughter.
    • After the Griffin sneezed in the ogre's cave, Ruber, Cornwall, Garrett and Kayley does one individually during their Oh, Crap!! moment, knowing that the ogre is waking up.
  • The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: Devon and Cornwall. Also Bladebeak quoting Dirty Harry for some damn reason.
  • Gilligan Cut: This occurs after Garrett reluctantly allows Kayley to join him.
    Kayley: I just need your help, this once.
    Garrett: Oh, all right, all right! But don't give me any trouble!
    (Later in an another part of the forest, Garrett ends up being drenched on the head with purple slimy liquid from a giant flower)
    Garrett: (groans, whilst wiping off the liquid from his hair) It's a fine mess you've gotten us into, Ayden.
  • A God Am I: Ruber claims this in the climax as he attacks Arthur.
    Ruber: Say hello to your new king!
    Arthur: You're no king!
    Ruber: You're right. Perhaps I'm more of a GOD!!!'
  • Gonk: Ruber. Particularly hilarious when compared to the other knights, they look like they're from completely different movies.
  • Handicapped Badass: Garret.
  • Hand Wave: The only explanation for the moving plants is a blink-and-you-miss-it reference to the forest being "enchanted". Where Ruber got his potion might also qualify - he states in his Villain Song that he bought it from some witches.
  • Happily Ever After: The ending features Kayley and Garret riding off together on a horse which is adorned with a sign reading "Just Knighted." One presumes there was a wedding in there too, but it's never specifically stated.
  • Happily Married: Kayley's parents. He takes care to kiss her goodbye before riding off to Camelot, and it's clear she misses him after his death.
    • Though they're not married per se, Kayley and Garret are as close as ever following knighthood.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Bladebeak undergoes one of these after he finds his mate locked in a cage by Ruber, though he was hardly the embodiment of "evil" to begin with.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kayley's father dies attempting to stop Ruber's attempts to kill Arthur in the beginning of the film.
  • The Hermit: Garret lives in the Forbbidden Forest in self-imposed exile. He's developed a great deal of wisdom there.
  • High Fantasy: The film is loosely based on the King Arthur mythos and involves returning a magic sword to the rightful king so he put down an evil and ugly usurper.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: magically melding Excalibur to his hand proved to be Ruber's ultimate demise because it meant he couldn't let go of it when he was tricked into returning it to the stone. He is then disintegrated to his death, being destroyed by the very same power he planned to obtain.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: King Arthur for knighting Ruber in the first place.
  • Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: During "The Prayer".
  • "I Am" Song: Garret's "I Stand Alone".
  • Identity Concealment Disposal: When he attacks Juliana's farm, Ruber enters the house wearing a face-concealing horned helmet that he then takes off, tosses aside and never puts on again for the rest of the film.
  • Impairment Shot: Happens to Garrett during his backstory after he struck by one of the horses' hoof, and he describes how his sight becomes blurry and blackens completely.
    Garrett: (voice-over) First, all I can see was shapes...then shadows... ...and finally, my world went black.
  • It's All About Me: Ruber.
  • "I Want" Song: Kayley's "On My Father's Wings," in which she expresses her desire to become a knight. The other characters get their own songs, too.
  • I Work Alone: Garret. He also has a song — "I Stand Alone", mentioned above — about this.
  • Just Between You and Me: Ruber details his Evil Plan to Kayley and her mother, mostly in song.
  • Kissing Cousins: Apparently, Devon and Cornwall are the result of this.
    Devon: Frankly, we're the reason cousins shouldn't marry.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Garret.
  • Large Ham: Ruber. Ironically, he's voiced by Gary Oldman, who is not known for such roles.
  • Laughably Evil: Ruber.
  • Left Stuck After Attack: This is how the Big Bad meets his end. The wicked Ruber has used a magic potion to fuse the Excalibur sword onto his hand. With this, he tries to impale Kayley and Garrett, but misses. The blow implants Excalibur firmly in its original stone where the ancient magic detects that Ruber is not the rightful ruler, and disintegrates him for such presumption.
  • Lighter and Softer: The original novel the film is based has a much darker tone and more mature content (in the book, the main character was raped as a kid by a family friend, for crying out loud). The film adaptation was significantly toned down to make it more family friendly.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I will not serve a false king!" Said first by Lionel to Ruber and then, later, by Kayley.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The movie starts with Kayley as a child, later followed by a cameo of a young Garrett during the first song.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Due to Kayley's insistence of blaming Garrett for making the group stop the night before, causes him to miss Ayden's signal and is wounded. She then regrets it when treating Garrett's wound, blaming herself for putting him in harm's way, but Garrett forgives her sympathetically.
  • Nature Hero: Garret.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Devon and Cornwall fall under this, as do Bladebeak and Ayden.
  • No Place for Me There: How Garret feels about Camelot after he was blinded. He briefly parts ways with Kayley when they're about to return Excalibur to King Arthur, as he feels that despite all his bad-assery, in Camelot he would simply not measure up when compared to the Knights of the Round Table. As he tells Ayden, he feels Kayley would only see him "through their eyes. Not a Knight. Not a Man. Not anything..."
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Don Rickles as Cornwall makes absolutely no attempt to hide his American accent, unlike the other few American actors who worked on this film.
  • Obviously Evil: At the beginning of the film we get a panning shot of the Round Table. Seated at it are several identical-looking generic knights... and one creepily deformed one with a banana-shaped head, greenish skin and yellow eyes.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several of these moments:
    • The looks on the knights' faces when Ruber whips out a mace before he charges towards Arthur.
    • Arthur, before he grabs Excalibur at the right time when he sees Ruber charging towards him with a mace.
    • The rooster has one when his mate comes up to him and grabs him.
    • Arthur and his knights all have one when the Griffin burst in the round table tower through the roof.
    • The Griffin, when he sees thorny hands poking out from the forest's thorn branches.
    • Both Kayley and the rooster have one when a shadow of Ruber looms over them.
    • Juliana and her servants each get one when Ruber's henchmen break into their house.
    • Juliana has a bigger one with a GASP! when she realizes that Ruber is threatening to kill Kayley and notices her daughter held hostage by two of his men.
    • The Griffin has one after he realizes that he lost Excalibur that Ruber needs.
    • Kayley has one after seeing two of Ruber's men in the distance before she enters the forbidden forest. She has few of these when they chase after her.
    • Garrett seemingly has one when he hears two of Ruber's men landing in the pond.
    • Devon and Cornwall, and Kayley and Garrett each get one when they hear a dragon.
    • Ruber, Cornwall, Garrett and Kayley each have one after The Griffin sneezed in the ogre's cave when the owner is asleep.
    • Ruber and the Griffin, before the ogre sits on them.
    • The Griffin has one when he realizes that he is flying straight into Ruber who is on the cliff. Ruber has a brief one afterwards before the Griffin crashes into the cliff.
    • Kayley has one when Ruber's minions capture her. She has another one when Ruber merges Excalibur to his hand when his potion.
    • The knights, and the citizens all have one, when Ruber reveals himself, so do the henchmen afterwards, and charges straight towards the castle.
    • Kayley, when she sees the Griffin flying towards her, before he destroys the scaffolding that she was on.
    • Ruber has a bigger one when he realizes that he replaced Excalibur back into the stone, where its magic breaks loose.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They're conjoined twins. And they're purple. And they can't fly (for which they even say they're shunned by their own kind).
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Looks like a traditional griffin, but the one in the story is kind of weird. The bird front half is much larger then the lion hindquarters, and rather than eagle-like the head must belong to a bat-eared-cat-eyed-vulture-beaked thing.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Devon and Cornwall. This is unfortunate for them, as they cannot fly so long as they disagree on everything.
  • The Power of Friendship: Devon and Cornwall lament their inability to fly through most of the movie, then find themselves able to do it once Kayley is kidnapped. Garret realizes that they can't fly unless they agree on things, and pushes them to do so by prompting, "You both love Kayley, right?"
  • Prophet Eyes: While not a prophet, Garret has these eyes because he can still "see" in the Forbidden Forest through his other senses and experience.
  • Purple Eyes: Lady Juliana, Kayley's mom, has them.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Garret delivers one of these to Kayley when they first meet. It doubles as his character song.
  • Rock Monster: The ogre.
  • Scotireland: Camelot basically turns into this for some reason, largely thanks to the sorta-Celtic-ish soundtrack. Riverdance was popular at the time so...
    • Also the involvement of The Corrs. Their style is specially prominent in "On My Father's Wings," which almost sounds like ripped off from their album Talk On Corners.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are lots of Looney Tunes gags to be found here.
      • Most obviously, ACME being written on Ruber's potion.
      • Also during Devon & Cornwall's musical number, at one time they're falling down a canyon ripped straight from a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.
      • Red from Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood makes a very brief cameo appearance in the number, too.
    • The aforementioned number also includes plenty of others:
    • Devon also turns into Godzilla during the song, with the line "I'd be a fire breathing lizard!"
    • Garret is a teenager/young adult dressed in green with a wooden weapon looking in an enchanted forest for a mythical sword. Think about that for a second.
    • During the Final Battle, John Williams ' Superman Main Theme makes an appearance - although, oddly, the subtitles for this scene refer to it as "Star Wars Theme".
    • Garrett and Kayley's embrace during the Through Your Eyes segment resembles the poster from The Princess Bride, which also starred Cary Elwes.
    • Bladebeak quotes Dirty Harry at one point. "You get to ask yourself: do I feel clucky? Well, do ya, punk?"
  • Sidekick Song: "If I Didn't Have You"
  • Slipknot Ponytail: During her escape, Kayley runs into a forest where one of the branches snags her hair tie and undoes her ponytail. After she's freed from Garret's net a short time later, she's seen finding another hair tie and fixing it back up.
  • Small, Annoying Creature: Bladebeak.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "The Prayer" and... well, lots of other songs.
  • Stealth Pun: Andrea Bocelli drops by for an Italian version of The Prayer over the credits. This is appropriate when you remember that he became blind in a very similar manner to Garret, after being hit in the head as a child. Was he perhaps the inspiration for Garret's backstory?
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Ruber's minions being the idiots in question. They take Bladebeak's mate along, but allow Kayley to escape.
  • Those Two Guys: Cornwall and Devon, who happen to share one body!
  • Uptown Girl: Kayley is the daughter of a slain Knight of the Round Table and Garrett was a former stable boy.
  • Villain Song: "Ruber's Song", though with no melody, tune or rhythm it truly stretched to the vaguest of limits what qualifies as a "song". There actually is a bit of rhyming in it, so it's less of a "song" and more of a "long-winded mediocre poem". (Then again, it's Ruber. He's a bit too erratic for a proper song. Oh, and that chugging, insistent music in the back of it all? That's ELECTRO-ROCK MUSIC! That's pretty badass.)
  • Villainous Valour: Ruber is a psychotic murderer, no doubt of it, but you must admit is also exceptionally strong and brave. Just a couple of examples:
    • Kayley tries to hit him from behind with a good-sized mace. He turns around, catches it, and then twists the head. Never mind that the spikes should have skewered his hands.
    • He kills a scary-looking dragon with his bare hands and then cooks it for lunch.
  • Virtue/Vice Codification: Various virtues are lauded in a song sung during the introduction to Camelot such as "trust" and "strength" and "valor".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After only finding the belt of Excalibur in the footprints of the ogre, Kayley blames Garrett for having the group to stop the night before. Little did she know that Garrett is trying to listen Ayden's signal and is badly grazed. She later regrets while tending to his wound.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Devon and Cornwall are drawn to look rather silly and harmless. Bladebeak is also silly-looking. Ayden has a round, sweet face, big soft eyes and cute fluttery movements. In contrast, the "evil" dragons are sharp-toothed, have squinty eyes, and look altogether more feral, and the griffin henchman has another set of scary evil eyes, a long crooked beak, bat ears, and a small head compared to his thick-maned neck — and the voice of Bronson Pinchot (we're not sure what to make of that last thing).
  • What Would X Do?: Juliana and Kayley get into an argument about Kayley's dream to become a knight. After her daughter runs off in anger, Juliana wonders what Lionel would have done about the issue.
  • With My Hands Tied: Kayley is captured and tied up, but is able to sweep her legs under a mook's feet while still tied, giving her time to free herself with Bladebeak's help.
  • You Can't Go Home Again:
    • Why Devon and Cornwall stick around with the group. Apparently, dragons are forbidden to interact with humans.
    • Evoked with Garrett as well when he initially declines to return to Camelot with Kayley after they get Excalibur: on one level there's probably still some bad memories of his time there and the events that led to him seemingly losing any chance of becoming a knight, and then of course his feelings that he would appear inferior and undesirable to Kayley when juxtaposed with the current Knights of the Round Table.
  • You Killed My Father: Kayley's father was killed by Ruber in the opening.
  • You're Insane!: This exchange when Ruber is revealing his plan to Juliana.
    Juliana: You're mad!
    Ruber: I'm so glad you've noticed. I've been working at it for years.