Sam Neill Update: Merlin (again), Erotic Artist, Tragic Dingo Victim

I’ve decided one of my favorite things about Sam Neill is how his accent can change pretty dramatically with each movie!

Merlin’s Apprentice (TV Movie) (2006)
For full disclosure: I got this DVD from Netflix and it whimped out on me about 20 minutes in to “Part 2” of this 2-part TV movie. However, Sam Neill’s character died at the end of Part 1, so you can’t make me feel guilty about not even trying to restart. At that point it was pretty much any excuse to stop watching the terribleness. However, I did read a summary of Part 2 on wikipedia, and unfortunately it makes even less sense than I predicted.

This movie has to be a front for something else, right? Sam, what are you doing?

The Movie: So, this is sort of a sequel to Merlin (1998), except it doesn’t follow any of the same story or have any of the same characters, except that Sam Neill is Merlin and Miranda Richardson is the Lady of the Lake, but a different Merlin and Lady of the Lake. I don’t really understand why, but probably because no one else would agree to sign on for this since the plot is ridic. Check it: Merlin is super sleepy after doing all this work to make a perfect Camelot so he finds some cave and goes to sleep. But, whoops, he wakes up 50 years later! Everyone he knows is dead and Camelot has gone to shit. The Holy Grail has disappeared because Camelot is no longer pure, and vaguely-Viking-like barbarian hordes are sweeping ever closer to destroy it. The Lady of the Lake is on their side and helping them with her magic because Camelot has “polluted her waters”. Luckily Merlin finds Jack, a young thief with magical talent and takes him on as an apprentice! Jack has a pig sidekick who may be magical too? Inconclusive. Other characters include: Sir Gawain’s granddaughter, the blacksmith she is secretly in love with, and a girl pretending to be a boy, but not very well. Seriously, she is trying to earn her place as a knight a la Alanna the Lioness, but she is obviously, obviously a girl the entire time. The other characters address her constantly as “Boy!” as if the director knew it was the only way to tell the audience that she’s supposed to be pretending and it’s a huge secret.

Everyone else just thought his voice hadn't broken yet, whatever

The Character: This version of Merlin is a little more serious than in the original TV movie that this is sort of but not really a sequel to. Since Jack is really the main character, Merlin spends a lot of time making seriously melodramatic pronouncements of doom or grumbling about how stupid Jack is. The most ridiculous part is at the end of Part 1 when the Lady of the Lake reveals to Merlin that Jack is HER son. And that he’s a baby daddy. Yeah, Merlin was sleep-raped by the Lady of the Lake. Because she was lonely. Luckily Merlin dies after heroically sacrificing himself to save the people of Camelot pretty soon after that so I didn’t have to watch any more. I thought the pig would definitely turn out to be the Holy Grail in disguise (which would explain why it is kind of magical?) but alas, it’s just a magical pig named Sir Snout. Of course. Of course Gawain’s granddaughter (?maybe) and her illicit “we’re from two different worlds!” love get together in the end as Camelot’s new rulers and Jack gets with the pretend-boy after discovering her secret.

Sam Neill was probably happy to escape after just half of it

Best Sam Neill Quote: (after Jack suggests they could work together) “I’d sooner mate with a dung beetle!”
Or the Lady of the Lake, in your sleep? Ooohhhh.

Sirens (1993)

This week I watched two movies where Sam Neill played an Australian, and he’s pretty good at it! This one also had Hugh Grant. And nudity!

I prefer this cover to the one that's just Hugh Grant's face, trying to look like he can still feel shame

The Movie: Hugh Grant is a stodgy C of E reverend sent to Australia with his wife. The bishop asks him to visit a crazy artist on their way, since he keeps painting erotic pictures with religious themes and won’t stop. Of course, their stay at his villa is a sexual awakening for both husband and wife. Plus, I learn that Australians are totally nonchalant about all the deadly, deadly things that surround them daily.

Like Portia de Rossi

The Character: Sam Neill plays the artist, Norman Lindsey, who apparently was a real guy and also completely awesome. From what I can tell on Wikipedia, Sam Neill captures him well, portraying him as forthright with what we would call a modern attitude about sexuality. Plus he gives off this air of just not caring what you think because, whatever, I’m Norman Lindsey. I get up early, paint some naked girls, and then quietly laugh at Hugh Grant’s puritanical values.

Best Quote: This one is from the real-life Norman Lindsey, after learning that 16 crates full of his art were burned in the US as pornography in 1940: “Don’t worry, I’ll do more.”

Real Life Norman Lindsey: Total Art Badass

A Cry in the Dark (1988)

So this movie, and the true story it’s based on, are both super famous, but I only heard about them in 7th grade when the boy that sat behind me in Life Science kept repeating “Maybe the dingo ate your baby!” in a ridiculous accent whenever the room was quiet. It took me awhile to figure out this was a movie reference (it was 1999, we didn’t just Google everything), but I hadn’t seen the movie he was referencing until this week! So exciting!

Almost every picture you can find of this movie is them hugging dramatically

The Movie: In case, like middle school Patricia, you don’t know this story: Meryl Streep is Lindy Chamberlain, wife of a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor. While on a family vacation to Ayers Rock, her baby daughter Azaria is attacked and eaten by dingoes! Except Lindy is the only witness, and it’s kind of dark, and they never find her body, so people get kind of suspicious and Lindy gets accused of murder. It doesn’t help that she keeps trying to talk to the press and explain her side (it was 1988, before the Internet taught us that saying anything at all just made things worse) or that Seventh-Day Adventism was seen as kind of a freaky cult. Eventually, after she has been in prison for four years, the baby’s jacket is found in a dingo den and she is released!

This was the only picture I could find of Sam Neill's ridiculous shorts. Just know that they were omnipresent.

The Character: Sam Neill plays Michael Chamberlain, Lindy’s husband. He spends a lot of the movie struggling with his faith, and all of it having stupid hair. Meryl Streep is clearly the strong one in their relationship; he seems easily rattled and has a difficult time hiding his emotions. This may be the first character Sam Neill has played that I don’t really like! Even when he’s a psychopathic space murderer I still find him hilarious and endearing, so this was kind of a big deal! Obviously he was playing someone real, which must be more difficult, and I completely understood why he had to be sort of a weepy walrus for most of it–I mean, his daughter WAS eaten by dingoes and then his wife was put in jail. I’ve only watched about 28% of the available Sam Neill movies and TV shows on Netflix (14/50), but so far this is the Sam Neill I’ve liked the least!

Steven and I debated the Sam Neill we liked the most in between comparing the Australian vs. US legal system while watching this movie (one has more wigs!), and decided on probably King Charles II Sam Neill from Restoration. Gotta love a monarch whose not embarrassed to play the “Got your nose!” game with anyone.

Next: Super Croc, Apartheid, and Boat Kidnapping!
Previously: Spaceships, Helena Bonham Carter, Charles II

2 responses to “Sam Neill Update: Merlin (again), Erotic Artist, Tragic Dingo Victim”

  1. Brian says:

    Pretty sure he did that movie so he could put “tragic dingo victim” on his resume. (Also don’t sweat it… I had never heard of it.)

  2. […] Merlin (again), Erotic Artist, Tragic Dingo Victim Next: Total Player, Overbearing Dad, […]

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