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In order to better ground the tale, the filmmakers have removed references to sorcery (much as Wolfgang Petersen stripped the gods out of Troy).
Tristan & Isolde begins shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire, probably around the 7th century.
(After what happened with Kingdom of Heaven, Scott is probably used to being screwed by the studios.) Tristan & Isolde is based on a very old British legend that tells of the doomed love between a Briton (Tristan) and an Irish princess (Isolde).
It is believed that the story of Tristan and Isolde may be the inspiration for that of Lancelot and Guinevere and, at least as presented in Reynolds' version of the story (penned by Dean Georgaris), the Arthurian elements come to the fore.
O'Hara's increasingly over-the-top turn is almost laughable, but Myles ("Underworld") does have some presence.
And Sewell is considerably more restrained than he was in "The Legend of Zorro." "Tristan & Isolde" is rated PG-13 for strong scenes of violence (sword fighting, arrow fire, hand-to-hand combat and beheadings), simulated sex, some gore, some brief drug content (use of herbal medicine and poisons), and some sexually suggestive talk (including innuendo).
What's more, director Kevin Reynolds' sluggish pacing makes the film feels twice as long as it really is.
Most of the cast struggles with affected speech, but none are worse than Franco's English accent, which sounds different from scene to scene.
Fate has different plans, however, as Isolde's father offers her up as a prize to the British lord who can unite the various warring territories.
So she is betrothed to Lord Marke, whom Tristan has come to regard as his father.
Unlike the opera, this version of the tale features no mystical elements and comes off as horribly contrived.
The advertising campaign (to the extent that there is one) compares Tristan & Isolde with Romeo & Juliet. The better association, as indicated above, is Arthur (Lord Marke), Lancelot (Tristan), and Guinevere (Isolde).
In fact, just making that comparison gives away a lot of the plot.