May 22, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a C

The success of Disney’s animated features has revved up the competition from rival studios, but that hardly means we’ve entered a cartoon golden age. If anything, movies like ”Anastasia” and the new Quest for Camelot only increase one’s appreciation for the zigzag wit and middlebrow emotive sweep of Disney fairy tales like ”Hercules.”

When Lionel, a Knight of the Round Table, is killed defending King Arthur from the evil Ruber, a strapping baddie who looks like Marilyn Manson as drawn by Picasso (he’s voiced by Gary Oldman in full cornball-nasty cry), Kayley, the good knight’s saucer-eyed and — yes — very spunky daughter, searches for the magical sword Excalibur, which has been stolen and lost in the Forbidden Forest. There, she meets a cantankerous two-headed dragon (voiced by Eric Idle and Don Rickles) as well as a slithery-skinned computer-generated colossus and a hero who’s tall, hunky, and blind (not to mention bland). The images are playful and serviceably lush, but the story and characters might have come out of a screenwriting software program, and the songs (sung by Celine Dion and Steve Perry, among others) are Vegas-pop wallpaper. C

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