After murdering King Uther (Eric Bana), his brother Vortigern (Jude Law) takes the crown by force, cutting out the true heir, Arthur, completely. Robbed of his inheritance, Prince Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grows up in a brothel and is forced to make his own way on the streets. But when he pulls sword (Excalibur) from the stone, he has to fulfil his destiny, no matter if he likes it or not. When he’s seen to pull blade from the rock, rebellions sprout up across England in his name. And it seems everyone wants to depose his uncle, including the rest of England, except for him. He wants to go back to beating on Vikings and hustling. Though, it’s not as easy as all that.
What happens when you have Jax Teller, Petyr Baelish, One Hundred Eyes and Young Pope in a film? The finished product is a cocktail of medieval madness. Did I forget to mention David Beckham’s cameo role too, where they have tried to make him as ugly as possible? At least here his lack of proper diction fits the tone of the Camelotian underbelly. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is probably the most-Guy Ritchie movie that Guy Ritchie has ever done, opening with a cool scene showing a brief origin of Excalibur with King Uther (Bana) which showed no more than five minutes or so of necessary exposition to the events that happen before this story even begins.
This movie could have been a great franchise builder… if it didn’t bomb in a style of biblical proportions. I enjoyed this movie and I would have liked a sequel, perhaps calling it King Arthur: Knights of the Round Table? A lot of the reviews are along the lines of this is not how the story is meant to be. Well, I did not hear the same criticisms when Guy Ritchie did Sherlock Holmes as a Victorian James Bond. But hey, I’m just a kid from Britain who writes a blog. Yes, this isn’t your normal Arthur movie and that adds even more mystery to it. And Guy Ritchie’s approach to the story is an interesting one, that you will either like, or hate with every bone in your body.
This is a medieval drama, but we’re also witness to his quick-editing and darting voice-overs, not so different to Lock Stock and Snatch. This is his style, and he’s one of those directors that has a specific style that people will either love or hate. Tarantino is another one. It’s a modern take on a period tale, as depicted with the streetish attire of many characters. This is what happens when the 21st century clashes with the period. From the story to the soundtrack to the Guy Ritchieness, it’s a bold and entertaining film. Though, I do think with this cast and the creative talent involved, it would do better as TV series, and that’s not just to quench my withdrawals for BBC’s Merlin.
This film is fun medieval mayhem. Yet, it was highly predictable that this film would bomb outside of Britain. I’m interested to see how this film will do with British audiences in its run. It’s well-written, the dialogue is very British, and the humour is too. Sarcasm is not something that is universally understood outside of the UK, especially in the United States. It’s something America will never understand. Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) as Arthur is brilliant. They couldn’t have cast a finer actor. And it’s shown me he could play the wisecracking Oliver Queen in the DCEU if Warner Bros ever went down that road in a post-Justice League universe.
The supporting cast were also very good, including a brutish-looking David Beckham. From Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) to Tom Wu (Marco Polo) to Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) to Astrid Berges-Frisbey (On Stranger Tides) as The Mage, to Peaky Blinders’ Annabelle Wallis, I enjoyed all the supporting characters. But I think my favourite was certainly The Mage who’d steal everyone’s XP by committing acts of badassery on their enemies, as depicted in the final stage when she summons a massive serpent. I don’t mean just big, I mean outright, flipping enormous like it was straight out of Newt Scamander’s case of fantastic beasts.
It was also great to see Katie McGrath, who previously played Morgana Pendragon in another Arthur-related product, Merlin. Criticisms have said things along the lines that the fight scenes were video games-esque. They are, that’s why I enjoyed them and they didn’t become a gimmick, as they well could have done in the wrong hands, especially in the last battle which was like the Big Boss Battle in any Tekken-esque fighting game. Along with Katie McGrath, we were also witness to the top banter between Michael McElhatton’s Jack’s Eye and Arthur (Hunnam). After seeing Elhatton in The Zookeeper’s Wife, I’m glad to see he’s getting out there a bit more.
When I go into a blockbuster movie screening or when I watch them at home, I don’t not to expect too much, nor do I expect Oscar-worthy aesthetics and performances. In this hate-bating culture we now find ourselves in, as well as an internet-centric one, I feel audiences expect too much since we consume so much on a daily basis. I don’t expect much from films like King Arthur or comic book movies or Baywatch because they’re made to entertain, not to exhibit intelligent uses of symbolism and metaphor that make you go WOW. And with Legend of the Sword, I left feeling gratified. I was entertained, enthralled and felt better leaving than when I went in. Great job!
From the performances to the effects to the story to the musical score, King Arthur is medieval fun that entertains for the two-hours-or-so-running time. Hunnam (The Lost City of Z) is great and so are his supporting cast. I love Ritchie’s style of film-making and I loved this film. Quite honestly, it’s kerbed my thirst for more episodes of Merlin for while, and that’s a win in my book.