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‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ (review)

Produced by Guy Ritchie, Akiva Goldsman,
Joby Harold, Tory Tunnell,
Steve Clark-Hall,Lionel Wigram
Screenplay by Guy Ritchie,
Lionel Wigram, Joby Harold

Story by David Dobkin, Joby Harold
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Starring Charlie Hunnam,
Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou,
Aidan Gillen, Jude Law, Eric Bana


Full disclosure; I love Guy Ritchie’s movies.

From Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels right on up to last year’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I have enjoyed his kinetic style of filmmaking paired a big dollop of dry humour.

His movies are usually driven by a great cast of characters.

Charismatic tough guys that delivery the cheesiest kind of lines that are fun to quote with your friends.  Without Guy Richie, we would not have Jason Statham. When I saw that Richie’s latest project was King Arthur I thought that it was a done deal.  Richie’s flair on top of kings, swords, and battles, awesome!

Nope, not awesome.  In fact, kinda painful.

I was so very disappointed with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.  From the trailers it looked like it would be a fun, over the top fantasy movie, with Guy Ritchie’s usually modern spin to bring in the crowds that wouldn’t touch a Tolkien movie with a twelve foot pole.  Instead it was a mish-mash that felt like 3 different people put the movie together; part Snatch, part generic medieval movie, part mid-life crisis movie.

Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim) as Arthur plays the usual Ritchie tough guy, just this side of the wrong side of the law but with the code of honor for those he considers his friends.  His rapport with his friends, Wet Stick (Kingsley Ben-Adir, World War Z) and Back Lack (Neil Maskell, Kill List) and the rapid fire delivery of dialog accompanied is pure Ritchie and it is one of the few times the movie shines.

Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) as Arthur’s throne usurping uncle, Vortigern is in a completely different film. In the scenes with his wife and with his daughter Law seems as serious as if he were playing Claudius or MacBeth.  While he may have been trying to lend the films some gravitas, it felt ingenuine and provoked unintended laughter from the viewing audience.

Djimon Hounsou’s Bedivere (Gladiator) was wasted as a one dimensional character that only served to be there for when the story need someone from the past to prod Arthur into accepting his role as a leader. However, Aidan Gillen (Games of Thrones) was given the rare opportunity to play a character other than another manipulative slimeball and actually be an honorable knight.  It was refreshing to see him act against cast type.

Another pitfall of the film is the lack of quality women’s roles.  Although twice, Arthur would not have survived if it had not been for the intervention of a woman, the woman of the film are there to be set dressing or victims with the exception of The Mage played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey (Alaska).  The Mage may be the most important person to Arthur’s success in battling his uncle, but is given little acknowledgement for her contributions.  It is disappointing to see a lack of strong female characters, especially where they were a highlighted in the Sherlock films and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

I usually try and find something good to say about a movie, because I know so many people worked hard on it, but it is hard for me to find anything about the film that was more than just a basic attempt at a blockbuster.  It’s as if there was a checklist of how to make an epic, medieval film.

Although all the boxes were checked, it had no heart in it.


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