First up, it’s only fair to say that this movie isn’t as bad as they are making it out to be. Sure it’s no masterpiece, but it’s a bit of switch off fun. And if you’re not one to read whole reviews here are the worst parts:
- Charlie Hunnam struggles to act any real emotions.
- The story is kind of dragged out.
- When Arthur wealds Excalibur it looks like they use the CGI if from an early 2000s computer game.
- Everyone laughed when David Beckham’s scene came.
- And finally, if you don’t like Director Guy Ritchie and his style you wont like this.
King Arthur Legend of the Sword is a tale that most children around the world will have grown up with. Books, cartoons, movie and not to mention the spin offs about Merlyn himself are just some of the stories that have come out of Arthur and his sword, Excalibur. And this is the latest revamp, reboot, adaptation what ever you want to call it, because let’s be honest there are almost no original ideas left.
When Uther, Arthurs father (Eric Bana – Chopper, Troy, Hulk), is murdered by his brother Vortigern, (Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes, Alfie, The Holiday), Arthur floats away in a boat downstream to Londinium. Here, some ladies doing their washing by the river find him. Turns out they are ladies of the night, but they take him in and care for him. As Arthur grows he starts to take care of the girls, in a very pimp way. Meanwhile Vortigern needs the Sword Uther was using to be able to get to his full evil power so he starts the hunt for Arthur. All too easily Arthur ends up in Vortigern’s arms and he tries to kill him. But not before Arthur and his team with the help of a little magic take the kingdom back and the people celebrate. It’s the same story you’ve heard a thousand times growing up of King Arthur and his rise to power and that special sword, but with a Guy Ritchie modern adaptation and twist.
One of the first things you will notice is how very Guy Ritchie it is. If you don’t know what that means, think back to Guy Ritchie films. Loch Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Rock and Rolla all have that gangster London story line that you see flow on to King Arthur and Londinium. Then you also have that back and forward dialogue when the characters tell a story. It’s quick and sarcastic fitted with images jumping as they story flips back and forward. And lastly it’s got a very similar style score to his other London based film, Sherlock Holmes. Sometimes the style of a director can suit films they do. Most good directors are able to give everything they do a fresh and different feel, seems Ritchie is falling into his own trap of his style. Mind you for the Lock Stock and Snatch style films his style works perfectly.
Leading the way is Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak) playing Arthur himself. For a great deal of people, just Hunnam alone is enough to see the film. Hunnam went to some great efforts to get into shape for this role, and it’s worked out well for him. As for his acting ability, he brings that fresh Londoner approach they were clearly looking for to give this version of King Arthur a different twist. He can wield a sword, and walk around with his top off and for the most part deliver his lines with some believability. But there’s one point where he fails to bring his character to life and that is when he is avenging his father in the final battle scene. There is such a lack of emotion it completely takes from the scene because you stop and think, oh this guy is doing acting.
Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes, Alfie, The Holiday) managed to play a super creepy King, Vortigern rather well. The one great thing about Law is he manages to express a great deal not only perfectly through his lines but also with his expressions in his face and body. It says something about an actor that can not only deliver lines with perfection but also use those words and show the emotions of a character through non-verbal ways. Law has had a great deal of experience playing characters of a stature such as a King and his past experience has clearly helping him use that for his version of Vortigern.
Then there was a cameo which had the audience laughing. Not because something funny was mentioned or anything like that, but because it was non other than David Beckham himself. And he actually did a really good job as an actor with his three lines. But this was another casting decision from Ritchie where he’s just having fun with him mates. It had no substance to the film nor did it make any sense to cast him either. But at the same time this is the feeling you get from King Arthur, is it’s just a whole lot of fun for them to make.
Visually there was a great deal of effort put into this film and its image. From the streets of Londimium to the castle of Camelot, visually King Arthur delivered in its set design. But where the film failed was in the use of CGI, in particular when Arthur let Excalibur take over and kill all the soldiers in sight. It was so bad it looked like it was the technology used for an early 2000s computer game. So bad you realise you are watching a film and remove yourself from being immersed in the action. And it’s these scenes where Arthur is killing hundreds of soldiers with his sword there’s no blood. It’s like they’ve taken all the violence out of the film and just hinted that it’s there. A children’s film with adult themes and you just want to see someone bleed to know it’s real. Then you realise it’s not real and you’re at the movies.
Overall this is one great film to watch and just switch off. Sure it’s no masterpiece and it could do with a few tweaks here and there. Like in the writing, casting, score and CGI, otherwise you have a great film. It’s got a bit of something for everyone and while people are saying it’s a flop, do your self a favour and let this be that film where you make up your own mind. And maybe Hunnam shirtless might help you decide.
Review by Jay Cook