King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
This film has a lot to live up to for me as I am a huge fan of the legend of Arthur and also a fan of Medieval times. Also, to me, King Arthur with Clive Owen was a really well made, dark incarnation of the legend of Arthur. Even if it does have Keira Knightley and Ray Winston in it. They just really stuck to the basics and the grittiness of the times people lived in back then. So I was very excited when they announced a new Arthur film as it’s been a long time since we had one.
However, this film was a rollercoaster of emotions for me. Mainly negative.
PLOT: The plot felt a little thin. Wrong king on throne. Rightful heir hidden and brought up as a normal child. He learns to defend himself and finds out he’s the rightful king. Rest of film dedicated to him overthrowing the usurper. It’s not like we haven’t seen that plot a thousand times before.
So the problems with this film began with one of the first shots featuring 3 HUGE elephant type creatures (they don’t actually refer to them as elephants in the movie but that’s exactly what they are). The problem with this was that it started a trend of scenes in this movie that looked exactly like other scenes from better movies:
- The elephants looked like the Oliphants from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
- A shot of our protagonists jumping from one rooftop to another with a ‘birds-eye’ point of view looked exactly like a scene from the recent Assassin’s Creed movie.
- At the end of the movie when a tower of fire collapses, it looks exactly like the Eye of Sauron collapsing in LOTR: The Return of the King with the way it falls and the angle of the shot. And the fact that it’s a tower of fire collapsing…
- There’s one part where the protagonists are running away from the usurper’s soldiers (the Black Legs) and they jump from boat to boat to navigate across a part of the river Thames. This shot reminded me of when the dwarves do this during The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in Lake Town to avoid being caught by the guards of the town.
Onto the main actor. I’ve never really enjoyed Charlie Hunham’s way of acting. He always seems too overconfident to the point of cocky and it really doesn’t convince you to feel any empathy for his character whenever he’s the protagonist. In this film, I don’t think it helps that they’ve integrated some of those qualities into the character of Arthur as well. They’ve modernised the character of Arthur so much; he’s cocky and arrogant to the point of annoying that you don’t find yourself rooting for him to win in this movie. Arthur is another ‘hero’ character who doesn’t get injured, can fight against the odds and is never humiliated in anything he does. Always comes out of a fight looking clean like he never picked up a sword. He’s flawless. So not relatable at all. There’s more and more of these kinds of characters popping up in hollywood these days and it’s just frustrating as a viewer.
Arthur’s hair style is also ridiculous. Obviously we don’t know what their hair would have been like so long ago but I’m sure it wasn’t the style guys wear these days where the sides are shaved and the top is all combed back. And it’s strange how Arthur’s character is the only one with this hairstyle. Also, he’s the only one with stupidly large biceps and takes his shirt off enough times to have a lasting image of his 6-pack in your mind. What is this obsession with making leading characters all muscular and having to take their shirt off so much?! Hugh Jackman does this so much. I’m not saying it’s the actors’ fault. It’s the director’s. Please stop doing this! I also don’t believe they would have been that beefy back in Medieval times. Another thing I don’t believe they would have had back then is pyjama trousers! I don’t really think they’d have had trousers at all. They wore smocks most of the time so where did this ‘trouser’ fashion come from for films set centuries ago? Robin Hood features a lot of trousers, it’s weird.
So back to the film. It was way too modernised for me. Guy Ritchie seemed to amp up his film-making style to the max as the first 10 minutes gives you a headache with all the fast cuts. It’s like he’s invented a new style of montage; fitting in a second of a scene so your brain doesn’t have time to process what the fuck is going on!
The film tries to be comical WAYYY too much. And the fact that the jokes aren’t funny makes the delivery of the lines even more difficult to watch. The actors really had a tough job delivering Ritchie’s style of humour which felt more like it belonged in a modern gangster film. Talking of modern gangster, the film featured way too many character names that would belong to the east-end gangsters of London back in the 1920’s i.e. Flat-Nosed John.
Now onto some things that I liked. Jude Law was the best thing in the movie. Which isn’t saying much as he was up against Charlie Hunham’s ridiculously accented Arthur character. But when he would sit on the throne with a crown in his hand, it really made you feel like you were watching a Shakespearean play. He just pulled off the role to perfection. It also felt like you were watching a genuine actor performing, not like Hunham’s ‘competition winner’ style of acting. The thing about his character though was that you didn’t feel he was particularly evil. Maybe I’ve watched too many of these films to empathise with the hero anymore but you felt like the villain could have done a bit more to be the ‘yin’ to the hero’s ‘yang’.
The other thing I liked was that none of the women were made out to look like Victoria’s Secret models. There wasn’t even a particularly strong love interest in the movie which was REALLY refreshing for a modern movie. The main female role in the movie, played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, had no make up, she wasn’t a love interest and she just played a role in the movie. It was perfect.
Here’s a few quick points about the film I feel need addressing before I say ciao:
- Coliseum in London? It pops up near the beginning as the camera pans across Medieval London. I’ve never seen a coliseum shown in Medieval times before, certainly not in London. I’m sure they must have had one from the Roman era but it really stood out and confused me slightly. The filmmakers were either trying to make it VERY historically accurate or they just thought,’ hey that would look cool’.
David Beckham? Really? Guy Ritchie said he had two weeks of acting lessons for that one little role. And that’s what I’d expect from someone who has never acted professionally. But:
He’s a footballer
He doesn’t need more money
A much better, lesser known british actor could have pulled off that role with more ease.
He’s also too famous a person to appear in a film and still keep your suspension of disbelief hanging in the balance. Just no.
After Arthur manages to pull Excalibur out of the stone he is told his name is being shouted out everywhere across the land and become a bit of a celebrity but we’re just told this. Also, the scene where he’s pulled Excalibur out of the stone and the scene where he’s told he’s a celebrity are immediately one after the other. Suddenly he’s a ‘legend’ over the course of one day and is to be executed for it. It all seemed a bit quick with no exposition.
The ‘Black Legs’ is a VERY stupid and non threatening name for the soldiers of the evil usurper. Soldiers with hoods and masks just AREN’T scary or intimidating anymore in movies. If anything, the hood and mask impairs their sight therefore useless for fighting so I’m not sure how useful they’d be. It’s clearly a fabrication from the mind of someone who’s never made a historical film and just thinks it would look cool.
The action scenes make you feel like you’re watching a video game of King Arthur with his magical sword and unlocking all of it’s abilities. It reminded me EXACTLY of the Shadow Of Mordor game. The sword in that game even does the same thing as the sword in this movie! It’s like Guy Ritchie just sat down and played the game with his kids for a couple of nights and decided to make a movie about it.
Its like watching Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels dressed up in Medieval times
There’s something wrong with Hunham’s accent. I know he’s from Newcastle but let him use his own accent if the other choice is whatever accent he ends up with! Who’s to say Arthur wasn’t a Geordie?! He’s only a myth after all!
So watch this film if you enjoy fantasy films for what they are and you like Charlie Hunham. Because if you’re seeing it for other actors and you don’t like Hunham then you’re going to be disappointed as he really takes over every scene with his annoying swagger of an Arthur!
My Rating – 5/10 | IMDB – 7.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 28%