The concept of a King Arthur based movie has always been a difficult one to convincingly portray. For some reason, the last incident including one of England’s most famous Monarchs was glum, gaunt and absolutely god-awful! Fast-forward some 15 years later, with Guy Ritchie at the helm, we are about to witness another attempt to retell the story literally every competent human has heard more times than Batman’s origin story. So, did I enjoy it? Or should the Legend of the Sword have remained just that?
Round 1 – Story
As mentioned previously, EVERYONE knows the origin story of King Arthur. If you don’t, watch Sword In The Stone. Trust me, it’s a masterpiece in comparison to this. Anyway, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” sees Charlie Hunnam portray the titular character in what is supposed to, according to director Guy Ritchie, feel “different and fresh”. Different and fresh is not the adjectives I’d personally use to describe this story however. I’m more than happy to concede to the term of different, however fresh it is not.
Guy Ritchie has always enjoyed producing films that contain fast cuts, sharp dialogue, and fascinating narratives. From Lock, Stock to Sherlock Holmes (albeit not as effectively managed), Ritchie has not wavered from his tried and tested ideology. Until now.
King Arthur tries so hard to develop an inventive story that the whole viewing experience is as difficult as they come. At no point did any of the stakes surrounding Arthur’s upbringing, morality or parentage seem genuine in any sense. Instead, we are given loud noises, bright lights, ridiculous dialogue, and such a gratuitous Game of Thrones handjob that it should contain a disclaimer. Seriously, if you’ve ever asked yourself what Game of Thrones would look like as a PG-13 story containing Jude Law, Charlie Hunnam, Littlefinger, Roose Bolton and David Beckham then this is undeniably for you! Me, however, I’d rather stick with the original.
Round 2 – Characters
The Legend of King Arthur contains a wealth of vibrant, energetic characters that all audiences can relate to in one way or another. You’d think that Guy Ritchie has managed to dig into that mine and unearth some brilliant way to portray figures such as Lancelot, Merlin, and Guinevere right? You don’t want to see them, you want to see people named Bill, George, and Bedivere don’t you? Stop being so cynical, of course you do!
But seriously, is there some sort of rights dispute against the names of Merlin et al that I don’t know about? I could Google it but that would involve putting more research into a film I’m really not bothered about.
I’m genuinely at a loss at how poor these characters are. At no point do the stakes of Arthur and his inevitable Round Table feel genuine. From the moment the film introduced his band of men (and token woman), I felt myself counting down the time until at least one was killed off. Is that wrong of me? It shouldn’t be because if I cared about these characters I would want them to survive. I would want them to succeed, not meet a meek end in a shack on the Thames.
Arthur is emotionless, The Mage is Diet Merlin, Vortigern (Jude Law’s villain) is what happens when you combine Claudius and Skeletor, and before you ask, no that’s not a good thing. Cameos such as David Beckham as the officer in charge of directing men to pull the sword from the stone is farcical, and the fact that Ritchie gave himself a cameo so pointless, it actually made me give a verbal reaction.
Score – 1/10
Right, in a film that has no character, no plot, no purpose, and a director desperate to be “different and fresh”, you’d be forgiven for thinking the action sequences may make for entertaining viewing. As much as it tries, and my word it tries, HARD, the senseless CGI sequences somehow manage to deflate this film in more ways I could have expected.
Throughout the film I had 2 thoughts:
- This looked so much better on Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings
- This would probably be more enjoyable if it wasn’t PG-13 (12A in the U.K.)
I honestly think if Ritchie could have made a film with a bit more bite, “Legend of the Sword” may have been an enjoyable experience. However, that just isn’t the case. It already feels castrated by the time the humorless attempt to recreate Ritchie’s signature fast cut style, an attempt that occurs within the first 30 minutes of the film.
Sure it’s loud, sure you’re kids will probably eat it all up. But trust me, this is a lazy attempt to produce something supposedly worthy of FIVE sequels.
Score – 2/10
Final Score – 5/30 (17%)