King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review
All the best Superhero movies seem to come with origin stories. Can you do the same for Classical Myth characters? Take a famous legend such as King Arthur, and make a fantastical story of his origins. Would it be better if you just come out and make him a Superhero along the way? This is what the movie “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” does in its retelling of the Arthurian myth.
Back in some long ago times, when scenes set in Scotland were called England, the ruler was Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana). He was the King, and he ruled in peace over humans, and a people called ‘The Mage’. These were magic wizards and warlocks, who could control nature and animals. His brother was Vortigern (Jude Law), who was evil and willing to sacrifice his wife to gain the throne.
Uther was killed in the fighting, and he sent his little boy away to survive. The magical sword Excalibur was frozen in stone, so that none could posess it. The little boy grew up to become Arthur (Charlie Hunnam). He knew nothing of his childhood, or his royal blood, because he was raise in a house of ill repute. Vortigern was worried that Arthur would return some day, so he forced every man in the kingdom to try and take the sword from the stone.
Arthur is of course the only man who can do it. So Vortigern sets out to have a public execution Arthur. However, a loyal soldier named Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) still serves the late King Uther, and he plans an escape for Arthur. With the help of a magic-enriched woman call ‘The Mage’ (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), he helps Arthur to be free. But now in return, he wants Arthur and the legendary sword Excalibur to fight against evil king Vortigern.
With a small underground ‘Resistance’, they plan ways to eliminate Vortigern. Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen) is an excellent archer, and can shoot the king from a great distance. But things go awry, and soon Arthur, Bedivere, Goosefat Bill, The Mage, and many others are on the run. Arthur wants no part in the group’s plans and tries to get rid of the magical sword. But since it is magical, the Lady of the Lake delivers it back to Arthur. When he can finally use it, it unlocks the secrets of his past and it has the power that can take down Vortigern. So can Arthur find the way to become England’s rightful King, and first Superhero?
That is what director Guy Ritchie hope everyone wants to know. This is supposed to be a beginning part of a series of ‘Arthur’ movies, so hang on to your bollocks. This concocted story of Arthur’s roots has very little to do with well-known stories and legends. It has a blenderized version of Arthur, Bible stories, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and even the kitchen sink thrown in. Monty Python had more ‘accurate’ storytelling in “The Holy Grail”.
Charlie Hunnam (Arthur) is a poor-man’s Brad Pitt, and he finally warms up into this role. Jude Law is quick to chew up every piece of scenery and perhaps a few other actors as Vortigern. Every other actor does pretty good, looking like they just walked out of the Renaissance Faire. The backgrounds of the countryside are quite striking.
But the relentless motion and movement on the screen, along with the booming and blaring soundtrack, makes it a major effort to sit through and watch the movie. There is no ‘three act’ structure or any type of structure at all. It is mostly action, frantic action, major battles, speedy escapes, more frantic action, more battles, etc. So there are always a lot of things going on, but there is no time to catch your breath at all…
There are many clever sequences and nicely edited shots, but usually the sum total is just overwhelming. It might be a huge box office hit, and I hope it does well. But in the back of my mind, I would like to slow down a bit and rewatch Disney’s “Sword and the Stone”.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Summary
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Screenplay by: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Joby Harold
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law, Eric Bana
Length: 126 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG 13, for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama