King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an exhausting, tedious and incoherent revisionist tale because of its inane storytelling, awful CGI and Guy Ritchie’s threadbare bag of tricks.
When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.
The legend of King Arthur is the original British teenage boy’s fantasy, complete with swords, magic, fair maidens, and brotherhood. Since studios are always on the lookout for the next money making franchise with the least effort possible, his story gets a revamp for the millennial audience.
For some reason someone thought that “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” director Guy Ritchie is the right director for a medieval romance. He has the clout to attract top talent at least so you have notwithstanding receding hairline Jude Law, up and coming Charlie Hunnam and probably contently typecasted Aidan Gillen. Every role is well cast and if you pay attention, there’s Merlin alum Katie McGrath.
That’s pretty much about it because the rest of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a confusing mess.
Its as if the makers behind the camera thought that the Arthurian legend is too simple of a tale to be told so everything is overblown. The exposition is sped up and jarring. Plot points are turned into montages. Fight scenes are done with beta videogame looking CGI. Supernatural elements are exaggerated. Production value is high but it seems that most of the budget went to visual effects. Done at the pace of an action movie, Legend of the Sword quickly becomes exhausting and tedious.
All the while, gaping plot holes litter the screen because of inane storytelling. The script isn’t interested in a coherent story because its too busy setting up frenetic action pieces, letting Ritchie do his thing or play music video like sequences. Even when a character has a moment, they have to wail at the top of their lungs in slow motion.
Characterization will inevitably be simplified, but even the important characters here are underdeveloped. Vortigern is your run-in-the-mill power-hungry douche with a nice king slouch but bad villainy making skills. He reveals the born king that everyone is sure to rally for. Also, access to a magical sword that works like an ultimate weapon from an anime series. Arthur is written as the reluctant hero in the body of a smarmy cad but his development is less convincing.
Apart from the godawful CGI, the second worst part is the wasted cast. Law is great, Hunnam is watchable, and you have an array of interesting supporting characters. Unfortunately, their lost in a film that’s trying too hard to entertain.
The script is too caught up in trying to woo the millennials that it forgot to tell a story, present relatable characters, flesh out its “from nothing comes a king” theme or even have some fun. It relied on Ritchie’s blokes and banter style with whip pans and fast cutting that only revealed its limits. It used badly executed visual effects to move the plot forward sucking the life out of the movie.
The result is a loud, dull, revisionist tale that’s essentially just a string of flashy set pieces. There are bits and pieces here that hint of something. There’s a menacingly cool female Kraken, an intriguing Mage, amusing group dynamics, and two leads that can have a compelling rivalry – one is an insecure king with buried regrets, the other a cocky street rat with hidden fears. Unfortunately with a big budget to make up for and a misguided grimy reboot on its agenda, the movie trips on its own ambitions.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is another failed reboot, a dull blockbuster and a reminder that classics need to be left alone. Also, Ritchie should stick to making movies about wheelin’ and dealin’ blokes with nearly incomprehensible accents somewhere in modern London.
My Rating: 4/10
Movie poster by Shepard Fairey courtesy of Collider