Sunday, May 14, 2017

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

Year: 2017
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Eric Bana, Annabelle Wallis

Plot: Vortigen kills his own brother Uther using sorcery and seizes the throne of Camelot. Uther's son Arthur, ends up in the hands of prostitutes and is raised in the streets, until one day he discovers his destiny to raise his father's sword and reclaim the throne from his uncle.

Review: Guy Ritchie has a style that for me, only works in certain films. It's a mixed bag; the Sherlock Holmes films were good, but The Man From UNCLE was a failure for me. However, his fast paced, upbeat take on the legend of King Arthur feels quite promising.

As the story goes, Arthur is orphaned at the age of 2 when his uncle Vortigen makes a deal with a trio of syrens and kills Arthur's father Uther, and his mother, and seizes the throne of Camelot. Arthur is raised in a brothel and is trained in street fighting as he grows up. One day, he ends up pulling his father's sword Excalibur out of a stone, thereby making him a threat to Vortigen's power. Vortigen moves to execute him, but Arthur is saved by his father's old allies, and must now train under a female mage to embrace his destiny and how to use Excalibur to overthrow the evil king.

With Guy Ritchie, you can expect a few similar things in all his films: slow motion, quick cuts, flashback/flashforwards etc. This kinetic style actually works in his favor as it makes the film move at a steady pace, thus it is rarely boring. Ritchie also goes to great lengths to show the magic and sorcery aspect of the story, such as giant snakes, eagles and a humongous elephant that tramples everything in its path. There's also the power of Excalibur itself, which was like giving someone the power of the One Ring, and I thought it was cool. I also loved the music score, which has a heavy rock opera feel to it. It's one of the best things about the film. 

Charlie Hunnam hasn't exactly fully matured to become leading man material, but he definitely excels at being an action hero, which he does very well here as Arthur. Astrid Berges-Frisbey, whom I had last seen in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, is much older now, and quite effective as the mage who trains Arthur. Her rather cold exterior makes her perfect for the role. Jude Law is solid as the evil Vortigen, but honestly I felt he wasn't given enough time to really sink into the role. Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen lend their veteran experience as Arthur's backup, but aren't given enough screen time to really stand out. And by now, you must have heard of a certain footballer's cameo, and it's not as bad as everyone thinks.

I do wish that the final fight between Arthur and Vortigen didn't involve a CGI monster. I would have also preferred Merlin to at least make an appearance here, since he is such an important piece of the legend. Ritchie should have also expanded on the story and supporting players a bit more.

Overall, I sort of enjoyed this contemporary take on the King Arthur legend. I hear there are more films planned for this story, but the supposedly lukewarm response at the box office might derail that plan. Anyway, it's an entertaining popcorn movie, bottom line. (7.5/10) 

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