KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (USA/12A/126mins)
Directed by Guy Ritchie. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Djimon Hounsou
THE PLOT: After his family is murdered in a violent coup, young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) escapes to Londinium and makes a life for himself in back streets of the city. When the King of England Vortigem (Jude Law) becomes afraid for his throne after a mysterious sword in a stone appears at Camelot when the water recedes, Arthur, as well as all other men his age, are rounded up to try and pull the sword, and prove they are the true King of England so Vortigem can do away with them forever. After Arthur reveals himself as King, he must face his past, and fight for his future.
THE PLOT: It seems that cinema has always been fascinated with the Arthurian Legend, and there have been many adaptations of the tale over the yeas. Although the last high profile version of the story was in 2004, there have been many smaller productions in the intervening years before Guy Ritchie felt it was time to put his spin on the tale. The trouble is that ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ feels as though it is several movies smashed together, and has serious problems with tone, performance and energy.
The cast of ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ features some seriously familiar faces, including Jude Law, Charlie Hunnam, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Djimon Hounsou and Eric Bana, but none of them seem to know which film they are in, and struggle with creating their characters, the energy of the story and the tone of the film.
The screenplay for ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ was written by Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram, and was apparently considerably rewritten by producer Wigram and director Guy Ritchie. The end result has the feeling of ‘Lord of the Rings’ meets ‘Snatch’, but in the worst possible way. The anachronistic dialogue and accents of the characters feel completely out of place with the magical elements of the tale, and the most fun moments come when the film forgets to take itself so seriously, but these moments are few and far between.
As director Guy Ritchie has created a dark, gloomy and CGI heavy film that is a tonal mess. The magical elements do not sit with the more typical “Guy Ritchie” moments in the film, and feel as though they come from two different stories. The characters are badly realised and performed, as it seems that the actors are struggling to marry the Cockney and mythical tones of the film together.
In all, ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is dark, gloomy and a tonal mess. There is very little fun to be had with the film, and any of the laughs that are had feel entirely unintentional. The legend of King Arthur is a fascinating tale, but there is little to celebrate with Guy Ritchie’s messy and uninspiring film. Oh and the less said about the David Beckham cameo, the better.
RATING:2/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword is very much a Guy Ritchie joint. Looking to jazz up Arthurian legend, Ritchie has delivered a very ‘street’ take on this oft-told legend. If it wasn’t for the medieval setting, it would be easy to mistake it for some modern-day London geezer caper. Sadly, that’s actually what it is. Knightz in da hood, so to speak. While that worked riotously well for the Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law take on Sherlock Holmes, Arthurian legend is a very different beast…

    King Uther (Eric Bana) is caught in a power struggle with his younger brother Vortigern (Jude Law) at Camelot. With hostile forces bearing down on him from within and without, King Uther casts his young son Arthur out into the waters, Moses-like, to protect him from Vortigern. Many years later, we meet the now adult Arthur (Charlie Hunnam). Raised in a brothel in ye olde town of Londinium, the time has come for Arthur to prove his worth and claim the throne from Vortigern, who is now king. With the help of witch The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and outlaws Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) and Bill (Aidan Gillen), he first sets out to find his father’s magical sword Excalibur…

    It’s obvious from the get-go that Ritchie hasn’t really got a handle on the story. With three other writers onboard, the script lumbers like the giant elephant we see in the opening battle sequence. This Arthur is a cardboard character, lacking any depth or purpose. So, inserting him into an epic story involving destiny and familial conflict renders the whole film as something of a damp squib. It gets boring very quickly, only enlightened by Law’s darkly villainous Vortigern and Hounsou’s humourous sidekick. They’re both better than the film around them, which fails miserably to get off its feet and actually do something interesting. This reviewer lost count as to how many yawns it invoked.

    Amazingly, Ritchie even manages to out-weird John Boorman’s definitive take on the story – Excalibur. He throws as much as he can into the mix, from bizarre mermaids wrapped in octopus tentacles (prompting unintentional laughs) to an Excalibur of WMD proportions. Calm down there, Ritchie. That’s a bit much to swallow, along with all the decidedly modern touches. When the inevitable final confrontation comes between Arthur and Vortigern, it plays out like an end-of-level boss from a videogame. All of Law’s solid work is undone by a mass of swirling pixels.

    Every summer there’s at least one blockbuster turkey from Warner Bros, but this year it’s arrived early. With an apparent five sequels in the waiting (good luck with that), King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword is an almighty mess. It’s boring, makes little sense and is overblown to the point of exhaustion. It’s time to bring out the stocks and throw rotten fruit and vegetables at Ritchie. *

  • Clive Bower

    A bit of a disappointment this film, some great actors in it but the story is kind of all over the place which really is such a shame

  • emerb

    Guy Ritchie’s knights of the Round Table origin story, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is an ambitious, big-budget, no-nonsense fantasy adventure which has left critics divided. Originally designed to be the first in a lengthy franchise, there has been no further talk of a sequel although I think it has good potential. Ritchie
    and co-screenwriters Lionel Wigram and Joby Harold adapt the actual Arthurian
    legends to add their own enhancements and modifications. Whether or not you like the film will hinge on how much you enjoy the Ritchie signature filmmaking style with features such as quick cuts and elaborate CGI imagery. Personally I found it to be exciting and entertaining, I enjoyed every moment of this swashbuckling ride!

    The movie opens with a spectacular prologue where Camelot is under siege by dark wizards riding enormous elephants. The powerful Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) is in command and vanquishes the wizard Mordred. His power-hungry brother Vortigern (Jude Law) is attempting to help but clearly undermining him and in the end betrays him in order to take the throne for himself. When Uther’s young son Arthur witnesses the murder of his father at the hands of his uncle, he makes a fortuitous escape on a boat down the River Thames and goes into hiding where he ends up being raised by kindly prostitutes on the streets of ancient London. In a very Ritchie-style sequence we race through Arthur growing up, learning to fist fight and use his wits while eventually growing up to become Charlie Hunnam. It’s at this point that the movie begins in earnest. Arthur is
    forced, as all men in the kingdom are, to try to pull Uther’s legendary magic sword from a stone. When he successfully removes the sword, he is deemed the next ruler of England. This doesn’t please the evil Vortigern who orders his execution. Arthur joins up with a merry group of rebels and disaffected nobles to bring him down and install himself as the true and rightful King. The band includes a nameless sorceress Guinevere (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), and Goosefat Bill Wilson (Aiden Gillen). Together they push Arthur into leading a revolution, despite his initial reluctance to become a leader.
    There’s a lot to like about “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” – it’s a big, bold, thrilling, mindless and over-the-top spectacle – ideal summer viewing then. For me, the real star of the film is Charlie Hunnam, who hadn’t come to my attention until recently when he starred in “Lost City Of Z” (which earned him great praise). His Arthur is powerful and courageous but also tortured, doubtful and uneasy about the prospect of leading a rebellion. Undoubtedly Hunnam has the ideal physique for the role but he also exhibits a certain rogue-like charm and cheerful appeal, he succeeds in making the role his own. Jude Law also impressed as an effective villain. The only female of any significance is the Mage, a person of magic skills played by a creepy and hauntingly beautiful Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, who has a way with conjuring snakes. I was disappointed that Merlin didn’t appear in the movie, perhaps he’s being saved for the follow-ups? The film is not without its flaws, it’s way over the top and the plot is lacking. However, there’s no doubting the impressive special effects sequences and there’s lots of fun to be
    had watching the scheming, wisecracking medieval rogues devise a way to
    dethrone the King. I found this to be surprisingly entertaining and was glad to have seen it.