Hot Take: How do you make King Arthur boring? Ask Guy Ritchie.
One of the trickiest movies to pull off is the origin story. It shouldn’t be as tricky as Guy Ritchie makes King Arthur’s origin tale appear to be. Walking into King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, I was ready for almost anything. One thing I wasn’t ready for, though, was boredom. Yet somehow despite it’s frantic action scenes, pulsating (and kick ass) soundtrack and twisted take on the Arthurian legend, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a snooze.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not based on a video game but you wouldn’t realize that based on the way the film plays out. Ritchie’s tale actually appears more video game-like than last year’s Warcraft. The modernization of the visuals is actually a plus but it can’t hide the fact that the film is bereft of plot and character development. A lot goes on on screen but the film somehow manages to keep the audience uninvolved in the activities.
Charlie Hunnam takes on the titular role and while he’s full of charisma and the frenetic pace allows the audience to maybe not notice the inconsistency of his accent, there’s something about his portrayal that seems a bit off. It’s hard to pin down whether it is Hunnam’s performance or what he’s given to work with but the pre-King Arthur isn’t awe inspiring and the reluctant hero act is a played origin story trope. Jude Law plays the villain and has a lot of potential as the power hungry Vortigern but succumbs to CGI and will be better remembered as the end-level boss Hunnam’s Arthur must face that has the look of something ripped out of Street Fighter. There’s a female character of substance known simply as The Mage played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey. At least there’s a female character, I guess. There are other female characters with bit parts which could be summed up as either whores (this Arthur was raised in a brothel after being dumped in a boat and sailed down the river which might force the filmmaker’s to pay royalties to the Bible) or sacrificial lambs (Arthur’s mom bites it early and then often in nightmarish flashbacks that haunt our hero, for example). There’s diversity in the future Knights as Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen, Tom Wu and Craig McGinlay make up the cast that will likely never see the sequel to summer’s first big flop.
I hate to be on the negative side of the reviews for a film that dares to be different. We don’t get enough of that these days. However, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword fails to be interesting in its quest to stand out from other Arthur tales of the past. No matter how different the movie appears to be on the surface, if the plot isn’t compelling enough, you’re unlikely to keep your audience entertained. That’s essentially the problem with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword which has all the razzle dazzle but lacks substance. Style almost never outlasts substance and Ritchie’s take on the Arthur legend is no exception.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Score Scores
While it’s overly loud, the score for the film is an adrenaline rush to the action scenes. Composer Daniel Pemberton who has previously been nominated for a Golden Globe (for his original score for Steve Jobs and his original song for Gold that he co-wrote with Iggy Pop, Danger Mouse and director Stephen Gaghan) delivers a modern soundtrack unlike the norm you’d expect for a medieval tale but it works. It’s one of the few things that do.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Did Arthur Need An Update?
In honor of the return of Jeff Goldblum to the Jurassic Park franchise: Guy Ritchie and friends were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
- Maybe It’s Me But Why Does Eric Bana Ruin Almost Everything He Touches?
I have a long and stories history of hating (or at least liking less) almost everything Eric Bana appears in, even if it is in a bit role. Bana plays Arthur’s father and his eye-rolling presence in the opening of the film put a bad taste in my mouth from the start. Admittedly, it’s a personal bias that is probably too harsh but Bana’s presence always seems to subtract more than it adds.
- What Did They Spend $175 Million On?
Was it the super-sized mastodons? Was it the fancy, glowy Excalibur? Was it Jude Law’s CGI transformation? What ever it was, it wasn’t worth it.