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 Jude Law, Charlie Hunnam, and Aidan Gillen.
That’s pretty much about it because the rest of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a confusing mess.
It’s 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. 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. Even when a character has a moment, they have to wail at the top of their lungs in slow motion.
Character development will inevitably be simplified, but even the important figures 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 anime weapon. Arthur is written as the reluctant hero in the body of a one-note smarmy cad.
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, they’re 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 story.
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.
Movie poster by Shepard Fairey courtesy of Collider
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an exhausting, tedious, and incoherent revisionist tale.