Title – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
Director – Guy Ritchie (Snatch)
Cast – Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen, Neil Maskell, Annabelle Wallis, Eric Bana
Plot – A reimagining of the classic King Arthur tale with Arthur (Hunnam) plucked from his life of obscurity and forced into a war with his evil uncle and king Vortigern (Law) in the dark ages of ancient England.
“Don’t worry. You will soon understand what all the fuss is about”
Review by Eddie on 22/05/2017
Opening with quite literally raging giant elephants waltzing into battle, this big, dumb, loud and genuinely ADD blockbuster is anything but your typical take on the longstanding King Arthur tale.
In what’s supposed to be the first of 6 new King Arthur films (this is now highly unlikely due to this films extreme flopping at the Box Office), British bad boy Guy Ritchie has once more found himself away from the small budget character and dialogue driven pieces like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch that bought him worldwide fame and instead leading the charge of a massive budget and filmmaking playground in which he can enact his particular brand of movie making magic on a Hollywood sized scale.
Ritchie’s style over substance approach worked wonders with his reimaging of the Sherlock Holmes cannon and anyone familiar with those Robert Downey Jr adventures will instantly recognise similarities with Legend of the Sword, but despite the spectacle and grand visions, Legend of the Sword fails to ever properly engage and becomes a blockbuster experience that’s entertaining in spits and spurts, but almost entirely forgettable once the credits begin to role.
Supposedly clocking in at around 3 hours in its original cut, you can see the legacy of Legend of the Sword’s troubled production history (the film was original penned in for release last year) on the final product as it stands with many pieces of the puzzle not fitting into place as the film stands today.
Characters appear and disappear only to reappear out of nowhere, often barely allowing us time to remember their names. Sequences such as a bizarre “Dark Woods” segment or a Viking run-in feel like parts of the movie Ritchie and his screenwriters tacked on just because it seemed cool while Arthur himself as played by Charlie Hunnam never fully clicks into place as a leading man we come to care for.
Never a problem with past versions on either screen or print, Hunnam and Ritchie have made Arthur a relatively arrogant piece of work and whilst initially his roguish nature makes him seem entertaining, as the runtime wears on and his attitude remains the same, it becomes rather unappealing and with Hunnam taking the majority of the film’s key character scenes, others like Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou and Aiden Gillen barely get a moment to work their supporting magic.
At least the male supports get more to do than Ritchie allows for the token females in the picture with Annabelle Wallis relegated to a few brief scenes while Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as The Mage delivers a genuinely terrible performance filled with trite dialogue and equally unfortunate delivery.
With a large amount of flaws appearing over the film like a bad case of the boils, it can’t be denied that when Legend of the Sword kicks up the action it really does become an over the top ride that you can’t help but enjoy despite knowing better.
Filled with Ritchie’s trademark quick-fire editing, a score that ramps up tension and some great over the top fighting and foot chases, Legend of the Sword becomes a much more tolerable experience when it’s forgoing the serious and focusing on the fun and while a few select sequences feel far too much like a video game come to life, Ritchie’s unique talent for spectacle takes the film up a notch from where it arguably deserves to be, even if oversized snakes aren’t as cool as Ritchie thinks they must be.
Final Say –
Frustrating more often than not and filled with a collection of characters we should care a lot more for, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword isn’t ever going to eventuate into the series it could’ve been, but with Ritchie as usual providing the visual treats, this over the top retelling of a well-known tale is a fun and disposable example of Hollywood at its most bombastic.
3 retired soccer stars out of 5