• Guy Jeffries

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review


Director: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay, Tom Wu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Geoff Bell, Poppy Delevingne, David Beckham, Michael McElhatton.

At hearing the idea of Guy Ritchie making a King Arthur movie, I was intrigued and excited but upon seeing the trailer, I wasn't so sure. Thinking the greatest British legend of all is going to get the Sherlock treatment but instead we're given something entirely different to what we might have seen before, but with the familiar Ritchie techniques.

There's two roads a film maker can choose with the story of King Arthur. One being of myth and legend with sorcery and seduction much like John Boorman's epic Excalibur. Or, attempt to tell the story of the Arthur the legend might be based upon, such as Antoine Fuqua's King Arthur from 2004. Both good films in their own right. And Ritchie decides to go for a paraphrased rework of the myth behind the legend, an origin story but not quite the Arthur we might know so well as the story has been tweaked slightly. None of the historical writers that lay claim to King Arthur's legend are credited, of course, but it seems the writers here have drawn inspiration from Geoffrey of Monmouth's compiled version of events who wrote the History of The Kings of Britian in the 12th century. This book included Arthur, Uther Pendragon, the Lady of the Lake, Mordred, Merlin and this film's antagonist, Vortigern.

Hearing that this is first of a six film franchise, this is purely the introductory piece, an origin story. Young Arthur growing up as an orphan, ruling the streets of Londinium into manhood. Who inevitably, reluctantly fulfils a prophecy and goes up against his tyrant Uncle, King Vortigern. I'm glad the role went to Hunnam and not Superman, Henry Cavill or Jai Courtney. He certainly fits the role, especially the Ritchie version Arthur. A cheeky, confident outlaw with a sense of righteous about him. Now the rest of the casting, with no disrespect to Hunnam and Hounsou, but Law is the biggest name on the bill and properly should have had bigger names in the supporting roles to bolster the cast. Because of this I failed to feel anything towards the other smaller characters; and these were the ones that became cues for emotional feelings.

The story actually feels sloppy, lacking any real emotional impact. Pitched as Lord of the Rings meets Snatch and it was sadly neither, or a poor attempt at both at its very best. Parts of the movie felt like it was trying to be something else, whether coincidental or purposefully, I saw scenes from 300, Gladiator and even thought Arthur was venturing to the dark side like Skywalker did on Dagobah and it's even got it's own Chamber of Secrets.

Knowing what Ritchie is capable of I was really expecting so much more. It's either Ritchie at his most laziest or its poorly edited. The action was somewhat lax, hoping for some of Ritchie's trademark skill with the camera. There's was little to feast upon though had plenty of opportunity to, like the archery for example, never actually seeing the shot, only the before and after which leads me to assume budget wasn't big enough. Other times Ritchie uses his technique, it feels forced, like the running chase sequence that's the same from RocknRolla. Was it really necessary? Talking of RocknRolla, is Ritchie ever going to finish the trilogy or has he abandoned it entirely?

Other than Hunnam, the other good thing that came out of this film is Daniel Pemberton's interesting score. It sounds rather fresh and original, at least different from the usual Zimmer influenced scores of today. However, could I hear some of Games of Thrones in there? Pemberton did a great score for this year's Gold too, so going to keep an ear out for this chap's music.

Knowing there's another five films planned, it would be safe to assume the missing characters from the rest of Arthurian legend will be making an appearance. Merlin obviously one of them and guessing they'll turn to the 12th century Chrétien de Troyes stories of Arthur which would then included Lancelot and the Holy Grail. I just hope whatever comes after, is better than this.

Having chosen the mythical legend, it lacks the romance of the tales of olde. I think this style would have suited a Robin Hood movie more, leaving the sword and sorcery out of it, well, leave the sword bits in obviously.

Running Time: 7

The Cast: 6

Performance: 7

Direction: 6

Story: 5

Script: 6

Creativity: 6

Soundtrack: 7

Job Description: 3

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Strangely, yes.

53% 5/10

#GuyRitchie #CharlieHunnam #JudeLaw #AstridBergèsFrisbey #DjimonHounsou #EricBana #FreddieFox #CraigMcGinlay #TomWu #KingsleyBenAdir #NeilMaskell #GeoffBell #PoppyDelevingne #DavidBeckham #MichaelMcElhatton #DanielPemberton #AidanGillen