Guy Ritchie's reboot of the Arthurian legend fails to leverage GoT inspired sword and sorcery epic-ness.
Starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law
COMEDY ACTION #KINGARTHUR
Implicit in any film title with a colon is anticipation of a franchise by the film’s producers. King Arthur: Legend of Merlin, King Arthur: Battle for Camelot, King Arthur: Guinevere and Me, that sort of thing. But with such critical disdain, audience disinterest and box office disaster that has met Guy Ritchie’s sword and sorcery epic, it is unlikely we have much to fear from a follow up.
No doubt there were high hopes that this big screen epic could leverage Game Of Thrones for audiences young, and maybe pull in those old enough to remember Excalibur while gaining traction from Ritchie’s prior attempts to invest the past with a contemporary twist (Sherlock). Thus we have a meld of Arthurian legend – and in fairness to Ritchie, that legend has been recomposed so many times that it is itself the stuff of legend – sword play and supernatural hijinks, roughly hewn to a bed befitting a tale of East End rogues by way of Robin Hood: Band of Thieves. A head-scratcher, at the very least.
This jumbled affair follows known high points in which young Arthur is kicked out of Camelot by his wicked uncle, then returns to pull the fabled sword Excalibur from bedrock. Uncle’s not happy but years on the streets of Londinium have honed Arthur’s street cred and from here on in King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword is dodgy attempt to inject cool and sexy into an oft told tale of battle and blood. It gets close, moments when Charlie Hunnam’s coiffured presence is almost convincing, or Jude Law’s supercilious cool is almost menacing. But mostly the film endlessly trips over itself as Ritchie attempts to find a point of difference by pulling in all the tricks he learned on Snatch, and that was a long time ago.
Frankly, the idea is woefully misplaced. It almost worked for Sherlock but here frenetic dialogue, raucous music and choppy editing feels dated as it fights more traditional rhythms Ritchie is otherwise trying to establish in the film. Characters fail to develop beyond two dimensions (this includes Excalibur who is one of the more dynamic presences on screen), and once a zoo of inexplicably large creatures have been released by the forces of super nature, the ensuring chaos is enough to give you a headache. Don’t expect King Arthur: My Brilliant Career anytime soon.