Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.
Hollywood is moving so fast right now with all the reboots, re-imaginings and sequels that it’s hard for those big studio executives to sit down and watch their films being made. Hence is the case with “King Arthur: Legend of The Sword” a swashbuckling update of the Excalibur wielding knight of the round table. And boy does it suck.
Not from a lack of trying, but director Guy Ritchie - (who had success with the two “Sherlock Holmes” films which I liked very much) - is starting to become more flashy than versatile. He has a way with camera angles, close up brawls, and not caring much about the story. In some case that can work, here it’s mindless.
When the movie opens, Arthur is a young boy who witnesses the murder of his father, King Uther (Erica Bana) at the hands of his dastardly uncle Vortigern (Jude Law). Because of this, Arthur goes into hiding and is raised by prostitutes on the streets of ancient London, where he learns to use both his brawns and his fists where he grows up to be the chiseled Charlie Hunnam - which is to say he has zero-percent body fat. Arthur, like everyone in the kingdom, is forced to test their strength and to try and pull a mythical sword from a stone. For everyone before him, nothing happens, but when our titular hero clutches the shiny dagger it zaps to life and the earth starts shaking. A hero has been born.
As Law’s darkly gothic, cliche to the bone, baddie snarls about how he wants his threat to his reign dead, Arthur saddles up his squad of do gooders (and one of Merlin’s mage’s played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey) to bring Vortigern down. And it’s here where the movie briefly sparks to life. There is a fun group of fellas here (alas, some with colorful names like Goosefat Bill) and it’s a shame that Ritche barely lets us get to know them. There are too many heavy CGI schematics and giant lustrous snakes to get to. Nevermind if they don’t help the story along, what matters is that Ritchie has been given the keys to the candy shop by Warner Bros, and he intends to spend every penny of his $175 million budget.
Hunnam does have this swagger about him that, at times, you could see why he would make a good hero worth rooting for, but he is never allowed to grow due to Ritchie’s in your face style of making movies. It’s simply too much. Instead of letting scenes play out as usual, Ritchie is determine to leave his imprint, which is part of the reason his last few movies have been less than exceptional. Equally, Law’s character barely has any dynamics that make him a good villain, all he wants (like every bad guy in any movie ever) is all the power in the world. And the means he is willing to take in order to ensure that he gets that power is just silly. When will bad guys fight for something else?
Somewhere in “King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword” there was a story to be told by Ritchie and company, and even if their hearts were all the right place, you can’t watch this movie and help but think, they all have fallen on their own swords. D+