King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review: Fluff and Hero Stuff
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword hereafter referred to as King Arthur tells the story of Romeo and Juliet… just kidding. It tells the origin story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable and how King Arthur comes to power. Think Sword in the Stone but with CGI and handsome men. Nothing much is new storywise in this rehashing of a classic story, but that doesn’t mean it is terrible.
With the dashingly handsome and rugged Charlie Hunnam as Arthur, we follow him on his quest to discovering who he is and taking his rightful place as King. Standing in his way is King Vortigern played by Jude Law. Vortigern takes control of the kingdom after murdering Arthur’s father, Uther (Eric Bana, oh hey Eric Bana. Where have you been? Not in many movies I see. I missed you!) During a battle, in a last-ditch effort to save his son, Uther fights off the monster and sets Arthur free in a boat. Once safely out of the kingdom, Arthur spends his childhood and part of adulthood growing up in a brothel. Surprisingly, there aren’t any jokes about that. No, really. They don’t go there, which, given the places the humor goes in this film, why not?
Anyway, Arthur gets captured as Vortigern is searching for the heir to King Uther’s throne, the only person worthy of pulling Excaliber out of the stone. See, Disney did get it right! Pulling Excaliber out of the stone throws Arthur into the limelight, and he must become the man he is supposed to be and take back the kingdom. He has some help along the way from a mage played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey along with other characters, soon to become the Knights of the Roundtable, and if that’s a spoiler, then you need to read more. Have you been living under a … stone?
Part of the problem with this film is that there are far too many characters to track and care about. There are a bunch of knights, and then Merlin is in there somewhere, which I don’t even know if you ever see his face. Arthur has a few buddies who tag along with him the whole way such as Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), The Mage, Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen), and a father and son duo, Back Lack (Neil Maskell) and his son Blue (Bleu Landau). Like I said, there are a lot of characters to track, and most of them are great and play their roles well. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey who plays The Mage gives a pretty awful performance. Her lines are delivered flat and have zero emotion or emphasis to them. It sounds like someone who is poorly reading directly from a script. All of the scenes she is in are distracting and disjointed from the rest of the film. This is particularly difficult because she plays a crucial role. I’ve seen her in other roles where she is fantastic. I don’t know what happened here. The stars of the film, Charlie Hannum and Jude Law are great in their roles. They take on their parts and play them well. They carry the film.
Another issue is that a lot of the interesting things in the film are done in montage and just glanced over. It tried to tackle too many things at once. Those scenes have the potential to be fascinating and great, but it seemed like they tried to cram too much into this 2-hour film. It would’ve benefitted to have two movies made, but I understand the reason why there was such a crunch. Arthur’s childhood and part of his adulthood is handled in a few minute montage.
The humor in the film plays a major part. Without the humor, it would be boring and painful to sit through. While it is a huge crux of the film, the humor is a bit hit and miss. Some parts play well where Arthur gives a run down of how things are going to happen with quick-witted banter and is enjoyable. In the same token, Vortigern decides to talk into an ear he just severed to give a message. You see where I am going here.
Something else I found to be distracting at the beginning was the music. It was the traditional music you would expect to hear in that period and it fit well. All of a sudden, there’s this hardcore electric guitar music and then some electronic bass music next. It was a bit jarring at first, but then once I got used to it, it fit the scenes pretty well and adding to the excitement.
All in all, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a great popcorn flick. The action scenes are fun to watch, and Charlie Hunnam and Excaliber are kicking ass and taking names. Jude Law is a terrifyingly fantastic villain and gives us a reason to cheer on Arthur. Huzzah! While it may not be the best film, it is certainly a blast to watch, even with its faults.