Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is Unnecessary yet Forgettable Fun
From the early 1950s leading up to 2017, the character of King Arthur has appeared in over 100 different television shows and movies. I think it goes without saying that King Arthur has had his fair share of the spotlight from Hollywood, which may make some viewers wonder why Warner Brothers would spend 100 million dollars to tell his story once again. Well, the truth is money. King Arthur is a very bankable character. The 2004 film, which was released by Disney made over $200 million worldwide with a 90 million dollar budget. If you look at the history of the character, even if King Arthur’s story doesn’t sell to USA markets, his story is well loved and known across the world, therefore, making King Arthur a story worth retelling or reinventing over and over again.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is the latest King Arthur story to hit the big screen. This time around, Guy Ritchie directs and Charlie Hunnam takes on the role of King Arthur. It should be stated right away, that this film could have honestly been any medieval times story. There is absolutely no mention of the name King Arthur until the last 5 minutes and the way that Arthur’s story is told in this reimagining is very loosely based on the story that we have grown to know over the past several decades.
With that being said, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is as you may have guessed, an origins story. The first ten minutes of the film sets up the plot and we barely get to spend any time with Arthur as a child even though it’s pivotal to the story. We actually watch Arthur go from a 5-year-old boy to a man in what seemed like a less than a five-minute montage. This is incredibly odd considering the film runs a little over 2 hours long and we couldn’t at least get 15-20 minutes with Arthur as a young orphan. This was kind of an odd choice since it would have been nice to be able to feel sympathy for this little boy instead of quickly turning him into this shirtless handsome hunk.
I can’t believe I am saying this but Charlie Hunnam is the glue that holds this thing together. I have been on the fence about Hunnam as an actor for a while now but after seeing him in the Lost City of Z and now, this film, I think Hunnam has a lot of range and can play it serious or totally chew up the scenery. He has a very likable on-screen presence and I was worried that he would just be an actor that got roles because he looks good but luckily that doesn’t seem to be the case (or at least, not the only reason). Hunnam embraces the material and just has fun with it. He adds some much-needed comedy but he also kicks a lot of ass as well. He is a great fit for the role and the material.
Alongside Hunnam, you have a pretty large cast that includes several big name actors such as Jude Law, Eric Bana, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. While I wouldn’t say that any of these actors were particularly great, I would say that they were all serviceable to the material minus Berges-Frisbey who is simply dreadful as the Mage. I don’t know how anyone who watched Berges-Frisbey read her lines kept saying “cut, let’s move onto the next scene.” They honestly must not have been paying attention at all because her performance is entirely one-note for the entire film. It honestly looked like she was reading the script while saying the lines without any sort of emotion or facial movements whatsoever.
The film itself is bloated and tries to cover way too much in such a short amount of time. While I wouldn’t say that the film was dull or boring, I did feel like there were too many things going on and too many characters to focus on. I seriously couldn’t keep track of all the faces that kept appearing on-screen and the way that the script kept introducing these characters and giving them very little screentime became a bit frustrating as the film went on. It seemed like Ritchie and his writing team was trying to tell several stories in one film and sadly that didn’t always work in the film’s favor.
For anyone who has ever seen a Guy Ritchie film, you know how he likes to shoot his action sequences and edit his films. Ritchie’s technique hasn’t changed and his typical techniques are used several times throughout this film. While I understand that directors have a certain style or shooting technique, I find Ritchie’s use of slow-motion and quick edits to be very distracting and jarring, no matter how many times I watch his films. I found it very distracting here and even felt a bit motion sickness towards the end. It gets a bit much and honestly at one point, it feels like you are watching a video game rather than actual actors.
The pacing of the film is fine but as I mentioned earlier, there is too much going on and not enough time is spent fleshing out some of the supporting characters and their stories. We are introduced to so many people yet know nothing about them. There are even some people introduced that just show up for a scene and then disappear from the film completely. You can’t help but wonder where did that guy or that girl go. This is one of those films where critics will more than likely complain about plot holes because I know there has to be several of them because hell I couldn’t remember what happened to half of the characters and I just watched the film less than 2 hours ago.
All in all, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is unnecessary but forgettable fun. While not a must-see film, it is pure popcorn entertainment. Legend of the Sword is the type of film that you will forget about almost instantly when exiting the theater but will more than likely revisit a few times once it hits cable or Netflix. I can’t say that it’s worth the full price of admission at the multiplex but if you can catch it a bargain matinee or on Blu-Ray, you can do a lot worse than King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a 6 out of 10.