Let me ask the 100 million dollar question: who actually wanted another take on King Arthur? There was the old version with Sean Connery and long haired Richard Gere, and then the Antoine Fuqua cartoonish take with Clive Owen. Budgets lost, never found, and not much juice left on the steak to wonder. So, why another?
I’m sure there was a good idea trapped somewhere in Guy Ritchie’s new film-King Arthur: Legend of the Sword-but the execution just isn’t there. This is a two hour tutorial on how not to make a summer blockbuster film. There’s noisy action, little story composition, and the acting is by the numbers cardboard friendly.
Charlie Hunnam’s movie star looks are the only depth attached to his swing at the legendary son who can pull sword from stone, and the supporting cast all stand around as if they are waiting for their checks to cash. Jude Law was much more appealing at Dr. Watson in Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, but here he is a dull villain with nothing to do but pout for the entire running time.
The plot setup is very familiar, so let me keep it short. Arthur is the son of Eric Bana’s King Uther, who has the magical sword that helps him remain a king. When Uther is betrayed by Vortigern (the name is the reason Law pouts so often), he manages to get Arthur away from the city before he perishes. The kid grows up without knowing who he is or what he is entitled to, so a street fighting thief who lives in a brothel was behind door #2.
Hunnam’s Arthur has a couple pals, gains a few more when suddenly people find out where he is and how much of an impact he can have on the defeat of Vortigern. Oh, and the evil one kind of wants the sword, so there’s that whole messy chase. Arthur spends the entire film reluctant to take over the responsibility until the running time suggest he snap into action. How many heroic tales have to start with the main character grappling with something until the last 30 minutes of the film? It’s tiring.
There’s ambition in the first 45 minutes, and the action sequences are fine eye candy until the second hour introduces all kinds of Matrix Reloaded types of CGI overloaded madness that drowns out the fun, and destroys any small amount of grit that existed in the first place. The film is painfully serious and doesn’t try to add a light touch to the heavy handed action and story development. Ritchie’s Sherlock adventures were thinking man action films with a fair dose of pleasurable comedy, and that made them a hoot. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is overlong, dull, and doesn’t offer much of a fresh take on the material.
Save your hard earned money and spend it on an original blend such as Guardian of the Galaxy, How to Be a Latin lover, or perhaps wait for next week’s boxing flick, Chuck. Nothing reminds a soul more of the recession than seeing their money go to waste on a poor film without much delight.
There are rumors that a three hour plus cut of the film existed at some point. That right there sounds like a round of torture that a Gary Busey spiritual session can’t even touch.
If you love Hunnam, re-watch Sons of Anarchy or perhaps watch the ending of the first film he squared off with Law in-Cold Mountain. He’s no Robert Downey Jr. If you love Ritchie, check out the Sherlock films. That is how you put a large budget to proper use.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an example of how NOT to make a summer blockbuster. Stay away.