King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword gives zero fucks. Slick and stylish yet weird and vapid, the latest Guy Ritchie film is at once oddly entertaining and incredibly shallow. It’s a movie that you’ll enjoy only if you give in to the strangeness of it all and relish in Ritchie’s quick-cut storytelling approach. It’s also a movie that, with a little more substance, could have actually been good.
Ritchie, best known these days for his stylish reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, attempts to do the same for King Arthur, a recognizable character who was last seen in mainstream cinemas in 2004 when Keira Knightley played a barely clothed warrior version of Guinevere for some reason I cannot recall (the movie pretty much sucked). With Ritchie at the helm, it was guaranteed that we wouldn’t get a straight-up King Arthur flick, and straight-up this movie most certainly is not.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has the titular character (Charlie Hunnam) growing up cleaning stains of the walls and ceilings in a brothel after his father the King (Eric Bana) is murdered by his brother (Jude Law) following a nasty war with a magical mage army. The brother, as it turns out, made a deal with Ursula from the Little Mermaid to claim power. He takes over the kingdom in a way that would make Stannis Baratheon green with envy--until Excalibur appears and a reluctant Arthur is rescued by rebels to start an insurrection.
As my friend who went to the movie with me pointed out (he hated the movie), the reluctant hero motif is as tired and cliche as they get. As a result, the story here is pretty tedious as it marches toward its inevitable conclusion while wasting a good hour or more with Arthur not even interested in holding Excalibur, primarily because it gives him migraines, PTSD flashbacks and funny sensations in the underpants. The character development is pretty dreadful as well, with few offering any reason why we should care about them, let alone understand who they are. Jude Law makes for a deliciously evil villain, but he too suffers from a lack of intriguing back story or anything that separates him from a thousand other power-hungry villains that have long been forgotten through cinematic history.
Still, the movie gives zero fucks, and there’s something refreshing about it. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is stupid and zany and weird, but Ritchie’s stylish direction makes up for at least some the film’s shortcomings. The movie looks fantastic and there are times when Ritchie gets on a roll and delivers the goods. The screenplay isn’t great, but Richie’s quick-cut editing makes for some surprisingly sharp and entertaining dialogue sequences.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword isn’t for everyone and harsh criticisms are justified, but the movie’s frenetic, balls-to-the-wall nature offers just enough entertainment value to give at least one fuck about it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.