This was a major Blockbuster that got announced, but it wasn’t really on my radar. I only found much out about it after I asked a lot of my friends what films they were most excited about seeing this year and a lot of them pointed to this new King Arthur film. I am not much of a fan of Arthurian myth and legend, but that’s not to say I don’t like it, I just haven’t indulged myself in large amounts of it. But I am up to the idea of it being re-imagined again for a new audience and it was being directed by Guy Ritchie. Now, I like a lot of Guy Ritchie’s films, and he has done some decent work in the past, I was especially surprised how much I enjoyed his two Sherlock Holmes films and I am excited about his next project, which will be a live adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin. It’s just, for all the good he has done, he has never done any films that have been amazing, and I was really hoping that this could be the one that breaks the mould. So, how does King Arthur Legend of the Sword pan out now I have seen it.
King Arthur’s plot is, well, rather more interesting in a word, than I would have first thought. After the ruler Uther (played by Eric Bana), is overthrown by his brother Vortigern (played by Jude Law), descension reigns in the kingdom as people wait for the true rightful heir to claim his place on the throne. The claim comes in the adopted son of a prostitute Arthur (played by Charlie Hunnam) who, with some persuasion, rallies his force together to take back the kingdom with the help of his legendary sword Excalibur.
If you are coming into this expecting a classis Arthurian story in the vein of the recent Sherlock Holmes films, you are sadly mistaken. There are several references to Arthurian myth and legend, but they are very minor token references. If anything, the film borrows from an endless number of sources, including Assassins Creed, Robin Hood and most notably Game of Thrones especially towards the beginning and end. It frankly doesn’t feel like much is actually going on. The plot synopsis doesn’t aid and highlight what an awful screenplay this film has. Guy Ritchie may have had help, but he is also a screenplay writer, so this is very clearly his baby. Especially considering the other two script writers, Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram have written good films in the past. It also, frankly feels like not much is happening, because everything moves at an extraordinarily fast pace, this film never gives a moments rest for the audience, it’s constantly on and its constantly fast paced. It feels like Guy Ritchie has discovered Red Bull whilst writing the script, that the only explanation I can find for why the story never seems to care about why anything is happening or who it is happening too, it never builds up character, in fact there’s very little character development. Anytime it decides to stop or do anything, it’s a very generic movie that left me lacking in the caring department. The film also takes great notes to refer to Charlie Hunnam’s character as Arthur, because frankly, he is so bland and unremarkable, he could be any hero, which is why they constantly refer to him as Arthur.
Also, if you were expecting the whole ‘knights of the round table’ thing, or much from the Arthur legend, you are going to be short changed, since Arthur is basically organising a generic resistance (can you say Star Wars much) throughout the entirety of the film. While it does build to the whole idea of the knights of the round table as well as other parts of the Arthurian legend in a sequel, I don’t think this film will do well enough to warrant one, which will leave the audience wanting. This is especially helped by the fact that Merlin doesn’t make an appearance in the entire film, though is referenced. Merlin is bought up as being part of the Mages, who are said to be a group of people who have fallen foul of the kingdom and been outlawed, but the plot line of this goes absolutely nowhere since only one mage appears in the film, who is played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey and her character is so unremarkable, they didn’t even bother to give her a name. Imdb and the credits just refer to her as The Mage, it only gets worse from there. There are so many sub plots that go absolutely nowhere. There are several plot creatures and magic that are bought up early on in the film that don’t get much of an explanation. Plus, despite the fact that Camelot is referenced it’s barely used in the entire film.
That’s frankly putting it mildly though, I had no idea what was happening throughout this entire film. The plot is so speedy you are never allowed to catch your breath. It frankly feels like the film darts back and forth between scenes and plot points in a desperate attempt to get a laugh out of its audience that comes off as “pandering”. It’s the equivalent of shaking keys in front of a baby, it’s nothing but movement and noise with no substance whatsoever! I don’t know where to even go with this film, I want to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say, this whole Hamlet thing with Arthur ruling the kingdom, feels boring, bland and feels like it doesn’t have much of a satisfying conclusion. The worlds “self-fulfilling prophecy” seem to smack across this guy’s face throughout the film, which will make more sense to anyone who has seen the movie. Not to mention that Vortigan is such a weak villain. The only portion of the film that teased magic users with massive war elephants the size of castles that had to be taken down Shadow of the Collosus style, what does he do, he has a slightly temporary demonic form that look like a cross between Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat and Killian Murphy’s interpretation of the Scarecrow (trust me it’s not as awesome as it sounds). It’s one of the most un-original villain designs I have ever seen. In fact, that’s another point, the film is so un-original on several levels. Not only does it borrow sources, it doesn’t understand what made those elements and those sources work so well. What’s more, I felt bored watching this film, put it this way, I have seen a lot of films that were atrocious this year, but this was the most boring one of them. The film never gave me a reason to care about anything that was happening. Mainly because the characters are such “nothings”, there is nothing to them whatsoever. Every plot point feels like it is too rushed and not well thought out and not well executed.
As for the actors, Charlie Hunnam has clearly been cast in this film due to his success in the TV series Vikings, however, I don’t think this film will be a prime example of, if he ever gets a movie career off the ground, because this role is not him at his best. Mind you his part is badly written, so it’s probably not entirely his fault. Astrid Berges-Frisbey doesn’t have gain much to do in this film and whenever she does, she seems like she is half-hearted as well. Jude Law looks bored half the time he is on film, having to do the minimal amount of acting possible and I am sorry, I like Jude Law, I think he is a decent actor, but he is not great at playing villains, occasionally he can get it right, but the problem with Jude Law is that he is too much of a nice guy, he can’t really leave that at the door. Djimon Hounsou, I feel so sorry for you! Why in the name of all that is holy can you not pick any good movie roles in the last few years, with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy. You are a great actor!! I have loved you in some of your films, but it seems like you are picking the worst scripts I have seen in recent memory. I feel so sorry for him between this and the previously reviewed Seventh Son. In an interview, he said he took this role because he wanted to start playing good guys so his son could root for him, but he needs to pick his roles better! The best performance is the film is from Eric Bana, which is shame because he is not in the film all that much, but Eric Bana is the one who feels he is trying the hardest. Other than that, there’s a lot of decent roles for good character actors like, Aiden Gillen, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay and Tom Wu, but they because their parts are so thinly written, they kind of get lost in the background. I am not too impressed with this cast and to be honest it doesn’t feel like they are giving their ‘A’ material, but then again, as I mentioned their parts are badly written so it’s not entirely their fault.
As for the presentation. I am going to come out and say it “this film has been made for the 3D market”. If you are going to see the film I would recommend you see it in that format since my 2D screening was marred by a lot of effects aimed at that market that were clearly not well executed because the 3D effect is entirely absent from the film. Now we have got that out of the way, holy crap, this film has terrible special effects. I am not even kidding, this is some of the worst effects I have seen in a major motion picture in a long time. The effects are frankly laughable at times, some of the worst CGI backgrounds and the little practical effects they had were barely used, and they weren’t that great. I would like to remind you that this film had a $175,000,000 budget and I have no idea what they spent that on. Some of the earlier effects are quite good, but it’s all downhill after the first action scene. Not to mention the other factor in the matter, the editing. Now the cinematography is alright for the most part, but dear god, whoever did the editing in this film, you need to go to Axia because you clearly need a diagnosis of ADHD. This film’s editing gives Assassins Creed a run for its money in how appalling it is. The whole thing looks and feels like it is edited to be like a music video. I actually counted during one sequence, where Arthur went to a dark world or something (it’s never properly explained and went pretty much nowhere and just sped the plot along), but during that scene, it was so horribly edited to keep the sequence going, I actually counted how many shots lasted five seconds before they were cut and I couldn’t get a single one. The editor very clearly thinks very little of his audience to do this.
If King Arthur Legend of the Sword has one bonus to it, it’s the fact that it has a decent soundtrack. Some of the songs that have been written for it are pretty good and the whole things score is pretty good. I will give it credit, where credit is due I actually did like the film’s score for this movie, but that is not going to save it for me. King Arthur Legend of the Sword has been one of the dullest and dumbest films I have seen all year so far and as we are approaching the half way point of the year, that is saying a lot. The script is horrendous, not being able to focus on any plot points and give a decent character development and plot progression. It is edited appallingly, the acting is sub-par and the action scenes all range from ok to atrocious. The film frankly feels like a cash grab to market on the popularity of Game of Thrones and while audiences will initially buy into it, they won’t stick around for it. This is not a film that I suspect will get a cult following in years time. I feel sorry for the clearly over talented cast that deserve better than to be in this movie. I didn’t even mention David Beckham’s horrendous cameo that feels like a “do me a favour” type thing. This film was atrocious and I couldn’t wait to get out of the cinema because I found it incredibly jarring and boring and I wasn’t even laughing at some of the humour they attempted to do with it. I was close to hating this film and I may even decide after I have let it settle down that I actually do hate it. Skip this film and it’s laughable special effects.
Well no more mini reviews this week and there won’t be any next week either due to my obligations. However, do come back next week, when I will be doing a full review in the next sequel to one of my all-time favourite films, it’s Pirates of the Carribean, Dead Men Tell no Tales.
Thanks a lot for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it, and yes, I know it’s called Salazar Revenge in the UK, but I refuse to call it by that title because it’s a lot stupider and simplistic in the American title and the American title is frankly better and fits what I gathered about the plot better.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant
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