Movie Review: ‘King Arthur Legend of the Sword’

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King Arthur Legend of the Sword - Charlie Hunnam as Arthur

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has all the aesthetics of a Guy Ritchie film with none of the attention to details that make Ritchie’s other films so enjoyable. The film is surprisingly hollow and time would be better spent just watching the trailers and playing Shadow of Mordor. I never had much hope for this film to begin with. Even with Ritchie at the helm, movies based on the legend of King Arthur never seem to live up to the hype. Antoine Fuqua’s 2004 take, King Arthur, was the last film involving the lore of the mystical King that I watched (not in theaters) and it was barely passable. At least that film had a basic coherent plot, engaging characters and a narrative flow. Legend of the Sword has none of that. 

 
Legend of the Sword works better as a series of trailers than a full length movie. It has very little interest in setting up or expanding on characters it introduces. Everything serves as a way to get to the next “badass” moment for Charlie Hunnam’s Arthur. This wouldn’t be a problem if Hunnam was 1) strong enough of an actor to make his Arthur believable and interesting 2) the action sequences weren’t absolutely horrendous.
 
King Arthur Legend of the Sword - Djimon Hounsou as Bedivere

Photo Credit: Daniel Smith

The last three films that Guy Ritchie directed were The Man from U.N.C.L.E and two Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. Those three films, like Legend of the Sword all include Ritchie’s distinctive director fingerprints on them. Except for one thing: Unlike the previous films, Legend of the Sword doesn’t give Charlie Hunnam another actor to play off of. Man from U.N.C.L.E paired Armie Hammer and Henry Cavil. Sherlock Holmes puts the eccentric Holmes played by Downey against the straight laced Watson, played by Law. Hunnam is playing a street smart Arthur who was raised in a brothel and bucks authority. While not my choice for a King Arthur movie, it could have been interesting and entertaining. The problem is, none of the other characters that could play that opposite to Hunnam/Arthur are used in that way. Hunnam just doesn’t have the range to carry a film like this on his own without any other characters to consistently play off of. Between his limited acting ranged (limited to the same facial expression no matter the scene) and his sad excuse for an accent coming and going like a summer’s breeze, this is just a role he should never have been cast for. 

 
Djimon Hounsou as Bedivere is criminally unused. He’s just around in the film with no real backstory as to his significance or any real connecting dialogue with Arthur. This problem permeates throughout the entire cast. Astrid Berges-Frisbey is treated horribly. Her character is the “Merlin” of the story but she doesn’t even get a name. She’s just called “The Mage”. The range and limits of her magic are never explained, why she was chosen to help is never mentioned (just a passing mention of Merlin) and she has very little dialogue. Rinse, wash, repeat that for the rest of the cast. 
 
King Arthur Legend of the Sword - Jude Law as Vortigern

Photo Credit: Daniel Smith

As expected Jude Law stands head and shoulders above everyone else and that just adds to the problems with the film. Law in this film reminds me of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending. Both put in performances that make me think they read a far more serious and well thought out script than the rest of the cast. There are multiple times during this film where I find myself asking why Law is taking this role so much more seriously than everyone else. Vortigern’s motivations in this film are so simplistic yet Law is so over the top that he outacts the script. For all his acting by the end of the film I still had no strong feelings about his character either way.

 
All of this would be forgivable if the film was at least the bare minimum amount of fun required of a typical mindless summer blockbuster. Yet even in that department, Legend of the Sword disappoints. The action is just as lackluster and disappointing as that of the Conan The Barbarian film from a few years back. There’s a lot of slow motion to make scenes seem “cool” while masking the dullness. I should also point out that there’s a lot of unoriginality in this film. The film opens with scenes that look like they came straight from Return of the King’s final battle. The tower that Vortigern is building looks eerily similar to the towers in the Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor video game. Even the way Arthur fights when he taps into the powers of his trusty sword Excalibur are reminiscent of fights in Shadow of Mordor. End of the day this film feels more like a Lord of the Rings heavy metal music video than an attempt at a real summer blockbuster. 
 
King Arthur Legend of the Sword - Astrid Berges-Frisbey as 'The Mage'

Photo Credit: Daniel Smith

For some reason this film is also in 3D. Everyone makes poor life choices, so if you purchased a ticket to this film, I can understand. But if you also purchased a 3D ticket, well now I’m concerned by your clear cry for help as this a blatant case of self harm. Our screener was in 3D and honestly I wish studios would stop doing that. Best case scenarios for most films is the 3D is barely noticeable and while it adds nothing to the film, it also doesn’t distract from it. But for films like Legend of the Sword, bad 3D instantly knocks the score down at least 2 points. Why? Because as much as I didn’t like the action in the film, I believe being forced to watch it in 3D only made those scenes worse. 

 
This film is as bad as I thought it would be. If you’re thinking about seeing King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, just go purchase your ticket to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 again. Thank me later.

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Kriss4
This movie works better as a series of trailers & music videos and not as a serious summer blockbuster
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