Given a Rotten Tomato score of 28%, I don’t find it to controversial to say I don’t recommend this movie as a critic. Despite finding that the Guy Ritchie version of the legend of King Arthur, to overall be a failure it is a very interesting mess. The film stars Charlie Hunnam who is our tough guy protagonist who seems to know where to get a modern David Beckham haircut in Medieval times. I concede that maybe you can enjoy the film if you don’t think about it, but it even hardly put a simple story narrative together. Here are great story elements that King Arthur: Legend of The Sword just didn’t seem to get right.
Knowing What Kind of Story Your Telling?
After watching this film, I felt there was three distinct, clashing genre threads being woven that was cool at parts but sort of proved that the people making this didn’t really grasp what they were going for. The beginning of the movie has a bizarre sequence in which everything is shot as if it’s a gangster heist movie where we have people standing around a table discussing how events are going to go down, then we see them actually happening and there using whip pans across the table to show different people chiming in. This actually sparked my interest for a second, because I thought maybe this was going to be an odd experimental genre-bent film in which It kind of has Medieval times crime boss rise to power story but then they don’t. I think like this moment and another scene where the try to pretty much snipe the king on the grassy knoll but besides that this idea kind of gets abandoned, which makes these scenes out of place. Then the 2nd Act of the movie primarily dedicates itself to being a Dungeons and Dragons Campaign. The fun trials and tribulations journey of enduring tough terrain and fighting hellish monsters is reduced to a minor montage. Fights with hordes of enemies and party members in precarious situations occur in a sort of impromptu D&D fashion to always have some sort of choice or tension happen so no one gets bored. Finally, the 3rd act of the film just wants to be Dark Souls or Skyrim. Some of the effects get painfully noticeable as there are very obvious moments when you can see Charlie Hunnam is swapped out with a 3-D. The generic enemies, poorly written dialogue, and heavy effect design I almost half expect the scene to be cut with an ad telling me I can pre-order with Game Stop today and receive free DLC with order.
It’s often a bad sign when you can’t remember any of the characters’ name. I remembered one… and something tells me when your the titular character and one of the most well known characters in all of literature I don’t think that one counts. I don’t what motivation the acting king had or why he was making deals with Ursula or why what he did in the end. There’s this witch, oracle woman played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey [credited as The Mage] and she’s the awful troupe of the character that has the power to do everything by herself, yet still acts passively and has to convince other characters to do what she is clearly capable of doing. For most of the film she just sort of controls crows to attack people and then towards the end she in Deus Ex Machina fashion decides to summon a giant snake to swallow someone. Seems like a skill or level of power that retroactively made every peril seemingly nonthreatening. I think the characters have some nice interactions playing off one another but in the way that The Wizard of Oz displays in the most simplest terms how vital all characters having a distinct motivation creates rich story, I can’t tell you why half of the ensemble are there.
Then there is the main character and his arc and it’s very simple, the final boss killed my father so I don’t want to fight Final boss but eventually must confront him to achieve my goal. The worst line in the movie hands down is when King Arthur tells final boss that he’s got some insurmountable will to fight and overcome this challenge and anyone still paying attention at this point should be saying “What are you talking About??”. King Arthur this whole movie as been about as begrudging to go on this journey as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. He was heavily influenced by the mage to participate on this journey and never wanted to touch the sword that kept given you PTSD, I don’t understand how refuse the call to action so much, no have a definitive character shift and then pivot into the I’ve been willing to fight this whole time. At least Suicide Squad had a weird sit around the bar getting to know each other scene, develop characters in the slightest, and give the Wreck-It-Ralph just because we bad guy, doesn’t mean we are “bad” guy moment then fight the big bad.
I won’t to keep this short and to the point. People want to defend this movie with the argument that it doesn’t have to true to the “origins” or original story to be good. I would say change the title of the movie to Legend of The Sword, and rename the character to Sir Billy doesn’t change that the story elements of the movie are flawed. I think the movie does have some things to praise, like most medieval fantasy films the scenic locations where well found and the cinematography has it’s moments of good composition even at times if it seems to stylize the narrative in a way that doesn’t truly fit. I think Guy Ritchie even displays vision even if it is cluttered or messy for most of this. I think there are better visual spectacle films and better action based films out their to see over this movie, that why I personally wouldn’t recommend seeing this one, but I have encountered reviews with strong praise for this movie. So considered yourself warned but if you liked or still want to see King Arthur: Legend of The Sword let me know with a comment below why you think it’s awesome. Thanks for reading, always appreciated and I’ll see you at the movies.
Image From King Arthur: Legend of The Sword [credit: Warner Bros]