King Arthur Never Quite Pulls the Sword

Have you ever set out to enjoy a memorable treat but it turned out differently than you expected? That was what I felt like after seeing Arthur. I wanted to like the film - honestly. It had all the elements of a major motion picture; an underdog protagonist, an evil villain, a mysterious magician, special effects and a skilled director. It should have been a winning combination, but the film got stuck in its own proverbial stone. 

A Re-imagined Legend
In a nutshell, Arthur, born the son of a great king, was robbed of his birthright and raised in a brothel. He had no idea of his birthright, but through a chain of events he was confronted with pulling the sword from the stone, and succeeded where all others failed. What followed was a revolutionary plot to overthrow the tyrant king who had stolen the crown, and to take his rightful place.

Where was the Majesty?
Having been a longtime fan of Arthur and the round table folklore, I was ready for a majestic reboot of the timeworn tale. Instead, Director Guy Richie took me on a stylistic journey that was a part myth and part re-imagined plot under the guise of an origins story. This ideology worked well for “Sherlock Holmes,” but it didn’t quite pan out in this story.

Lofty Aspirations Fell Short
First off, the cast led by Charlie Hunnan, felt more like a gathering of rowdy frat boys than a medieval story. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Hunnan in “Pacific Rim,” but this film, (though eagerly carried on his handsome shoulders), lacked the overall grandeur and greatness it seemed to aspire to. 

Arthur's Shallow Portrait
Though Hunnan is Brit-born and bred, I still had difficulty embracing him as Arthur. Moreover, I kept waiting for a “Sons of Anarchy” motorcycle to pull up somewhere because I was unable to forget who he was in the part. I would have liked to see less corny jokes and more development of Arthur's character. His casual transition from street boy, to warrior, to king lacked gravity, and could have been better explored.

Over-stylized Cinematography
The rest of the cast consisted of fellow Brit actor, Jude Law as the evil King Vortigen, Astrid Berges-Frisbey as the Mage, and Djimon Hounsou as Bedevere. Each was adequate in their role, but I couldn’t decide if the film suffered due to hashed editing, over ambitious directing or an implausible plot. To top it all, Ritchie’s directing threw me off the medieval feel with rock rhythms, over-stylized cinematography and special effects, none of which could save the picture.

No Sense of Triumph
Above all, when you lose interest in whether the main character lives or dies – it’s over. By about mid-way through the film it became an endurance test to the end. And never the way to leave a movie theater. It was a nice try, but, I give Arthur, “Legend of the Sword” a 5 out of 10, for making the attempt. 

For more films like this see my reviews on:
Ben Hur
Bridge of Spies
The Butler
The Magnificent 7
Hacksaw Ridge


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