Okay, so we all kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really know the story of King Arthur: a boy finds a sword in the stone, he pulls it out, he becomes king, yadda-yadda, round table, merlin, holy grail, it’s just a flesh wound, you know the drill. Alright fine, I admit I am also unfamiliar, but I at least know it is nothing like this.
Too many classic novels have already been ruined by Hollywood’s incapacity to win over young people, a trend embraced by King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. I mean, sure. It delivers the stuff teenage boys waste their Saturday nights on, as assumed from the trailer. Half of those teenage boys may feel satisfied; the other half may feel more let down based on what they were promised.
The surround sound booms enough epicness to make the theatrical experience more impactful than a Blu-ray experience, but neither format improves the simple action watched on screen. Director Guy Ritchie (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Sherlock Holmes) sets no demonstrated sense of continuity with screen direction, resorting to cameras on Steadicam to capture the action up close. Edge of Tomorrow’s editor James Herbert gives some of the worst splicing and dicing I have ever seen in a movie. While watching the brisk pace of each nonlinear montage, I still fail to know whether if the overused flashbacks are supposed to be funny, sarcastic, or whatever. At least his work here matches the way the crew clearly want their viewers to look upon the Arthurian legend, especially when played against snappy rock music.
…which explains why they gave their own take to outdo the original. Today’s teens graciously get the King Arthur who teams up with men wearing modern-day wool beanies accompanied by a black-eyed sorceress to fight against a fiery demon who rules Camelot using 100-ft. elephants and squid women; you know, the what you naturally think of when you hear about 1,500-year-old legends. Arthur fights plenty of other cool monsters as well, all battles lasting merely a second each, in the form of an unintentionally confusing montage.
Even if you have low standards for action scenes, you would never buy into the impossible scenarios, including the now infamous “chosen one cliché,” unbelievable by any stretch here. Not convinced yet of King Arthur’s textbook approach to screenwriting? Perhaps its treatment of women will, who the right-minded men straight-up address as tools. Yes, only two female characters actually try to do something—one a mage who speaks of prophecies and call in deus-ex-machinas birds for weapons. The other just comes in to pass information across different parties. If the producers here are concerned enough about political correctness to cast ethnic actors in a fifth century English setting, you’d guess they would think to write more active female characters.
Nothing to get worked up about over any of the stars either, everyone phones it in for the paycheck, including the two-time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America).
So what did I enjoy? Well, in terms of loyalty to the classic retelling, it does feature some uplifting moral parallels left unscathed. Arthur’s genesis does reflect some inspiration from the account of Moses, and his rags to riches character arc recalls the accounts of Joseph son of Jacob and David king of Israel. These are timeless inspirational tales about men who plummeted to the bottom then rose to the top to save their nation; King Arthur at least recreates it comprehensibly enough.
Sorry, any other praise is asking for too much.
You’re surely now about to categorize King Arthur: Legend of the Sword as an insult to the influential historical legends, since it revises the strong character growth of a man resembling ourselves, replacing it with hip trends mixed with a bit of New Age Paganism. Well guess what? You’re right.
Nobody who respects the source material will appreciate such an insult to storytelling; anyone else might either settle for “good enough” or protest its failure to distribute the promised action. What we got offers no value except convince me that Ritchie’s plan of directing the live-action Aladdin could turn out rather sour.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
“King Arthur - The Legend.” C@erlton. Web. <http://www.caerleon.net/history/arthur/page2.htm>.
King Arthur. Warner Bros., Web. <http://kingarthurmovie.com/>.
Kinoafisha.info - Смотри трейлеры первым!. “Меч короля Артура / Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur (2017) Второй трейлер HD.” Digital image. YouTube. 23 Jan 2017. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFL69W7FOV8>.