King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is Guy Ritchie’s attempt at bringing this historical legend to the big screen – but can Richie’s modern film-making style truly meld with a middle-ages fantasy?
Simply, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword follows a man named Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) and his quest to take up the magical sword of excalibur to stop the wrath of the kingdoms tyrannical king (Jude Law).
With Charlie Hunam leading as Arthur himself we are met with a brazen yet arguably cocky character as the protagonist, while Hunam is talented, his character’s personality makes it difficult to associate him with a king, especially the one depicted in legend. Arthur seems more like a high-born thug than a ruler. While there are some parts in the film which attempt to flesh out his softer emotional spots, a lot of this is drowned out by the fact that the character was rushed into the story to get towards its big battle sequences and have the crown placed on his head. While depictions of King Arthur vary widely in history, this interpretation feels neither noble nor truly heroic – his macho character felt as though he was written for Jason Statham more than anything else. Astrid Berges-Frisbey plays the role as the mysterious witch Guinevere but her lines of dialogue with her strong French accent are few and far between. Though the man of the hour was Jude Law, he played the best role by far and gave this movie quite a complex villain, his motivations are simple, however his means to attaining power are emotionally driven and were very surprising, he gave a chilling performance.
Ritchie seems to have difficulty moving away from a thuggish story line, this fast paced editing may work in modern crime thrillers, but not with a character that is so significant in history and renowned for being noble and fair. The film dragged along as it tried to build Arthur up as a character, but he more or less stayed the same character from start to finish. His gang that followed his side added some interesting elements to the story but ultimately wasted time which could have been better used setting up Arthur as a character.
You can tell almost immediately from the trailer that this film was going to blend modern camera-work into a historical story line. The quick cuts and editing are just that, quick – it works for a crime thriller which has unsympathetic characters which don’t require your admiration, but Arthur is supposed to be a great man, an honorable man, and a hero; one that we can sympathize with, which sadly, I don’t. The CGI had its ups and downs, and the film pulls in plenty of slow-motion action sequences, but for a budget this high I’ve seen action twice as good with 1/3 the budget from Zack Snyder’s 300 (2006).
While it’s visually charging and offers some interesting elements, most will leave the film underwhelmed, as it brings nothing new to the table with its story-telling.