Review: Is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword the new Gladiator?

No.

Like not even close.

Like so far apart they might as well be nicknamed Donald and Melania.

But it’s been a solid 13 years since the last time a major Hollywood studio decided to take a punt on the King Arthur legend. If not Gladiator, can it at least measure up to Kiera Knightly and her bitch-pack? (Her description! Not mine!)

arthur

Ruled by King Uther (Eric Bana), Briton is under siege from the war machine led by evil wizard Mordred. But unbeknownst to most, Mordred is in league with the King’s treacherous brother, Vortigern (Jude Law). Sending his only son away, King Uther is removed from power and the kingdom taken over by Vortigern.

Taken in by a bevy of kind prostitutes, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), grows up on the streets of Londinium. But as long as he’s the rightful heir to the throne, he will never be safe. With his friends in tow, Arthur must attempt to reclaim his birthright.

It’s still quite baffling to understand exactly why director Guy Richie was chosen for this project? Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Snatch. Swept Away. Even those two Sherlock Holmes movies. What about those films screamed that he would be great for a big budget fantasy film? Especially since almost all of them are set in a more grounded sense of realism.

Because of this, Legend of the Sword can sort of be seen as a film of two halves. On the one hand you have the Richie-infused character scenes; like the fast and furious repartee between Arthur and his friends or enemies.  This is Richie at his most comfortable. Normal guys with normal talk. Anachronistic, yes. But delightful nonetheless.

The other half however (which to be fair is more like 80%) consists of the CGI filled dross that insist on filling our cinema screens every summer. Unlike say, Lord of the Rings, which presents a reasonably realistic world and infuses it with elements of fantasy; Legend of the Sword uses so much CGI to fill out its world that it feels like the entire project would have been better off as a VR experience.

Indeed such difficultly in emphasis also extends to its cast as, with the exception of the hero and villain, it’s borderline impossible to remember any of their names. Add to that the film is such a sausage-fest that every female character might as well have the phrase “dead-woman-walking” tattooed on their forehead. (Hell, the female lead doesn’t even have a name! Not even in the credits!)

If anything, it’s hard not to be reminded of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood: an origin story of a famed hero of old England, starring a popular handsome actor, crafted by a well-loved director, and which will hopefully lead to many more sequels.

And like Robin Hood, it’s pretty much guaranteed that won’t happen.


King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has no qualms about taking enormous liberties with historical and cultural tales of old. Some to its benefit, some to its downfall. But with Guy Richie’s signature moves, the film manages to somewhat entertain for its mercifully short running time.

Overall Score:

three-stars

Photo Credits: Comic Book Movie, Youtube,

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