Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

I was not surprised to see Guy Ritchie’s name attached to a project like this. His Sherlock Holmes movies were box office successes. And while I don’t think they were particularly memorable, they weren’t rubbish. But I admit, I had my doubts because while Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock can be easily modernized, and can easily do “cheeky”. I don’t know how it’ll be if applied on Arthurian Legends. I saw the trailer and boy, it looked like cockney King Arthur might just be a tough pill to swallow.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword‘s opening sequence looks like a Zack Snyder film. Overly gigantic prehistoric elephants trampling around Camelot, men in armor yelling, clashing and clanging. It’s a visual extravaganza in the most massive and loud proportions imaginable. But what makes it not entirely a Zack Snyder rip-off is that the atmosphere isn’t as heavy as 17th century drapes. It is by far, lighter and cheekier. But does the cheekiness work? Well…not really. Not for me, at least. I think the dialogue is a bit too corny. The jokes aren’t as good as I would have liked. I mean I love British comedies, and I was hoping Ritchie would bring some of it to the table. I am not expecting Monty Pythonesque sketch comedy, but just something sharper and wittier.

Ritchie’s visual stylistics is entertaining to watch, sure. Ritchie plays with slow mo shots, tracking shots, zoom ins and zoom outs, and fade ins and fade outs. And there are a handful of gorgeous sceneries. And yeah, I love me some camera acrobatics, but really, it can border on overkill. The narrative isn’t any better. It is repetitive and goes on and on and on. Arthur denying his royal bloodline and destiny, over and over again. Resident villain Vortigern repeatedly having to consult with the creature from the dungeons, and uttering some soap operatic villanous dialogue every chance he gets. And I must say, I don’t think Vortigern makes for a formidable villain. This not being Jude Law’s fault. I mean they have at their disposal Morgana Le Fay or Mordred, which I think are much more interesting and complex characters to bring to life.

But this movie doesn’t lack for diversity that’s for sure. Arthur’s round table is basically United Nations. There’s Kung Fu George played by Hong Kong born actor Tom Wu (although finding a kung fu street hooligan smack dab in the middle of medieval Camelot is just ridiculous), Sir Bedivere played by the Beninese-American actor Djimon Hounsou, Wet Stick played by half Moroccan Kingsley Ben-Adir. Yep, he is called Wet Stick. And there’s another character called Goosefat. I swear. I wonder if these are the kind of nicknames British blokes give each other? If there’s any consolation Charlie Hunnam ain’t bad to look at. Especially if he is sans shirt, and shadow boxing while yelling. It is hilarious. But just what is up with that hair?  Females get the short end of the stick in this retelling too. Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey as The Mage (she is Merlin’s counterpart) gets the most screen time out of all the ladies. But still, they don’t really delve much into her background. They don’t even give her a name aside from “The Mage”. Which is kind of ridiculous because she is every bit as part of the gang and goes with King Arthur all through this crazy adventure, and she is a legit human being for christ sakes.

The movie loses whatever little steam it has as it progresses and I badly wanted anyone, someone to break out into song and dance. Or Dick Van Dyke’s Bert from Mary Poppins to appear and teach everyone how to do a proper, terrible cockney accent. I think I am missing Monty Python too much.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

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