While Guy Richie’s ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ isn’t the King Arthur film I’d hoped for, it is often surprisingly more entertaining than expected. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou and Jude Law, this film uses fast paced dialogue and action, a CGI filled environment, and a comical cameo from footballer David Beckham to give audiences a modern day adaptation loosely based on the Arthurian legends.
As a young boy, the kingdom that Arthur’s family occupies is attacked and put under the rule of a cruel dictator. Vortigern (Law), the new ruler, begins to search for the child prince who escaped the castle by forcing males of the correct age to attempt to draw the sword Excalibur from the stone. After Arthur (Hunnam) successfully pulls the sword, he soon becomes aware of his royal lineage and must decide whether to accept his birthright and fight for his place on the throne.
Director Guy Ritchie is in some ways like Zack Snyder, filmmaker behind ‘300’ and several of the recent DC Comics films like ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. They are both extremely stylistic directors whose films generally have a common look and feel to them that is different than your average movie. In the case of ‘King Arthur’, the film feels like a mix of the English filmmaker’s style shown in ‘Snatch’ and the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series. This means a lot of quick, clever dialogue mixed with fast paced action, and in the more modern films, a digital looking world.
This version of “King Arthur” has an Arthur, played by Hunnam, and there couldn’t be a better choice in my opinion to portray the character. It has a Merlin of sorts and a character who is close to a Genevieve type, but where is Lancelot, Galahad or Gawain? Ritchie is said to be signed on for a six-film deal that involves the ‘Arthur’ series, so I’m holding out hope that some of these characters will show up later, but if this installment is any indication on the quality of the planned series, I’ll believe a multiple film deal when I see a sequel.
One of the biggest treats of watching the film was David Beckham’s cameo as an angry solider type. At first glance, I wasn’t sure, but luckily the film does a double take and more to show the actor clearly to the audience. This truly added no value to the source material, but at very least provided a quality laugh out loud moment if you’re familiar with the former English soccer player.
I had heard there was a “King Arthur” film in the works and had hoped for a quality interpretation of the medieval legend. Whether you call it stylistic, creative, imaginative, or simply over the top, Ritchie brings a very specific type of filmmaking to his movies, and audiences generally either like the style or don’t. Much like his ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series, I’m afraid this version of ‘King Arthur’ will never be anything more than average, but for a fan of the material, hopefully that will be enough to warrant additional films.
3 out of 5 stars.
‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language. Running time is 2 hours and 6 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance writer, photographer/videographer, and filmmaker in Dallas, TX. You can find more of his work on Selig Film News. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when he is not reviewing movies, Hayden works in film production. Don't like what he has to say? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt. Enjoy the movies!