Friday, 19 May 2017

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

*Originally written May 19th, 2017*


Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was one of my least anticipated films of the year for a few reasons. 1. Guy Ritchie is an awful, awful director. 2. Each trailer has been a mess, one shows it as a light hearted fantasy adventure, while the others show it as a gritty, "grounded" take on the King Arthur legend.

Strangely enough, I quite enjoyed King Arthur for the most part, it's hardly great cinema and it's a huge mess, but I had a pretty good time with it. It reminded me a lot of earlier this years 'The Great Wall, a similiarly fluffy and trashy fantasy epic that flopped.

I've never actually watched a single adaptation of the King Arthur tale, so I wasn't really familiar with any of the characters or story. All I knew was the whole "sword in the stone" angle. So it all felt fairly fresh to me. It's hardly original though, it does succumb to some generic CGI battle crap that has plagued recent fantasy films and most blockbusters in general.

Like I said before, I fundamentally hate Guy Ritchie, I find his directing style, far too stylized and obnoxious, and his writing trying far too hard to be Quentin Tarantino. There are a couple of exceptions to his films that I enjoy, Snatch and Sherlock Holmes are the two that come to mind. King Arthur feels like a strange mix of both of these films.

Charlie Hunnam pulling the sword from the stone
That's where it's tonal problems come into play, which is one of my biggest issues with the film. Half the time it feels like a quippy, fast-paced heist film made of montages, while the other half is dark fantasy nonsense that takes itself far too seriously, and neither of these tones clash very well and it swaps between them very jarringly.

Ritchie's direction is easily closest to his Sherlock Holmes films. The period setting is wonderfully detailed, sets, costumes and weapons are all top-notch and a lot of effort was put into it. Though my problems with his direction are still there. Scenes never sit still, everything is always moving at such a fast-pace, where we never get to know any of the characters, aside from the titular King Arthur, making the deaths of a few characters feel meaningless, even though they linger on their deaths like the audience are meants to care.

Charlie Hunnam is the only real notable person to mention from the cast, as everyone else is an after thought, to the point I cannot even remember a single name. Hunnam does a fairly decent job at a leading role in a massive budget blockbuster, bringing enough charisma to the role, plus he is ripped for it. I just really wish there was more than just the lead character to care about. Oh, David Beckham shows up for a mental and distracting cameo for one scene and he is truly awful.

I'd seen a lot of people compare this to last years 'Gods of Egypt' which is a little harsh, as this certainly looks a hell of a lot better visually and actually has some really insane and weird visuals. The lead up to the final battle is essentially a massive acid trip for the lead character, which was an interesting choice to say the least. Daniel Pemberton's score was an extremely pleasant surprise too.

King Arthur is hardly great, or even good cinema, but for the most part, I enjoyed it, which is more than I can ask for with a Guy Ritchie film at this point. He is still a hack though. Oh, and it is laughable that they had 6 films planned for a franchise. No way is that gonna happen.

6/10 Dans

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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