At last a film about King Arthur because as history has proven over the years the public love a film about the Arthurian legend with Antoine Fuqua’s 2004 film ‘King Arthur’ costing $120m and flopped so obviously with a new film costing $175m what could possibly go wrong? In fairness the omens were not good for this with its release date being knocked back by ten months and with the script having gone through a myriad of incarnations and this presents him as a chirpy cockney geezer which is hardly surprising as Guy Ritchie both directs and co-scripts in which capacity he’s been liberally borrowing from a number of sources most notably in its opening scene’s homage to The Two Towers battle sequence as gargantuan elephants batter down castle walls, viaducts el al presumably in the quest for doughnuts. It’s a scene that sets up Eric Bana’s King Uther being double crossed by his brother Vortigern (Jude Law) who seizes power as King whilst his young nephew Arthur escapes into the wildes of England. Its with a King Herod type obsession that Vortigern goes after his young nephew who is rightful heir to the throne and who is raised in a brothel learning how to survive and growing up to be Charlie Hunnam (although Jude Law doesn’t seems to remain at a constant age during this time). With Arthur growing up as an almost Artful Dodger type character in a swift montage he finally finds his destiny as he pulls the sword from the stone in a pivotal scene he shares with the renowned Shakespearian actor David Beckham who has had a lot of stick and is not anywhere near as bad as is being made out. The problem here is that old Goldenballs is somewhat distracting in such a pivotal scene.
So Arthur now wielding his giant sword which seems to make him lightheaded because, as a few blessed men can attest, all the blood seems to rush to him lifting his giant chopper (You’re fired! – Ed) and so he starts to lead a rebellion against Vortigern and his metal masked malevolent minions and in turn take his rightful throne.
This is Ritchie’s biggest budgeted film to date and all the money is on screen with decent production design and good effects but the problem with the film is several fold. Hunnam as Arthur is a bit too cocky and arrogant to be endearingly likeable and despite being an heroic figure there are at least two occasions where he’s saved by a female Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and her magical powers. Though there are many exhilarating action scenes with Ritchie’s customary bravura camera work and editing the bits between are a bit dull. The script freely borrows from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and his giant snakes (and if you don’t like slithering snakes there are scenes in this that will have you running for the exit) as well as biblical nods and the script is rife with explanatory flashbacks.
After the financial flop of The Man from Uncle which failed to launch a franchise Ritchie needs a hit and this is unlikely to be the film that does it.
Here’s the trailer…….