King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aiden Gillen, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay, Tom Wu, Bleu Landau, Jude Law
Written by Joby Harold, and Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram with story by David Dobkin and Joby Harold
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Cinematography by John Mathieson
I don’t know much about the legend of King Arthur. Him pulling the sword from stone is all I knew. Guy Ritchie, known for his unique sense of style and storytelling, brings us King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. I went in wanting to enjoy the film to the very end. As I walked out of the theater, I fought with myself trying to find reasons to give this film a good review. Sadly, I can’t. King Arthur carries that Guy Ritchie flare but overstays it’s welcome with a poorly paced, completely forgettable film.
Ritchie gives King Arthur that same style treatment he gave Sherlock Holmes. King Arthur is grandiose in scale and storytelling. The production design is impeccable, creating a semblance of what Medieval Londinium would look like. Carrying over from Ritchie’s earlier work is his storytelling style of rapid-fire dialog. Used sparingly, it provides a great deal of humor needed to balance the more serious tones of the film.
There’s a lot to like about King Arthur. Hunnam is charming as the lead and shows why he’s capable of leading a big budget, action blockbuster. Plus, the supporting cast isn’t too bad either with Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen, and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey working surprisingly well with one another.
Monotone and Boring
Sweeping camera pans can’t save King Arthur from looking so bland. Black and gray are the only two colors in John Mathieson’s color palette. Nearly monotone, the film suffers from looking nearly the same from scene to scene. Even with the addition of mages and wizards, there isn’t enough excitement to prevent you from fighting the drowsiness monster. I looked around the theater and noticed a man had fallen asleep nearly 30 minutes into the film.
I, too, fought bouts of drowsiness multiple times. Despite carrying Ritchie’s storytelling style, the film is hindered by a boring plot that takes way too long to get going. At just two hours and five minutes, the film felt twice as long. It takes way too long to set up side plots and even longer to get to the climax of the story. At times, I drifted off and thought about anything other than the film I was watching. Aside from a few minor details, I was still able to piece together what exactly was happening. For its eventual release on home media, a shorter cut would probably do the film justice.
King Arthur feels like it was cut from the same cloth as Snow White and Huntsman and Sherlock Holmes. Both of those films were aesthetically dark and the former lacked freshness, a sentiment shared by this film.
CG Takes Another Victim
There was a battle sequence that would have been a treasure to sit through if wasn’t reliant on CG. Reminiscent of the Agent Smith fight from The Matrix Reloaded, this fight sequence, showing the powers of Excalibur, looks too cartoonish to be taken seriously. The same is said for the final battle. Maybe the budget for production design, costumes, and paying the insanely large cast ran out when it came time to film those two sequences.
Like Guy Pearce from Memento, I can remember almost nothing from the film. King Arthur tries to be a fun, summer blockbuster but fails at some of the most basic of tasks. I wanted to like the film for its style but was turned off by how much Ritchie tried to inject life into a soulless project.
Great films inspire filmmakers to create equally compelling content. Films like King Arthur inspire filmmakers to create better films.