Watching King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, was like watching the physical representation of someone’s CrossFit playlist.
Bravado. Quick cuts. Driving, fast-paced soundtrack. Slo-mo action sequences. And oh so so so many cockney accents. It has all the makings of a typical Guy Ritchie film, which is not to say that’s a bad thing, however, it’s very strange when applied to a legend like the King Arthur story. Truth be told, something different needed to happen with this source material because it feels as if every prior iteration of this story is pretty much the same old thing. So on that front, I do applaud Ritchie for going for it and I think some of the things he did try differently worked to the movie’s advantage.
Ritchie did accomplish some interesting storytelling methods by avoiding the pitfalls of classic origin story tropes. For example, instead of spending precious screen time on Arthur’s upbringing on the streets, Ritchie chooses to take care of showing his journey from boyhood to manhood via a shortened and sped up montage. Another perfect example is when Arthur’s group is about to attempt to convince others factions to fight alongside them, but instead Arthur stops them and explains how it would go down (while the audience is treated to seeing this play out), something that is extremely familiar with Ritchie’s films. These sounds like simple things, but any other adaptation would’ve chosen to spend time on these moments which would ultimately bog the movie down.
The film did a solid job of showing the legend before the legend in Arthur’s father by showing him wielding Excalibur and using it to fight back the forces of evil when his brother (Jude Law) stages a coupe ultimately orphaning Arthur. This all takes place during the first moments of the movie, but is a nice added touch of the Arthur folklore. From there, you can pretty much paint by the numbers with Arthur taking his rightful place by film’s end and the journey to get there is certainly entertaining, but something is to be said for a piece, an intangible thing, missing from this movie.
I do hate that King Arthur is apparently labeled a box office bomb already because it was entertaining and different. Sometimes people aren’t truly ready for that given the older source material. Where I feel the film will be overlooked is in the acting, which is by no means Oscar worthy, but did do something to keep the film afloat from being parody or on the edge of obscurity. With standout performances by Eric Bana, Jude Law and Charlie Hunnam, Arthur manages to be a serviceable early summer watch while you’re waiting for the true box office blockbusters to debut. It’s easily worthy of streaming and missing completely in the theater, but if you find yourself with time and a matinee showing, I would recommend seeing this. You’ll walk out thinking that it was fun and entertaining and will be no more worse for wear.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – 3 GARYS