Review: King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword Doesn’t Embrace How Insane It Is
Title: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Director: Guy Ritchie
Summary: Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.
When a movie doesn’t look very good there are a couple of ways it can save itself. It could be so over the top that it becomes a comedy and is fun to watch. It could be so bad that it’s almost like watching a slow motion trainwreck. It could be the style known as “camp” which if often misunderstood if it’s not a musical. The fantasy genre is the perfect place for those over the top and bombastic movies because fantasy has no limitations. As long as you build the world, you can make anything happen which makes for entertaining movies. Director Guy Ritchie is not exactly known for making something campy or going over the top so there was a very good chance that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword wasn’t going work on a fundamental level.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword refuses to embrace how ridiculous it is and instead drags the whole production down the “grim and gritty” path.
While the trailers and the seventeen million TV spots haven’t been filling me with a lot of faith, the opening scene of this movie made me think that maybe there was hope. It started with a huge battle where there were castle sized war elephants with pyramids on their backs. In the pyramids were mages who were casting spells that caused giant fireballs to shoot from the top of the pyramid. That is completely insane and if the rest of the movie embraced how insane all of that is it would be a much better movie. Instead, as soon as the war elephants go away, it’s like they take all of the fun in the movie with them. The movie tries to get that level of energy back by the end but it’s too late. The first and third acts might line up in terms of tone and energy but the second act is a slog to get through.
The second act is just littered with terrible cliches and moments that make no sense. It doesn’t help that Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) goes through more personality changes than a bipolar teenager who hasn’t taken their meds in a month. He goes from a fast talking scoundrel, to defending the whores that raised him, to a leader, to a flirt and back again with regard for consistency. They appear to be channeling the “reluctant hero takes up a cause” thing but the movie opens with Arthur already being a “rob from the rich to give to the poor” type of hero. So it’s like he can’t be reluctant if he has already demonstrated he does care about protecting people who can’t protect themselves. It means that Arthur had no character and nothing to weigh a narrative on.
As previously said the first and third acts are pretty insane and when the movie decides to cut loose it really cuts loose. The ending is a crazy battle that involve giants snake, people transforming themselves into giant fire demons and bullet time scenes straight out of The Matrix only with a sword instead of a gun. Jude Law is our villain and out of everyone he appears to be the only one who might be in on the joke. The problem is his story doesn’t match up with the story that is happening around him. He has a twist concerning him that is much darker than the rest of the movie and only become more obvious as it clashes with the other aspects of the film. It makes everything feel schizophrenic and scattershot. If you combine that with the main character being all over the place you have small parts that work but nothing that form a cohesive whole.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword should have been much better than it was considering the cast and the director. It could have been a lot of fun if it embraced how insane some of it is and carried that insanity throughout the entire picture. Instead it’s a production that never comes together and never comes close to achieving its potential.