King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

  • Time: 126 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Drama
  • Director: Guy Ritchie
  • Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Aidan Gillen, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana


Harrelson stars as Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife (Laura Dern) and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara) he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her.

One review

  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not a re-telling of the classic myth per se, though it does use the tale as a thinly skinned narrative. What it is, first and foremost, is a Guy Ritchie film and, when it adheres to that mindset, it serves as a fairly enjoyable piece of entertainment for nearly two-thirds of its 125-minute running time. Unfortunately, it’s done in by a CGI-laden, bombastic finale that seems more apropos for a Warcraft flick than for the rough and tumble, the lads are all here story that precedes it.

    Ritchie does not possess an expert hand with CGI-driven spectacles, at least not in the manner that CGI is deployed in this work. The flash of his films have always derived from the style of his storytelling – the rhythms of his dialogue and the beats of his editing resembling pugilist’s blows mixed with the legerdemain of a conjurer – and if there’s CGI or special effects involved, there’s an organic quality to them that enhances rather than overpowers. The balance is already off in King Arthur’s prologue as corrupt mage Mordred unleashes gigantic, wrecking ball-wielding elephants and a swarm of soldiers to lay siege on Camelot. The pageant is too much, almost deflecting from the real focus of this section, which is to establish the betrayal of good king Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) by his throne-hungry brother Vortigen (Jude Law). Uther and his queen are dead by prologue’s end, their murders witnessed by their son who, like Moses, drifts away in a boat to be found by prostitutes and raised in the mean streets of Londinium.

    Believing himself the bastard son of a prostitute, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grows up to be a strapping and resourceful man, as skilled with his fists as with a sword, and the de facto leader of a group that includes best friends Wetstick (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and Backlack (Neil Maskell). A confrontation with the Vikings forces Arthur to escape from the city, though he ends up being rounded up along with thousands of other men of similar age and taken to Vortigen’s castle where they must try to pull a mysterious sword out of a stone to prove that they are not the boy king who threatens Vortigen’s reign. Much to his shock, Arthur not only succeeds but learns of his true birthright as well as the identity of the man behind his parents’ death. From thereon in, it’s a race against the clock as Vortigen and his minions hunt down Arthur and his comrades, with Vortigen and Arthur both determined to take the other down.

    With the charismatic Hunnam in the lead and the tempest of swaggering machismo on hand, King Arthur often resembles a medieval-set episode of FX’s Sons of Anarchy in which Hunnam’s Jax Teller spent nearly seven seasons similarly refusing to accept his destiny. As with that television show, King Arthur is populated with brutal unsentimentality and violence and a rambunctious energy that’s best exemplified by the chaos that erupts following a failed assassination attempt by Arthur and his gang, who race through the narrow and labyrinthine streets. The thrill is lusty and infectious and, like with so many things in this movie, stopped cold by the CGI-riven moment that doesn’t so much punctuate as puncture.

    Excepting last summer’s underappreciated The Man from U.N.C.LE., which featured two cracking female leads in Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki, King Arthur continues Ritchie’s streak of underdeveloped and frankly uninteresting female characters. As always, this is very much a testosterone parade with a bevy of magnetic males like Djimon Hounsou and Hunnam’s Queer as Folk paramour Aiden Gillen making the most of their supporting roles. Also maximising his presence is Law, who not only gives good glower but conveys the torment that lives side-by-side with Vortigen’s hunger for power. Not to go unmentioned are Gemma Jackson’s finely detailed production design and Annie Symons’ stylish costuming.

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