King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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Lock, stock and smoking sword
By Ben Nietzel
After barely escaping death and being raised on the streets, Arthur must reclaim his legacy and Excalibur in order to free his kingdom and restore peace.

Pro – great action and visuals

The opening scene of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword might be the best fantasy battle scene since The Lord of the Rings. It’s really cool, really well shot, and full of action. This is par for the course for Guy Richie in general, and King Arthur in particular. From the battlefield to the mountainside palace, and in the gritty streets of Londinium, King Arthur looks and feels great. The gritty greys of the movie do occasionally make some character differentiation (especially amongst the bad guys) a bit tough, but it lends a great look and feel. The action is fast and furious, and uses a nice blend of slow-downs and speed-ups to create cool visuals.

Con – confusing and long

The bones of the story are fine, if pretty standard fare. Nothing ground-breaking or original, but perfectly serviceable for an action film. Even with that concession, the story just kind of falls down at times. There are lots of times where the characters’ motivations for certain actions aren’t explained and don’t make any sense in the context of the character or plot. Even more problematic is the run time. At two hours and twenty minutes, King Arthur is just too long for what it’s giving the audience.  The longer a film becomes, the more a poor plot is exposed, and such is the case here. Thirty minutes of trimming would have gone a long way to help this film.

Neutral – Guy Richie in Camelot

Here is the real crux of this film. This film is very much a Guy Richie film, with all that implies. It has smart street hoods, punchy, sarcastic dialogue, and crazy cuts. If you enjoy Richie’s movies like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, I think you will enjoy this film. If you don’t like those movies, or if you are looking for pure fantasy Arthurian legend, this is not the film for you.

For my part, I love Snatch, enjoyed Lock, Stock, and generally enjoy English culture.  Those parts of the film, although jarring in a Arthurian movie, ultimately increased my enjoyment. To me then, that is what this film comes down to. This movie is Guy Richie unabashedly doing a “Guy Richie movie” in the King Arthur universe.  Depending on how that sounds to you, you should have your answer on whether this film would make an enjoyable trip to the movies for you or not.

King Arthur looks great but drags in the middle, but ultimately comes down to how comfortable you are with this unique take on classic lore.