Monday, May 15, 2017

Movie Review: "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" (2017)

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Director: Guy Ritchie
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

Orphaned as a child and raised in a brothel, Arthur, son of King Uther Pendragon, learns his lessons in life on the streets of Londinium. This all changes one day when he removes his father's sword, Excalibur, from a stone, fulfilling a prophecy and anointing him to live out his destiny and retake his father's kingdom from his evil uncle Vortigern.

"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is directed by Guy Ritchie, who is known for his films "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," "Snatch," and most recently, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." It stars Charlie Hunnam as Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, king of Camelot, played by Eric Bana. Arthur is orphaned after his parents are murdered by his Uncle Vortigern, played by Jude Law. He is taken in by prostitutes and raised in a brothel. He grows up learning about life on the mean streets of Londinium and learns to fight from a man named Kung Fu George, played by Tom Wu. Being a Guy Ritchie movie, all of this information is learned through a montage. One thing leads to another and Arthur finds himself pulling Excalibur from its stone, setting him reluctantly down the path of his destiny to dethrone Vortigern. There to help him is the resistance, led by Bedivere, played by Djimon Hounsou, Goosefat Bill, played by Aidan Gillen, and The Mage, played by Astrid Berg├ęs-Frisbey.

Guy Ritchie's career took off with his comedic, cool, fast talking, mile a minute London gangster films. Here, he takes that style and applies it to the fantasy world of King Arthur. All of Ritchie's signature elements are present in this film. He turns the character of Arthur into what is essentially a small-time Londinium gangster who heads his own crew that strong arms bad people out of money, especially those who are violent towards the ladies working at the brothel where he was raised. Ritchie uses that same time jump editing style we have seen from him in the past, where the actions of an event play out on screen while a character gives exposition of that same event and how it will play out. This happens a couple of times throughout the movie, favoring the re-imagining of details  over the classic "King Arthur" tale.

BigJ and I differ in our opinions about "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword." Clearly, this is a very stylized version of the classic story where anything is possible. Giant elephants lay waste to castles and huge venomous snakes are controlled by mages in a display of grandiose effects to make use of an over-inflated budget. While I am absolutely fine with the fantasy of it all, a lot of the action feels dizzying, muddled, and poorly made. It's as if Ritchie remade "Warcraft" and added the characters from King Arthur. BigJ believes the action elements to be quite the spectacle. The final showdown looks like Arthur facing off against Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat. And you know what ultimate face-offs don't need? A spinning camera clearly made for a 3D-viewing audience. We both agree that the story, dialogue, and acting aren't the best. Some of the conversations are laugh out loud bad, and some will just make you laugh. Hunnam's slower speech cadence doesn't always feel right when acting Ritchie's snappy, fast paced dialogue in the various aforementioned cut scenes. And the story? Sometimes characters and situations brought up that aren't necessary and are never spoke of again. It's mostly a mess, though BigJ thinks it's a fun mess nonetheless.

In the end, "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" gives us one of our most polarizing reviews to date. On the one hand, for me, it's a sloppily made, lazily animated, bloated and unnecessary film (seriously, who asked for a King Arthur movie in 2017?), and on the other hand, for BigJ, it's a decent enough action flick that will most likely keep the audience mostly entertained as long as you're not looking for something with much depth.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 27%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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