King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review
Guy Richie is a director who I find to be quite hit and miss. I enjoyed Lock Stock, back when it first came out, I liked the two Sherlock films quite a bit, and really liked Man From U.N.C.L.E, but everything else has left me cold. That said, as anyone who’s read my books will know, I’m a big fan of the Arthurian story, and I figured it was worth a go.
The first thing is that this doesn’t really stick closely to any Arthurian story, which is fine. There’s no Merlin, although he is mentioned, no knights, and no Mordred apart from a brief moment. Again, that’s fine. If you’re going to tell a story, you might as well make it your own and put your own stamp on it. But if you’re going to this film to watch a re-telling of Arthur’s story in a close way to the original, you’ll be disappointed.
First of all the good stuff. It’s fun, it’s kinetic, there’s always stuff happening, and it’s entertaining. I had no problems at all with the silliness in this film, it’s not meant to be a serious drama about one man’s attempt to deal with a past he doesn’t want. It’s about Arthur hitting people. Lots of people, in fact. Sometimes with a sword, and sometimes with his fists, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then this film will probably fit the bill.
Some of the battle shots at the beginning are impressive, although that does lead into a negative of the simple fact that some of the green screen cgi stuff is bad. The film uses a lot of cgi toward the end of the film to show magic in use, and it just looks weird and badly done.
The actors do a decent enough job. Charlie Hunnam is pretty good as a street thug version of Arthur, and Djimon Hounsou played the sage, angry older male role model part well too. No one is going to be winning any oscars or anything, but they do the job.
It’s a shame there isn’t an oscar category for scenery chewing—which should really be the Rickman Award—because Jude Law would be a serious contender. He really should have grown a large moustache just so he could twirl it a few times. He was evil, but in that way where you’re not entirely sure how anyone as stupid as him managed to get into a position of power. I never took Jude as a threat, neither mentally or physically. He was just sort of there, but power-crazed sorcerer is as good an idea as any other, I just wish he’d been given something a bit more interesting to play with.
Aidan Gillen extends his use of frankly baffling accents with one that seems to change halfway through sentences. It’s a bit… off-putting. Other than that, he’s pretty good.
Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey is wonderful, and by far and away the best thing in the film. She plays The Mage. Yes, that’s her actual name, subtle this film is not. But she does a lot with a part that mostly asks her to just look creepy and weird.
A big problem I have with the film is the use of women. Women in this film fall into three categories. They are murdered, abused, or kidnapped. I can’t think of a single woman with actual dialog who doesn’t fall into one of those categories. In fact, one woman is kept around for the entire bloody film just so she can die. And you know she’s going to die from the second you see her. She has no personality, no reason to be, except that her death is useful, I don’t even know the name of the character.
The action also needs a mention. Sometimes it’s very good, and then they try to use slow-mo and blur effects and it looks like a really shit rave. Less CGI, more people actually doing stuff would be great. Also, no quick cuts of action scenes, they’re shit and actually hurt the film more than the mockney.
Oh, the mockney. I hated it. It was funny at first, but then after the hundredth time, I wanted to slap Guy Richie and ask him why he hates everyone so much. It didn’t help that not everyone did it, so it was really jarring when they did. But eventually, I just ended up ignoring it. It is a bit strange though.
Also David Beckham. Lovely guy, I’m sure, but don’t let him act again. Please.
This is a ridiculous film. It’s stupid, and over-the-top, and it’s full of stupid people doing stupid things. And kung-fu for some reason (although I really like Tom Wu and want to see more of him if there’s another film), and frankly if you think about any of it for too long it all starts to collapse.
Sat in that cinema, with all of it going on, I had a blast. Yes, it’s stupid. Yes, there should have been more women doing more than just getting killed, punched or kidnapped, yes the slow mo action stuff didn’t quite work, but despite all of that, I had fun.
If you can’t switch off, or you hate stupid films, films where giant unbelievable creatures do unbelievable things, you might not like this film. If you just want to go to the cinema to see a spectacle and have a few laughs. Then this is probably for you. Just don’t start pulling at the threads afterwards.