When it comes to Arthurian Legends, the tales are either well-known or the name King Arthur rings a few bells. The last King Arthur film released in theaters was Antoine Fuqua‘s 2004’s King Arthur, which was made to be a more historically accurate film. Guy Ritchie, who is mostly known for his Sherlock Holmes films & the cult-favorite Snatch, tied down his King Arthur: Legend of the Sword film into the mystical realm of Arthurian legend but stepped away from what made those stories great.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword follows a young & rebellious Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), who is being hunted down by his power hungry uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) who wants to rid his land of the heir of Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) Arthur’s father. So yes, this is a revenge story that suffers from too much familiarity & an odd departure from the core of this Arthurian legend.
The acting from Hunnam was a step down from his Sons of Anarchy days. This isn’t to say that his acting was bad, but I will say that there wasn’t much to it. As for Law, it pretty much seemed as though he phonedefinitely it in. Not only was his character’set motives indecisive & without much purpose, but there was nothing sinister or unique about his character. Sure, he did kill two people that were close to him in the same way, which goes to show the writers’ laziness, but there was nothing more to him outside of those scenes. & Law & Hunnam’s final battle felt & looked like a boss battle from the God of War game. To be honest, it was quite terrible to watch. Arthur was also able to use this mystical power of Excalibur that made him move at somewhat blinding speed, but it also made it look to much like a power-up in a video game & took you out of the realistic picture that was painted before these disastrous scenes.
Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) & Goosfat Bill Gillen (Aidan Gillen) were honestly forgettable, which is a surprise since Gillen is still riding high off of Game of Thrones & Hounsou is another big name in the film. I mean, Gillen’s character wasn’t a knight or even a character in any part of Arthurian legend.
Besides the dry story, the film suffered from three major things: Merlin was only present in a shadowy flashback, Guinevere (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) was a mage & Mordred, who is a very important villain in Arthurian legend was killed off-screen by Uther. Watching Bergès-Frisbey on-screen was like Watchung a Kristen Stewart in Twilight — dreadful. Guinevere was always brooding & had you missed her name, you wouldn’t have guessed she was playing such a well-known character, especially since they mainly referred to her as “the girl” or “the mage”.
All-in-all King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a heavy departure from what most might be familiar with. The video game action scenes, bad acting, lazy storytelling & forgettable characters make this a film that can most certainly fly under the radar this weekend.