King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
by Hope Madden
Right, Guy Ritchie’s medieval-ish sorcery fable King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is bad.
But how bad is it?
Or more to the point, how Guy Ritchie is it?
The filmmaker mixes his trademark hypothetical-scenarios, quick-cut montages and period anachronisms with video game quality CGI, and it’s hard to decide which approach is more ill-suited to the material.
Or is the bigger issue the fact that this story – among the oldest, simplest, most re-told in the history of the English language – is befuddled beyond recognition once Ritchie and his team of co-writers have their way with it?
The film opens appealingly enough: King Uther (Eric Bana) hands his crown to his brother Vortigern (Jude Law) to hold while he single-swordedly defeats the villainous wizard Mordred – who controls super colossal elephant beasts with his mind!
This makes Jude Law’s nose bleed, so we know something’s up. Next thing you know, there are hungry sea-serpent siren things, Uther’s attacked, and little bitty Arthur finds himself floating Moses-like toward Londinium and the waiting arms of some golden-hearted prostitutes.
Flash forward through the first of several watch-him-become-a-man montages and Charlie Hunnam appears. Street savvy, tough, flippant and boasting what can only be the work of the most stylish barber in all of Londinium, he runs afoul of the king and accidentally pulls Excalibur from its stone. He’d just as soon put it back.
He’s reluctant! He doesn’t want all this! He’s just a regular guy – who looks like super-cut Charlie Hunnam and says things like “ya big, silly, posh bastard.”
And if you think he seems out of place in about-to-be-Arthurian England, check out Jude Law and his leather blazer and matching skinny jeans.
But what did you expect – that he wouldn’t Guy Ritchie this thing? It’s Game of Thrones meets Sherlock Holmes (the Ritchie version). And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
The Arthurian legend can be a stiff slog, and a little shot of style could enliven things. Unfortunately, Ritchie buries every stylistic choice he makes under charmless and pace-deadening CGI.
It would take more than magic to save this thing.