Director Guy Ritchie brings his stylish, British gangster film swagger to the new movie, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, making the legendary leader even more of a medieval superhero and giving Excalibur an epic extra twist.
This latest rendition of the classic “Knights of the Round Table” story is slightly convoluted, with several loose threads and unnecessary characters, but what it lacks in storytelling cohesiveness it more than makes up for in style and special effects.
The film opens with one of the coolest fantasy battle sequences I’ve ever seen on film, with enormous, mage-driven, battle-elephants laying waste to the castle of Camelot. Wow! I realized right then and there that we need more giant elephants in movies. So cool!
Little Arthur’s parents, King Uther and Queen Igraine (Eric Bana and Poppy Delevingne), are betrayed and killed early on by the (secret) mage sorcerer, Vortigern (Jude Law); and their son, poor, little, orphaned Arthur, is raised in a brothel.
But, because of his superior, royal genes, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) excels in his life, despite its hardships, and he grows to be quite the “bad hombre” – so to speak. The hero’s transition from poor, young boy to badass adult is told in an inventive, Guy Ritchie styled, musical montage.
In order to flush out the rightful heir to the throne, Vortigern orders all male citizens of Arthur’s would-be age to try withdrawing the legendary sword from the stone. When our hero reluctantly succeeds, a journey of magic and revenge ensues – a la Game of Thrones meets Snatch.
King Arthur also stars Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as the animal-controlling mage, sent by Merlin (who we never see – that I know of) to guide Arthur towards his destiny; Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen as friends and future Knights of the Round Table; and Annabelle Wallis as, well, who knows who she is… one of the films very weird missteps.
The movie has a great modern soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton and engaging cinematography by John Mathieson. The special effects, especially of the aforementioned elephants, as well as some slimy sirens and forest nymphs, are first rate (if slight muddy looking in the overall scheme of things.)
I did not have high expectations for this movie, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It quite nicely sets up a sequel and I am absolutely looking forward to the next one in what has potential to be a very fun series. Grade: 7.5/10
Photos © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.