Movie Review: "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword"
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raised in a brothel in a rough neighborhood down the river from Camelot, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) has grown into a tough and motivated street thug who is unaware of who his parents were but is haunted by regular nightmares of their deaths when he was a young boy. Arthur's Uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) was jealous of his brothers role as King so organized the uprising that led to the deaths of Arthur's parents. Since then, Vortigern has taken over as King and has used fear and terror to govern the people of Camelot. One day, the water outside the castle lowered significantly which revealed Excalibur (a powerful magic sword that belonged to Arthur's father). Vortigern is quickly obsessed with the implications of the sword revealibg itself, so he begins a manhunt to round up every man in the nearby cities to find his nephew. Arthur reluctantly finds himself in this group, but is shocked and overwhelmed when the sword responds to his touch. From that moment, Arthur's journey begins and his life will never be the same.
The Pros and Cons
Action & Pacing (+8pts)
Arthur & The Mage (+10pts)
Pro: Magic (+8pts)
Magic was, surprisingly, a huge element of this story and it worked really well. From controlling massive animals, summoning evil creatures, creating fireballs and harnessing the power of a magical sword; this movie is packed with action and I feel like we have only scratched the surface of the magic that exists in this world. Magic is not the focus of this movie but it is used effectively to complement the rest of the story and keep the audience interested. There is a lot of action in this movie but the variety of magic helps keep the action feeling fresh.
Con: Fainting (-5pts)
While I do not think this hurt the overall story significantly, this was probably the most annoying part of the movie. Most of this movie takes place after Arthur pulls sword from stone and, given the tremendous power in this version of Excalibur, it makes sense to have the sword be too overwhelming for Arthur. This movie is a character story about how a man evolves from street thug to king which I liked, so I get that they did not want Arthur being too powerful early on. My problem is with the movie's solution to this issue, the writers just had Arthur faint the first few times he touches the sword. There is plenty of Excalibur action in this movie but the fainti felt redundant very quickly.
Pro: Action & Pacing (+8pts)
As I briefly mentioned in the "Pro - Magic", there is a lot of action in this movie. From beginning to end, there is PLENTY of action to satisfy anyone hoping for a action-filled blockbuster. What takes this movie a step further, in my opinion, is Guy Ritchie's flavor and the great character development given to Arthur. Guy Ritchie and his unique flavor brought a lot of fast-paced, comedic banter that made the scenes, between the action, fun to watch. Between Guy Ritchie's style and tons of action, this movie is a fun movie to help kickoff this summer blockbuster season.
Con: Vortigern (-8pts)
Vortigern (Jude Law) was a poorly written character in this movie. He possesses magic which was a cool element but he never uses it. The climax of the storyline between Arthur and Vortigern felt a bit anti-climactic. I do not want to spoil why, but it was the manner at which Vortigern went up against Arthur. I also did not get his motivations for overthrowing his brother. I get that he was jealous but he went to pretty extreme measures for power and that part of the story was pretty underdeveloped which made me less invested in any scene in which Vortigern was on screen. I will say that Jude Law gave a great performance, as he always does, but he was not enough to get me to look past this underdeveloped character.
Pro: Arthur & The Mage (+10pts)
The character development for Arthur was entertaining to watch. The character goes through quite the story arc and quite the transformation. This character is tormented by the horrors from his childhood and is tortured by the people around him that have found themselves in harms way because of his new fame. I really enjoyed this approach to this character and I thought Charlie Hunnam did a great job of bringing that to the big screen. I also really enjoyed The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) who was sent by Merlin to be Arthur's guardian. This character was cool, she was interesting and she was mysterious. This movie does a great job at introducing this character while keeping her mysterious. I look forward to potentially seeing sequels to this movie and one of the biggest reasons for this would be for me to learn more about this character. While I enjoyed Arthur and The Mage individually, I also really enjoyed their dynamic together. Arthur has a conceited banter but The Mage quickly puts him in his place. It is never spoken of but you can tell that these two characters have a growing respect for one another which I enjoyed watching unfold.
Con: The Syrens (-2pts)
Oh boy, this part weird. The syrens are these weird tentacle creatures that live in the water underneath the castle and grant power to those who make blood sacrifices in their waters. The movie visits these sheens a few times throughout the movie. They are weird and unnecessary for the overall plot of the film. I do not want to say much more about them but every time they were on screen I thought, to myself, "Oh not again".
Grade: B+ (86pts)
I liked this movie quite a bit. It has tons of action, tons of magic and plenty of Guy Ritchie flavor. I thought the main villain, Vortigern (Jude Law), was pretty weak but there were plenty of other characters to fill that void. This movie balances strong character development for Arthur, with awesome action and crazy magic. This is a mix that works well and during the actionless points in the story, Guy Ritchie's Flavor mixes well with Arthur and his gang to get the audience through until the next action sequences. The movie also introduces cool animals and a mysterious, yet badass, Mage that has good on-screen chemistry with Arthur. This movie has a few problems but I thought the Pros definitely outweighed the Cons.