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. He is completely unaware of who his parents were, but is haunted by regular nightmares of their deaths from when he was a young boy. Arthur's Uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) was jealous of his brothers role as King, so organized an 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, however, the water outside the castle lowered significantly, which revealed Excalibur stuck in stone. The sword was a powerful, magic sword that belonged to Arthur's father, and Vortigern quickly becomes obsessed with the implications of the sword revealing itself. He believes that the magical revelation means that the true King's heir will soon overthrow him, so he begins a manhunt to round up every man (of about the age that the heir would be) from nearby cities in a hunt to find his long lost nephew. Arthur reluctantly finds himself in this group, but watched as countless men tried and failed to pull the sword from the stone. He has no assumption that he may be the heir to the throne, so he 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 a surprisingly huge element of this story and it worked really well. Now I obviously expected some magic, considering this was a movie about the sword in the stone, but the level of magic incorporated in this movie was still surprising. Characters controlled massive animals, summoned evil creatures, created fireballs, and various other things, all in addition to Arthur harnessing the power of the magical sword. This movie had plenty of action, and a lot of it involved some amount of action, yet it still felt like the filmmakers only scratched the surface of the magic that existed in this world. Magic was not the focus of this story, but it was used effectively to make this story a lot more interesting than it would have been with less magic. There was a lot of action in this movie, but the different action sequences revolved around different magical things, which made each action sequence unique.
Con: Fainting (-5pts)
While I did not think this hurt the overall story significantly, this was probably the most annoying part of the movie. Most of this movie took place after Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, and given the tremendous power in this version of Excalibur, it made sense to have the sword be too overwhelming for Arthur initially. This movie was a character story about how a man evolved from a street thug to a king, which I liked, so I get that they did not want Arthur to be too powerful too early on, because is evolution would have felt too easy. My problem was with the movie's solution to this issue, the writers just had Arthur faint the first few times he touched the sword. There was plenty of Excalibur action in this movie, but the fainting felt redundant very quickly, and each time it felt like the story lost some of its momentum.
Pro: Action & Pacing (+8pts)
As I briefly mentioned earlier, there was a lot of action in this movie. From beginning to end, there was plenty of action to satisfy anyone hoping for a action-filled blockbuster. There was archery, epic medieval battles, intense foot chases, warlock's, and obviously King Arthur wielding the legendary Excalibur in an epic fantasy fashion. What took this movie a step further, in my opinion, was Guy Ritchie's flavor and the 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 sequences fun to watch. Between Guy Ritchie's style and tons of action, this was a fun, well-paced, action filled fantasy movie.
Con: Vortigern (-8pts)
Vortigern (Jude Law) was a poorly written character in this movie. He possessed magic which was cool and all, but he hardly ever used it. The climax of the story between Arthur and Vortigern felt a bit anti-climactic. I do not want to spoil how, but it was the manner in which Vortigern went up against Arthur, as it just felt like a generic video-game boss battle, rather than a climactic showdown of two characters. I also did not understand Vortigern's motivations for overthrowing his brother. I understood that he was jealous, but he went to pretty extreme measures, which made that part of the story feel underdeveloped and 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. He he through quite the story arc and quite the transformation. He was tormented by the horrors from his childhood and was tortured by the people around him who 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 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 powerful, and she was mysterious. Much like the rest of the magic that was introduced in this movie, I felt like the filmmakers only scratched the surface with what this character was capable of, but do not assume that means this character did not showcase a lot of powerful magic in this movie. While I enjoyed Arthur and the mage individually, I also really enjoyed their dynamic together. Arthur had a conceited personality, but the mage quickly put him in his place. It was never spoken of, but I could tell that these two characters had a growing respect for one another, which was something that I enjoyed watching unfold.
Con: The Syrens (-2pts)
Oh, this part was weird. The syrens were these weird, tentacle creatures that lived in the water underneath the castle and granted power to those who made blood sacrifices in their waters. Characters visited these syrens a few times throughout the movie, and I thought they were a weird and unnecessary part of this story. I do not want to say much more about them, but every time they were on screen I wondered why we were spending so much screen-time on these characters, when they could have just had the characters visiting them be powerful in the first place and could have skipped the syrens all together.
Grade: B+ (86pts)
I liked this movie quite a bit. It had tons of action, tons of magic, and plenty of Guy Ritchie's flavor. I thought the main villain, Vortigern (Jude Law), was pretty underdeveloped, but there were plenty of other characters to fill that void. The filmmakers balanced strong character development for Arthur with awesome action and crazy magic. That was a mix that I thought worked well, and during the actionless points in the story, Guy Ritchie's Flavor regarding Arthur and his gang kept me interested until the next action sequence. They filmmakers also introduced cool animals and a mysterious, badass mage that had an entertaining and interesting dynamic with Arthur. This movie had its problems, sure, but I thought its strengths outweighed its weaknesses, and thought it was a pretty entertaining movie.