King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, directed by Guy Ritchie, is yet another lackluster fantasy film that, like 2004’s ‘King Arthur,’ will be forgotten almost overnight.
What? You mean you don’t remember ‘King Arthur,’ staring Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, and Mads Mikkelsen? Exactly.
There are traces of an enjoyable movie buried in ‘Legend of the Sword.’ The multicultural, anachronistic aesthetic—while probably off-putting to #BoycottStarWarsVII types—brought something new, something genuinely fun and inventive to a timeless story. Costume design was a big plus. Were the Jason Voorhees’ hockey mask-inspired henchmen helmets a little over the top? Sure, but that’s the amusing kind of schlock you want out of your big budget action flicks. And man does Charlie Hunnam rock that leather jacket from the poster. He’s a good King Arthur too. Also notable is Djimon Hounsou’s performance as Bedivere, though we don’t get enough of him. Jude Law, short of growing a beard, tries his best.
The film also introduces some fantastical elements that, even if they were poached from better works, make for some interesting scenes. The problem is that they’re all glossed over. At one point in the movie, King Hunnam travels to an underworldish type realm to fight giant creatures, which make for far more interesting adversaries than nameless goons. The movie, however, doesn’t think so, and the scene lasts about the time it takes for you to buy your ticket and regret your life choices. And the ‘Game of Thrones’ cameos—they don’t invite comparison nearly as well as intended.
But let’s get to the real problems. As ‘Legend of the Sword’ progresses, you become increasing aware that the action looks like a videogame cutscene. This culminates in a quote-on-quote climactic action sequence that’s essentially a disappointing final boss battle, and the final boss looks comically bad.
Now the plot—it’s just needlessly mangled, and while the supporting cast is entertaining enough, there is one exception. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey’s The Mage, a character so boring they literally didn’t bother to give her a real name, exists only to deliver exposition and provide the deus ex machina. I would, however, watch a whole expanded cinematic universe of Mage films before I listen to the ‘Legend of the Sword’ soundtrack again.
‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ employs a number of interesting fantasy and storytelling elements that it can’t seem to string into cohesion despite a talented cast and crew. The film, for me, ultimately falls flat.
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