There is a scene in this film where King Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is rapidly retelling a soldier the story of his scuffle with a Viking. The soldier becomes confused and repeatedly asks for clarification. It is hardly relevant to overall plot, but ends up being a great scene in that it is a microcosm for the entire film: A scatter brained, poorly paced retelling of a story we don’t really need to know.
This reimagining of King Arthur, directed by Guy Ritchie, involves a war with wizards (referred to as Mages) that eventually leads to Arthur’s uncle Vortigem (Jude Law) uniting with dark magic to overthrow the King (Eric Bana) and take over the kingdom of Camelot. Before he dies, the true king preserves his magical sword, Excalibur, and helps his young son escape. Decades later, tests to find the true heir to the thrown leads to Arthur reclaiming the sword. Along with a young mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and his father’s old allies (Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen), a reluctant Arthur is forced to embrace his destiny and overthrow his uncle.
Conceptually, there are several elements within King Arthur: Legend of the Sword that can make you understand the attempt. The inclusion of magic and mythology is intriguing and both Hunnam and Jude Law do their best to elevate their characters from cliché caricatures with emotion and charisma. But the overall product just ends up being a convoluted and often boring mess.
Much of the blame has to go to Guy Ritchie (The Man from UNCLE, Sherlock Holmes) whose overindulgent cinematography is stuffed with hokey CGI fight sequences, dizzying camera angles, excessive slow motion effects, and awkward pacing. The rest of the blame goes to the script itself, which fails to find a central arc and instead crams far too much information and lure into a film that is moving too fast for its audience to grasp it all. Important elements are given montages that turn what might’ve been intriguing character building moments into rapid footnotes that could’ve been left on the cutting room floor if they weren’t going to be expanded upon.
There are also far too many characters to learn and become attached to, many of which serve the same purpose. While some, such as Aiden Gillen’s Goosefat Bill and Berges-Frisbey’s mage have wit and charm, the vast majority are immediately forgettable and just take up valuable screen time that could’ve been spent elsewhere. Thus, despite having an interesting foundation, an attempt to be a unique take on a classic story ends up making King Arthur: Legend of the Sword one of the most disorienting films in recent memory.
FINAL GRADE: D
MOORE REVIEWS Grading Scale:
A = Must See/Top 10 Nominee
B = Good film. Flawed, but still very entertaining
C = Not Bad, but highly flawed/Probably better off waiting for Redbox
D = Terrible Movie with a few redeeming qualities
F = I wanted to walk out/Don’t waste time or money