By Ryan Keating-Lambert
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, despite its sometimes overwhelming CGI mess, is a very entertaining and exciting action / adventure romp. It’s no surprise that director Guy Richie (Sherlock Holmes) has gone for modern gangster approach, and it works well for the old legend.
Robbed of his royal birthright, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is sent to Londinium where he grows up in a gang of thieves, until he pulls the powerful sword of Excalibur from the stone and discovers he is heir to Camelot. In order to save the country from the clutches of his evil Uncle Vortigern (Jude Law), he hatches a plan to take back the throne with the help of his back-alley gang and a powerful mage.
There are so many different versions of this story and the fact that no one really knows what’s true and what’s not means that the possible adaptations are endless, and Richie has used his trademark British geezer humour here. King Arthur is teeming with British banter and quit wit. The same kind of dialogue that made Lock Stock and Snatch great, makes a similar impact here. The overall plot can be confusing at times, but it’s straight forward enough for your standard action / adventure movie.
Hunnam’s Arthur is an arrogant but respectable ruffian, and on the whole pretty lovable (What did you say Charlie? I was lost in your eyes). Ritchie regular Jude Law plays bad guy Vortigern with ease – no surprises there as he’s good at pulling off a little malice. Eric Bana, who seems to have disappeared from the screen lately, also makes an appearance as Arthur’s father King Uther.
A few have pointed the finger at this film for having a lack of female characters. Although I can’t seem to remember that many female characters in the original story. They are the ‘Knights of the Round Table’ after all. However, the mage character played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey is a fascinating enigma. She was brilliant, but I wish they gave her a little more screen time. The Lady of the Lake also makes a brief appearance in probably the most beautiful scene in the film, combined with Daniel Pemberton’s superb score (wow), it’s a real standout moment.
The only real problem with this film is the action. There’s a wonderfully unconventional opening sequence, which shows an aerial view of the epic battle rather than the usual shaky camera close-ups in your standard Marvel film. However, every time Arthur gets out his sword it quickly becomes overwhelming. The sword scenes are, for lack of a better description, CGI shit-storms. Too fast, too much.
But Arthur is still very much worth a watch. It’s refreshing to see a modern adaptation of an old faithful, and Ritchie was the man to do it. It’s very inventive and worthy of a sequel. There’s also a bit of goofy humour, which is lacking from action films these days.
Photo: Screen Rant