Share |
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
DIRECTOR: Guy Ritchie
SCREENWRITER: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Joby Harold
MUSIC BY: Daniel Pemberton
STUDIO: Warner Bros. Pictures
RELEASE DATE: May 12, 2017
MPAA RATING: PG-13
Ritchie's Arthurian Mess

Written by Chris Pandolfi

There are cases where directors show how multifaceted they are by stepping outside their comfort zones, not only in terms of the stories they choose to tell but also in terms of how they go about telling them. Think of Wes Craven with Music of the Heart, or Jerry Zucker with Ghost, or Ridley Scott, whose Alien is no more like The Duellists than American Gangster is like A Good Year. And then there are cases where directorsí trademarks are so indelibly ingrained in their very being that, when applied to a genre theyíre not known for, it results in unmitigated disaster. Robert Altmanís adaptation of Popeye immediately comes to mind, as does David Lynchís Dune.

We can now add King Arthur: Legend of the Sword to the list. Directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie, itís an absolute mess Ė an unfocused, unstructured film that puts Arthurian legend in a multidirectional tug-of-war between a Tolkien-esque fantasy, a Game of Thrones-like political drama, a stunt spectacular, and the Ritchie crime comedy of your choice. With the latter, Ritchie tends to follow a formula: Multiple and convoluted storylines; a large cast of characters with very esoteric names; droll dialogue of almost poetic fluidity; fast-paced, nonlinear editing. In the case of several of his previous films Ė Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, RocknRolla, and even the underrated The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Ė this formula works well.

But itís all wrong for King Arthur. It doesnít have that pleasingly stylized anachronistic feel, as Iím sure was the intention. It comes off as exactly what it is: Contemporary dialogue awkwardly and inappropriately applied to a medieval period story. There are similar issues with his editing style, which not only makes portions of the film as visually hyperactive as a music video but also needlessly complicates the plot. Several scenes are structured to intercut unexplainable shots with the very exposition necessary to explain them, making them hopelessly confusing. At times, I felt like I was watching the cinematic equivalent of stream of consciousness writing.

If youíre at all familiar with my reviews, you know Iím not a stickler for literary purity or historical accuracy, so long as the end product is competent and entertaining. Because Iím well aware that many moviegoers donít agree with this viewpoint, Iím compelled to point out that King Arthur doesnít much concern itself with the established legend of King Arthur. The title character, played by a freakishly buff Charlie Hunnam, is reimagined as a young streetwise hoodlum unaware of his royal heritage until pulling the sword Excalibur out from the stone. He and his gang then go about plotting revenge against his uncle Vortigern (Jude Law), who, with the help of some black magic, murdered Arthurís parents and usurped the throne.

Most of the Arthurian female characters Ė Guinevere, Morgan Le Fay, the Lady Igraine Ė are either relegated to unnecessary side characters or altogether omitted, and although the name Merlin is mentioned, heís never once seen. For the purposes of this story, virtually all acts of magic are performed by The Mage, a young woman whose bidding is performed by animals, including a falcon and a snake, the latter eventually morphed into a gigantic monstrosity that would give ophidiophobics like myself nightmares. The Mage is played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey so robotically and with such little regard for the thickness of her French accent, itís as if she learned her English lines phonetically and only on the days she delivered them.

Like most fantasy/action films nowadays, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has been released in 3D Ė which is, if Iím not mistaken, a first for Ritchie. It hasnít, however, been released in IMAX 3D, the only 3D process that consistently works; itís only in RealD 3D, which is to say that weíre presented with a picture thatís muddy during the bright scenes and practically invisible during the dark scenes. This coupled with specific scenes of frenetic activity result in a visual bombardment that may induce headaches. Not that youíd benefit from seeing the film in 2D. Apart from being one of Ritchieís biggest cinematic mistakes, itís also one of the worst films Iíve seen all year.


Share |




The Dangers of Playing God
Read More!
Ritchie's Arthurian Mess
Read More!
Another Slice of '80s-Style Cheese
Read More!
Knowing a Good Story When You Hear One
Read More!
An Ape at War
Read More!
The X-Man That Got an R
Read More!
The Horror of Race Relations
Read More!
Assembling Another Disappointment
Read More!
James Baldwin in His Own Words
Read More!
Please Tell Me This Isn't the Start of a Franchise
Read More!
Henson's Puzzling Coming-of-Age Story
Read More!
This Is Not a Muppet Movie
Read More!
The Tagline Is Absolutely Correct
Read More!
So Simple, It's Scary
Read More!
All Wrapped Up with No Place to Go
Read More!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again (2016)
Read More!
Why we should never judge a film, remake or otherwise, before actually seeing it
Read More!
San Diego's Biggest Convention as Seen Through the Eyes of The Massie Twins
Read More!
The reasoning behind my review of Act of Valor, supporting our troops, and the meaning of real patriotism
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi predicts the winners and shares his thoughts on the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Did your favorite make his list?
Read More!