King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review

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Where is Merlin??

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is director Guy Ritchie’s quirky take on the on the medieval legend of the British leader who defended Britain against Saxon invaders in the early centuries of AD.  I’ll admit that, even though I think the tale of King Arthur is utterly fascinating, my knowledge of the it is limited to surface level stuff like the Sword in the Stone, the Knights of the Round Table, and Merlin the Wizard. Beyond that, I don’t know much else about it.  I appreciate in theory the concept of a feature length film about King Arthur that is done better than the weak attempt we got in 2004.  It’s just that the trailers for this film really didn’t much for me and I figured that it was once again, a wasted premise.

The Legend of the Sword really came out of nowhere to surprise me.  I’ll spare you the specific plot details. We all know that a King Arthur story is mainly about an orphan, the rightful heir to the throne of Britain, that is the only one that can pull the magical sword of Excalibur from the stone it’s embedded in.  King Arthur goes on to save Britain from various forces. He forms the Knights of the Round Table. There is also Merlin the Wizard doing his sorcery thing.  This is more or less what this film entails but with tons of action and classic Guy Ritchie style.

Guy Ritchie is mostly known for his crime films that have unique dialogue. That is clearly evident here.  The conversations here are less regal than you would think is typical of this time and presented as more gangster.    This is enjoyable along with the way Ritchie edits conversations, looping past and present parts of a story together through purposeful jump cuts.   What is conflicting here, is his use of sped up montages to quickly exhibit certain periods of time such as King Arthur’s childhood.  This is nice to see from a visual standpoint, but part of me wishes they spent a little more time showing these moments to us.

The action was also very cool.  The moments where King Arthur uses the Excalibur sword are amazing visual moments.  It’s super powered mode. The use of magic and mysticism is also not cliché’ here like it might be in other movies.   Speaking of magic, The Mage was a fascinating character who I wish got to do a little more.  But where is Merlin? We only get a brief glimpse at the iconic wizard in this film. One last note about the action…while it’s great, parts of the end do come off as a video game boss battle.

This is a beautifully shot film.  The cinematography is technically sound. Complementing this element are the nice performances we get here.  Jude Law is just the right amount of hammed up evil. He is conflicted in what he needs to do to attain power but he still has the determination to do it.  Charlie Hunman is fine as the main protagonist as he comes off as easy to root for.  Supporting performances by Astrid Berges Frisby as the Mage and Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere are interesting as I felt myself wanting to know more about these characters.

This may be the under the radar hit of the summer so far actually.    Guy Ritchie’s plans for this to be a franchise is something I’m interested in and hoping we get despite the lukewarm reception so far.  While Guardians of the Galaxy may be the movie that everyone is aware of, maybe they should go check this one out as it’s just as entertaining if not more so.

Grade : B

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