King Arthur – The Legend of the Sword brings a modern twist to the historical tales of Arthur King of the Britons. Arthur is a central figure of Medieval British history, cropping up in countless medieval literary sources. Even though his name carries such historical significance, most historians choose to dispute his existence. With stories soaked in tales of magic, wizards, dragons and the Holy Grail. It is easy to see why the Legend and myth have carried through the centuries.
Now, there have been countless screen creations depicting the story of Arthur and the knights of the round table. It is fair to say that some have been terrible but some have been very good and true to the story. A good example of this is John Boorman's film Excalibur released in 1981. Fortunately, King Arthur – The Legend of the Sword manages to provide a modern twist to the story whilst staying on track to the widely accepted story.
Surprisingly the reception of this film was bad, to say the least. Critics took great pleasure in destroying this film. With some even advising moviegoers to avoid it at all costs. But this big-budget epic, produced, written and directed by Guy Ritchie somehow became a victim of its own creation. Warner Brothers invested heavily in this project, that was intended to be a six-film franchise. The result was a massive loss at the box office and Warner Bros canceled the project.
However, don't let this put you off. If you are a fan of Guy Ritchie movies, then you will be very familiar with his signature style. Each of his films uses the camera in a unique way. We see this perfectly in the fighting scenes in Sherlock Holmes or Snatch and this is no different. Another stamp of Richie films are the strong geezer type characters. Which, to be fair is somewhat off-putting at first in a medieval magical storyline. But it does actually work, even if it is a bit Lock Stock in Londinium. The bottom line is Richie, throws everything at this – amazing effects, incredible camera work and all wrapped up in his usual character-driven British humor. Which clearly the American critics did not understand.
But the good bits don't stop there, the cast does a great job too. That's not to say there are not some poor choices in my opinion. But the good far outweighs the bad. It's clear that Richie was looking to ride on the success of Game of Thrones, but casting actors from the show really took the biscuit. However, Aiden Gillen and Michael McElhatton, both from Game of Thrones were great in this film. Eric Bana was brilliant as Uther (Arthurs Dad), just wish he was in it more. Jude Law is fantastic as the evil but tragic Vortigern. And a real surprise standout was Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, playing the Mage. But wait, I am sorry to say the casting of David Beckham was an epic mistake. Also, for me, Charlie Hunnam just did not have the presence or conviction to carry off the lead role.
King Arthur – The Legend of the Sword Game
I have to say, that if you go into this film expecting the romance of the traditional Arthurian story. You are not going to get it, there is no Guenivierre, no Lancelot and no Holy Grail. Maybe these were meant to be introduced in the following films that were abruptly axed.
However, what you do get is a brilliantly entertaining film that has quick-fire British banter woven through each and every scene. It really is like throwing Snatch, Lock Stock, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and Excalibur into the magic movie blender and all served up on the streets of Londinium. Let me tell you if you understand British Humor and you like a great mythical adventure story then the chances are you will really enjoy King Arthur – The Legend of the Sword. I certainly did, even if David Beckham is terrible in it.