Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law, Eric Bana
Run Time: 126 mins
‘King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword’ is the new Guy Ritchie film and is the proposed first film in a six film series. That’s certainly an ambitious end goal for a single film! I have been a big fan of Guy Ritchie in the past, particularly for his ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films which both are pretty much perfect. I wasn’t a fan of ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E’ and his other films have been hit-and-miss but when Ritchie is on form, he is excellent. ‘King Arthur’ has had quite a turbulent time even making it to a cinema with multiple delays and reshoots. The marketing for this film has also not been impressive in the slightest – in my opinion, the film looks woeful from its trailers. But Guy Ritchie, coupled with a strong cast is what has kept my interest invested and I was hoping that the film would be better than trailers had suggested. Coupled with the poor reviews, things didn’t look too good.
‘King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword’ is surprisingly enjoyable and well-directed and particularly for its first half, extremely entertaining and innovative. However, it does get increasingly conventional in its second half and loses steam in the ending where it feels too much like a computer game. That said, I was never bored by it and admired what Ritchie was trying to do – pretty much a tongue-in-cheek gangster flick in the vein of ‘Snatch’ in Arthurian times. There are many standout sequences in the film and I particularly enjoyed the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ style slow-motion sequences with characters determining how they are going to win a fight. Daniel Pemberton’s score is simply superb and John Mathieson’s cinematography is also impressive.
The performances from the cast all-round are generally sound and it’s easy to see that they’re all having fun being in the film. Charlie Hunnam is great as the titular character and is very tongue-in-cheek and manages to inhabit the quasi-gangster treatment of this iconic character. Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen are also strong here and provide a lot of comic relief and Jude Law, although not given all that much development, clearly looks like he’s having fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast aren’t given all that much to do, particularly Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, who is highly billed in the cast as the Mage who helps Arthur but fails to make a big enough impression.
The story is ok – it’s a fairly linear set out but it’s what Guy Ritchie does with the material which is impressive. As mentioned, I loved the intercutting sequences where Ritchie edits together a couple of different scenes together to bestow a sense of perspective. The film does begin to drag towards its end and becomes increasingly more derivative and conventional but there are still a few sequences peppered throughout that second half that are still great fun.
Daniel Pemberton’s score is outstanding and one of the best of the year so far. It is the glue that holds this film together and it is very innovative and memorable. I have been very critical of him in the past but ‘Steve Jobs‘ was a step in the right direction and this is his career best thus far. Fresh off from ‘Logan’, John Mathieson’s cinematography is also great here and there are a couple of awe-inspiring shots that really looked great on the big screen.
Overall, I can understand why ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ has recieved the reception it has but this wasn’t the experience that I had. I found it to be highly entertaining, creatively directed by Guy Ritchie and everyone seems to be having a fun time doing this role. No, it doesn’t particularly have much substance storywise but this is a big, brash, boisterous behemoth that wears its pride on its sleeve. It’s far better than a lot of the other Summer blockbusters so far and I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s actually good as I was initially very trepidatious of the quality of the film. I’d be very happy to watch five more but I highly doubt that will happen!