Guy Ritchie’s take on the Arthurian legend is one of the most ridiculous films you’ll see all year. In giving the ancient tale his Sherlock Holmes treatment, Ritchie makes frequent use of expositional montages, so much witty banter it might as well be on Dave and more ridiculous names than Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels combined.
Ritchie seemingly cast this masterpiece by randomly selecting Game Of Thrones actors and throwing in Sons Of Anarchy star, Charlie Hunnam. as Arthur himself. His performance is charming, but can be grating as his character is inexplicably rude to characters who save his life. He is the epitome of Guy Ritchie’s ‘geezer’ type and his charm does provide some of the funnier moments in the film. Jude Law’s performance as King Vortigern is odd and over-the-top – his stereotypical villainous performance could only get worse if he had a pencil moustache to twiddle as he outlawed Christmas.
All characters are over the top to the extent that it feels like a self-aware Guy Ritchie mocking his own format. The geezer-esque characters are only emphasised by the cheesy dialogue – my favourite line being just before the big battle when King Arthur of Camelot utters the line “go get the lads”. Aidan Gillen’s Goosefat Bill comes a close second in the stupid name awards, as a small character called Trigger takes it home with flying colours, especially considering the actor that takes the role; in the big pulling the sword from the stone moment – arguably the most iconic moment of the film – Guy Ritchie’s best mate David Beckham appears as Cockney guard Trigger to tell your boy Arthur to “left foot right foot, pull the sword out”. This cameo is so awful that I laughed out loud in the cinema, as did a lot of people in the screening with me, though personally this added to my experience as it felt like a fun summer film.
However, the summer movie vibe is let down by the pacing of the film. The final battle is exceptionally lacklustre; a giant snake is there for absolutely no reason and the showdown between Arthur and Vortigern is dull. The film opens with another unnecessary battle, showing the betrayal of Arthur’s father that led the young prince to grow up in a brothel. The film did not need this scene as the rest is so flashback- and montage-heavy that we see the same clips over and again anyway. Interesting details gets glossed over in a quick montage while dull conversations with cardboard characters are given way more screen time than they deserve.
The most impressive thing about King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword is the visual effects, which can be exceptional at times, but too much of the film is reliant on it and CGI becomes overused. The battle scenes could have been way more thrilling if they were real stunts rather than actors clearly in front of green screens. The thought of a battle scene becomes dull when the sword is given superpower status and Arthur is able to become a medieval superman and slaughter armies in slow motion – another aspect that could be way more thrilling if kept realistic.
All in all, this is an odd one to recommend; the film isn’t good and I wouldn’t suggest to anyone that they should see it, but it is fun and stupid and visually impressive to such an extent that if you watch it in the right mood it might just enhance your day.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is in cinemas across the UK now. Image source: Mymoviewallpapers.com