Another King Arthur retread5/31/2017
Timeless tale is promising at first but disappoints
King Arthur is a timeless tale that has been told many times in books, plays, movies and for TV. It makes one wonder why we needed a new big-budget 3D King Arthur film, but Warner Bros. decided we did.
At first the film appears promising. Guy Ritchie is a big-time director, and he assembled a strong cast of well-known actors, led by a younger British hunk, Charlie Hunnam, as Arthur, who faces off against an aging British hunk, Jude Law, as his evil uncle, King Vortigern, in a quest for revenge and to claim what is rightfully his.
The movie begins with a battle sequence with giant evil elephants — you really can’t go wrong with giant evil elephants — attacking Camelot. King Uther (Eric Bana), Arthur’s father, leaps into battle with his magical sword Excalibur and is victorious. But the celebration doesn’t last long, because evil brother Vortigern grows jealous and betrays him with the help of some creepy sea witches. The witches appear to be a combination of Ursula and Jabba the Hut, which is supremely enjoyable. But poor Eric Bana, I hated seeing him get shafted again, as he does in “Troy” while playing King Hector, who dies at the hands of his brother.
He watches his parents die as he drifts down a river. Eventually a group of women find him and raise him to adulthood. The man who should have been a prince is left struggling to survive in the slums.
Next, viewers are treated to a montage of him maturing, training and hustling his way to the top of the slums. And in case you’re wondering, yes, this is where you get a nice glimpse of the man’s impeccable abs, the entire 12-pack. As time passes, he is viewed as a hero by the common folk, but all the while King Vortigern continues to search for him, with an intent to kill.
When Excalibur reveals itself, King Vortigern makes every man try to pull the sword in hopes of finding Arthur. When Arthur does pull out the sword, Vortigern immediately takes him to be executed, but Arthur is predictably saved and meets his father’s devoted followers Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) and Goosefat Bill Wilson (Aidan Gillen). This is when the movie begins to drag and jumps around a lot.
After a bunch of his followers die, Arthur finally decides to wield the magical sword. This realization only happens after a bunch of unexplained visions of a dark dimension, and it’s obvious at this point that the movie underwent major cuts during editing, leaving holes in the storyline.
The film has some classic Guy Ritchie scenes and interesting action sequences, but it is also disorienting at times. I watched the standard film, but this was clearly made for 3D —and with sequels in mind.
The movie involves a bunch of clichés: Boy’s parents are killed. Evil family member takes over. Boy is raised without knowing his parents. Boy discovers he is special. Boy rejects that he is special. Boys loses someone close. A fire is ignited in boy. Boy learns powers. Boy takes back crown. It’s a happy ending, for now.
We’ve all seen this story a million times, and we clearly don’t need to see another version. Guy Ritchie should have crafted an original story to pair with this talented cast. Instead it’s just another King Arthur retread. Regardless, the film is fun at times, especially if you’re a fan of medieval times, action or 3D movies. Otherwise, wait this one out and rent it on a random Tuesday night. Or even better, save it for a great cable-movie catch five months from now on HBO. ♦