King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
King Arthur overwhelmed
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - Released to theaters in USA on May 12, 2017
Influenced by Director Guy Ritchie's previous films and by Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, this 2017 effort to tell the tale of the Once and Future King of the Britons is posed as a small renegade band of spunky rebels up against Jude Law as Vortigern the bad sorcerer king. I saw it originally in a movie theatre in which I was almost the sole occupant, and even on the 'big screen' the impressive CGI visuals (often obviously derived from LotR) cannot make up for the tedium of the rest of the story. The dialogue lines are written in 21st century expressions without a veneer of historicity, which perhaps would have been a plus except the costuming (well done) and the general physical world of Arthur is a mixed bag of revisionist and the natural world, but still Hollywood. The street-smart talking* seems out of place.
The scenes are padded with the epic film we've-got-all-the-time-in-the-world feeling, unfortunately cutting short the adventure tale momentum that gets built up within the separate sections of the movie.
Director Guy Ritchie makes efforts to speed things up with bravura dialogue-exchange scenes and time reversals which were highlights of his well done Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. Here, though, it looks like a gimmick, because instead of using the technique to tell us something important (in the Holmes movies it emphasized how smart Holmes was, able to juggle multiple lines of thought and theoretical time progression, allowing him to stay one step ahead of 'lessor mortals' around him) but in this King Arthur movie it is more like our King Arthur has a sudden sugar-frenzy, probably because it is not convincing that this Arthur is smarter, and is at times a bit dimmer, than those around him. Though there is some stoic men-of-iron moments, Arthur (actor Charlie Hunnam) emotes a lot for us, and Jude Law scowls, and it makes me wish the rest of the film had just been shorter, tighter, and got to the point faster (which, also unfortunately, is a big spend-all-the-money CGI climax). When the actors are actually doing things, the movie is fun, but there's a lot of staring off into the distance with the camera staring at them, and us in the audience staring at the screen, wondering, is anything going to happen?
A good looking movie, clever in places (copies out elements as diverse as the fuzzy pimp coats of soul movies and the paintings of Arnold Bocklin). King Arthur Legend of the Sword tries to keep in as much of the King Arthur filigree of past versions of the tale as possible, often fitting the puzzle together in interesting new ways. But, too long and too ponderous.
*Script by five: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, David Dobkin and Joby Harold
Original Page July 2020