We all know a variation of the story of King Arthur and Excalibur – an unsuspecting boy pulls a sword from a stone and is destined to rule Camelot, guided by the wise hand of Merlin the Wizard. Now let’s tweak the story ever so slightly by getting rid of the boy and replacing him with a
hot good looking man and geographically placing Camelot close to East London. Scrap the wizard and throw in a ragtag group of guys that are cast suspiciously like Robin Hood’s Merry Men, get Guy Ritche to stir the pot – et voila.
After the demise of the evil warlock Mordred by Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana), Camelot should be enjoying a new reign of peace. However Uther’s jealous brother, Vortigern (Jude Law) uses the uncertainty over Camelot’s future with those who wield magic, as a spring board to take his brothers place on the throne. Vortigern pays the ultimate price to have Uther and his wife killed, but unwilling leaves their young son to escape.
Found cold, alone and unclaimed by a group of prostitutes, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is raised in a brothel in the cold hard streets of Londinium, where as he grows from a boy to a man, he learns to fight and hustle to survive – each year getting stronger and more skilled in wit, charm and bribery, clueless to his linage.
Dragged back to Camelot by a cruel twist of fate, Arthur unknowingly pulls a recently emerged sword from the stone it is lodged where thousands before him have failed.
Vortigern, knowing that his power slips from his fingers with every second Arthur lives, orders a public execution. Unfortunately, the powers that be are far from done with Arthur, and his escape sparks a cat and mouse chase between him and his uncle across Londinium and Camelot, and only one of them can come out on top.
I am aware that I will sound like a total cheese ball… but; King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was more than just a movie – it was an experience.
There, I’ve said it and it can’t be unsaid. As with the likes of Edgar Wright, Zack Snyder, and Martin Scorsese (to name a few), Guy Ritchie puts a unique stamp on all of his movies and King Arthur was no exception. Finding inventive ways to navigate flashbacks, montages and even a standard chase scene, it meant that 92% of what was on screen made you sit up and pay close attention because a cut was never just a cut.
What stood out to me was the casting: There was a plethora of British TV talent displayed on the big screen. Of course this meant I was constantly and debatably annoyingly, whispering to my companion She was on the TV series Merlin lol, He was on Humans, He plays Little Finger on Game of Thrones, Omg it’s Denny from Eastenders! But that added familiarity with the actors made the movie all the more authentically enjoyable.
I know this will be a pretty niche pet peeve, but the depiction of the group of Vikings in the movie was way off. Having just come off a Viking themed Film and TV bender, I was irked to find that the Vikings were the opposite of ruthless – bowing to authority without so much as a scowl, fight or angry plunder.
Last but not least is Magic. There was an amazing scene in the beginning of the movie where giant war elephants are destroying Camelot, all under the order of the super powerful evil warlock extraordinaire Mordred. Cut to the present and magic is being used for little more than a decoy. It is contextualised, but it still seemed like a cop out, to be given a taste of magic in the begging, almost gearing you up for whats to come – only to have it snatched away. Magic is a endless and untameable resource that could have made for a weighty subplot for the movie.
I recommended King Arthur: Legend of the Sword to a friend of mine and I was absolutely shocked when he told me he probably wouldn’t see it because it hadn’t been getting good reviews. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Academy Award worthy – but it’s still a bloody good film, and I always think reviews should only hold a small amount of sway in comparison to the subjectivity of a movies personal appeal to the individual.
There is a lot of speculation as too why it didn’t do so well but your guess is as good as mine. At the end of the day it’s such a shame that no matter how much we want to believe that making movies is all about freedom of expression and creativity, it – like all other things – boils down to money. Sure it’s currently £55million away from breaking even on its budget, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad movie, and should abolish its chances at a sequel.