Curtains Up on King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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It’s not high art. But it’s actually entertaining.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a Guy Ritchie film. If you don’t like his style, this movie is not for you. Is this a great movie?  No. Not by a long shot. Is it entertaining?  Yes. It’s big, dumb and loud. It takes the Arthurian legend and flips it sideways. Now I always found John Boorman’s classic Excalibur to be the definitive film version of the tale. And it still is.  But if you want a kinetic, gritty and stylish 2 hours of medieval pageantry, you could do a lot worse.

Charlie Hunnam plays Arthur, the heir to the throne of Camelot. As a child he escaped a mass slaughter led by his evil, magical and mad as hell uncle, Vortigern ( Jude Law). He grows up to be a rough and tumble brothel owner in old time London. Fearing his return, Vortigern seeks his nephew out, forcing every young man to pull the famous sword excalibur from the stone it is set in. Of course Arthur finds his way to the stone and claims his birthright or else, well, there would be no legend and of course, no movie.  Where the movie meshes well with Ritchie is the scenes where Arthur and his cronies slunk around the back alleys of London. He brings his rat-a-tat style to the dialogue that brings to mind the best of Ritchie’s early films.

The acting is fine. Hunnam is perfect in the role. He’s a brutish charmer, not far removed from his Son’s of Anarchy days.  Law is a grand, scenery chewing villain. All he needs a moustache to twirl. The film looks great. The sets, costumes and most of the effects, both practical and CG are impressive. The only flaw is the last twenty minutes when it becomes a video game with Authur finally using his sword to slay a hundred bad guys in seconds.

It isn’t perfect. It’s no masterpiece. It won’t be long remembered. But it’s summer and movies like this are made for it.

About Joe Rossi

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