Giant elephants! Magic! Charlie Hunnam sans Sons of Anarchy cut!
BQB here with a review of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Just like with King Kong, every decade Hollywood trots out the King Arthur tale, dusts it off and tries to give it a little extra pizzazz. Clive Owen did just that in a 2004 version and now British Director/Madonna’s ex-husband Guy Ritchie is having a go.
The critics are panning the crap out of it and personally, I feel like they should lighten up a bit. True, it’s far from being historically accurate and there are a lot of phrases, sayings etc. that seem a tad too modern, not so modern that they ruin the film but just enough that they make you cringe a bit.
Bottomline: if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, you’ll have a good time. If you’re a historical purist, you’re going to think it’s a giant pile of donkey crap. So, like most things in life, it’s all about perspective.
In this retelling, King Uthur (Eric Bana) is betrayed Hamlet-style by his evil brother, Vortigern (Jude Law). An infant Arthur is whisked away just in time to avoid being chopped to pieces by his uncle and ends up being raised in a brothel by a band of happy go lucky prostitutes because if it’s one thing we all know, prostitutes are gangbusters when it comes to child rearing.
Sigh. I’m going to letters for that comment aren’t I? “Waah! Screw you, BQB! My mother was a prostitute and I turned out just fine!”
But I digress. Long story short, adult Arthur (Hunnam) pulls the infamous sword Excalibur out of the stone, fulfilling a prophesy yet ending up on King Vortigern’s shit list.
To save the day, he’ll join up with a group of plucky rebels and blah, blah, blah…go see it if you want to know how it all turns out.
Guy Ritchie, the director who gave us edgy, whipcrack fast, violent comedies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998 and Snatch in 2000 brings his rather unique style to the historical film genre, a genre whose fans aren’t exactly known for wanting uniqueness of any kind. In other words, this film was an uphill climb for the Ritchster.
Guy came to prominence in the 1990s, during what I would call the Tarantino period, a time when directors totally threw the “start at the beginning and go to the end” style of storytelling and instead, embraced flashbacks, flash forwards, flash sideways (some shit is happening here while some other shit is happening over there at the same time.)
Thus, this film, a retelling of one of Jolly Old England’s most beloved tales, feels less like a period piece and more like a heist film. Arthur and Company engage in witty, quip laden banter as they plot out there schemes. “You go here, I’ll be there” and then the action unfolds as the characters discuss what they’re going to do.
Between that style and some funky music, Guy does take a lot of risks and honestly, its up to you, the viewer, to personally decide if they paid off. Guy’s made big money, made great films and got to be married to Madge, so he probably doesn’t care what you think about his film. He just wanted to put his own spin on his homeland’s great legend and if you like it, great. If not, Snatched is playing in the theater next door. Maybe Amy Schumer’s non-stop vagina jokes are more your cup of tea.
Meanwhile, it’s great to see Charlie Hunnam get more post-Sons of Anarchy work, especially one where he can put his British accent to work. He did well in Pacific Rim and he can carry more films if Hollywood is willing to dole more out to him.
Still, he does have that Jax-like bad boy quality to him. It fit here because this is the “King Arthur is a bad boy” film, but I wonder if he’ll ever get a film where he isn’t the bad boy? Maybe Charlie’s too badass to even care.
All I know is this version of King Arthur made more money as a pimp (yes, adult King Arthur is a pimp, for shame!) than Charlie’s alter ego Jax ever made via SAMCRO’s pimping operations.
Don’t even get me started on Sons of Anarchy. Those motorhead idiots committed so much crime and made such little cash to show for it. They’d of wasted less time and money had they all just gotten jobs at Wal-Mart.
Sidenote: Lots of big names in this case. Eric Bana, Jude Law and Djimon Hounsou, three characters well versed in the historical action genre, all appear in this film. That amazes me because that probably could not have happened ten years ago. These three in their prime in one film would have bankrupted the studio. Also, Game of Thrones fans will be happy to see Aidan Gillen (or Lord Littlefinger to GOT fans), and happy or not so happy to see Michael McElhatton (aka Roose Bolton, your happiness or unhappiness to see him will likely depend on which side you took during that whole Red Wedding fiasco).
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Don’t let the critics get you down, Guy.