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New Release Review - KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

king arthur legend of the sword review
Director Guy Ritchie's take on the Arthurian legend.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Neil Maskell

king arthur legend of the sword poster


As a schoolboy in Ireland I was regularly held enthralled whenever a teacher would relate one of the great tales of Celtic lore - Cuchulainn and the hound, The Brown Bull of Cooley, the exploits of The Fianna (Irish mythology's version of The Avengers). Those stories are timeless, and here in Ireland we hold them in great respect. They're important to us, a proud part of our culture. If you're British you likely feel the same way about the Arthurian legends, and if so your reaction to Guy Ritchie's take on your nation's greatest folk tale may be to request the Queen exercise her power to imprison the director in the Tower of London.

king arthur legend of the sword

In Ritchie's Cor Blimey, Apples and Pears, Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit reboot, Charlie Hunnam is more Arthur Daley than Arthur Pendragon, a cockney tyke who grows up in the mean streets of Londinium (an early montage that details his rise is the one part of the film where Ritchie's ADHD style makes sense). As an adult he learns he is the son of one-time King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana), slain by the hand of his treacherous brother Vortigern (Jude Law). With his father's sword Excalibur at his side, Arthur sets out to overthrow his evil uncle and establish a new reign in not so merry England.

Though his career is now 20 years old, Ritchie shows no signs of maturing as a filmmaker; he's still stuck in the lad's mag, Tarantino era of the '90s, and King Arthur combines the worst of that period's filmmaking with the most annoying of modern techniques. As incomprehensible as it is insufferable, King Arthur looks like a movie edited by a Singer sewing machine, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sets a new record for the most cuts in a feature film. Ricthie and his editor display no understanding of comic timing, with the film's many visual gags landing with the grace of a drunken pigeon. The fight scenes are vomit-inducing, often employing go-pro cameras strapped to actors' heads to further induce nausea.

king arthur legend of the sword

Apparently taking its cue from Ant-Man, Ritchie's narrative is essentially a series of heists pulled off by Arfur and his laddish companions. Before each of these endeavours we're treated to a sequence in which Arthur spins us his plan of how he intends to infiltrate a castle, fortress, whatever. "Roif lads, I'll kick the guard in the bollocks!" he'll smirk, before Ritchie shows us his hero kicking said guard in said sensitive area. Rather than the heroes of England's greatest legend, this motley crew comes off like a mob of football hooligans planning a ruckus with a rival firm.

An unmitigated mess, King Arthur presents us with some truly baffling moments. Giant elephants feature in the opening sequence, but such creatures are never acknowledged again, as if the rest of the film takes place in a more reality based world. David Beckham turns up in a cameo that will have you squirming at his mockney accent. The eponymous hero lacks any sort of consistency, quiet and sullen in one scene, a wisecracking cheeky chappy in the next, as though the film can't decide whether he's The Man With No Name or Han Solo. The moment in which King Arthur uses the phrase 'Honeytits' may be the lowest ever point in British culture.

king arthur legend of the sword

A $175 million fiasco aimed squarely at the Men & Motors crowd, the experience of watching King Arthur: Legend of the Sword can be replicated at home by playing the audio of a random episode of Danny Dyer's The Real Football Factories over any of Uwe Boll's straight to video medieval romps. If in six months time you see one of your mates approaching your home with a DVD copy and a six pack tucked under his arm, pull your drawbridge up without haste.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is in UK/ROI cinemas May 19th/17th respectively.



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