Film: “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”; Director: Guy Ritchie; Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jude Law, Eric Bana, Annabelle Wallis, Peter Ferdinando, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Geoff Bell, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay, Lorraine Bruce, Eline Powell and Hermione Corfield; Rating: **1/2
“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is a bit of a mishmash. It is not a gritty, realistic film that reveals the horrors of medieval warfare. Instead, it is an action-filled, fun film that is consistently interesting. It makes missteps and there are bits that absolutely don’t work, but it surprisingly succeeds more often than it fails.
Within minutes of the opening it becomes apparent that this is not a traditional retelling of how Arthur became the King of England.
With oversized elephants and an excessively populated action sequence that forms the prologue, the film settles to reveal, how, after the nefarious Vortigern (Jude Law) kills his brother Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) to steal the throne, Uther’s young son Arthur is forced into hiding and is raised in a brothel.
And, with an impressive montage, the director shows the rise of both Vortigern and Arthur (Charlie Hunnam). We see Vortigern amassing power and Arthur learning to survive on the streets of Londinium, till he grows up. It is only when Arthur liberates the sword from the stone and is on the run with his band of rebels before being forced to face Vortigern that the narrative becomes interesting.
With not much heed paid to the emotional graph of the characters, the performances of its ace cast are totally perfunctory.
The film trudges for over two hours and is weighed down with fantasy tropes playing to the director’s strengths. These fantasy tropes that include the giant, wizard-controlled elephants, coiled water monsters and other supernatural material that boost its blockbuster trappings, in fact, are the film’s death knell.
These ruin the narrative flow making it seem as if there are two or three different films running concurrently. Also the weirdly sudden occurrence of slow motion frames makes it feel as if the film is yawning.
Visually, the film is ostentatiously mounted with state-of-the-art effects along with thrilling and engaging music.
Director Guy Ritchie’s personal style has certainly been noted, given the enormous footprint he leaves throughout the film.
It is obvious that emotional engagement and history are lost in the trivial detailing, but if you focus on the visual aspects and pure entertainment, you can appreciate the film for what it is.
By Troy Ribeiro