For those who aren’t familiar with Guy Ritchie movies, they have a very particular feel to them that doesn’t come with just any style of movie. He likes to have loud background music that sets the mood for most scenes. He also has a unique way of portraying character dialogue into a sort of interactive style flashback. For those of you who are familiar with Guy Richie movies, you will recognize in the first 5 minutes that this is a Guy Ritchie movie.
As sometimes is typical with Ritchie’s movies, there are times in this film where it seems like some of the most important parts are cut down to the point where it seems almost pointless to include them at all. Starting from the beginning, there is some wizard/mage guy that is attacking the castle with a bunch of huge elephants. The elephants are pretty sweet but the way they are defeated is pretty stupid. King Uther, Arthur’s father, simply infiltrates the structure on the elephant’s back, walks up to the wizard dude and kills him without anyone getting in his way. It definitely was a “Well that was easy” moment and unfortunately there are quite a few of those throughout. Towards the middle of the movie, Arthur has to go to the Dark Lands and survive attacks from giant rats, snakes, birds, and bats while he takes Excalibur to the stones at the top of a hill. There he is supposed to find some kind of clarity as to how to control the sword. I felt like this journey could have been like a 45-minute segment of the movie but it lasted like 7 minutes and left me thinking too much of that journey was omitted.
To be a little nit-picky, I actually hated the way the opening credits were done for this movie. They rolled through at the beginning and I thought they were done, but about 15 minutes in, they popped back up again. The title popped up randomly after the first scene was coming to an end, and was followed by a couple more minutes of opening credits. It just felt awkward and poorly placed, to be honest.
There is a character named Rubio that’s a part of Arthur’s gang that gets wounded in one of the smaller confrontations between his men and the bad King Vortigern’s soldiers (Blacklegs). He decides to try to hold the Blacklegs off to buy some time for his friends to climb a wall and escape. I figured it was going to be that stereotypical dramatic death where a friend gives his life for the group to escape, but that’s not at all what happened. You don’t really see what happens but more fighting breaks out and in the corner of the screen you see Rubio fall to the ground. The movie doesn’t even take two seconds to acknowledge the death of a main character, it just moves on and doesn’t look back. Later you see in a brief cutscene that reveals that Rubio is in fact still alive and in the captivity of the King, who is using him to find out information about the whereabouts of Arthur. Eventually, Arthur takes the castle and kills the bad king, but we never find out what happened to Rubio. It just felt like a really poorly written character that either needed to have an accurately acknowledged death or a dramatic moment at the end where his brothers find him alive.
The music in this film constantly reminded me of a couple other Guy Ritchie films: The Sherlock Holmes movies. I honestly love the way the background music set the tone and intensity of each and every scene. There may have been a couple of points where the music may have come across as obnoxious, but for the most part, it was a very enjoyable soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton.
The acting from our lead characters in this film is flat-out amazing. Charlie Hunnam plays Arthur and I was really impressed with the performance he gave. Arthur was kind of a rugged kid who grew up in a brothel and had to learn how to fight for himself early on in his life. Hunnam did a great job in expressing a wide range of emotion and intensity without sacrificing authenticity. His emotions really felt genuine throughout the entire movie. Jude Law is another guy who gave us a fantastic performance. He played Vortigern, Arthur’s Uncle and the main antagonist that Arthur is trying to kill. His character reminded me a lot of Commodus from Gladiator but while Commodus was a coward, I found Vortigern to be a very strong and complicated villain character. Speaking of Gladiator, Djimon Hounsou played a big role in this movie and gave us a solid performance in his own right. I have always been a fan of Hounsou ever since Gladiator (2000) and Blood Diamond (2006) came out, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed his character in this film.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was a very aesthetically pleasing movie overall. The cinematography was beautiful and gave us some very picturesque wide shots of the surrounding landscape. Coupling that with the alluring nature and intricate attention to detail of the set and costume designs, it becomes very easy to find yourself feeling like you are right in the middle of the ancient English landscape.
Some of the fight scenes in this film have a video game type feel to them that came across as very unique to me. The final duel was particularly unique and well done. It felt like a perfect way to wrap up the relationship between Vortigern and Arthur.
There is a lot of violence in this movie but none of it is very graphic. That being said, I did think the feel is very dark from time to time and I would not qualify King Arthur: Legend of the Sword as a family movie in any way, shape or form. It is a very enjoyable film for the right audience. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit more than I expected and I really hope that they release an extended edition on Blu-Ray to give a little better depiction to a couple of the more condensed plot points.