In my Fifty Shades of Grey review, I said that Charlie Hunnam is probably somewhere spiking the football that he backed out of this franchise before it ruined his career. Instead of having his reputation as Jax Teller forever ruined by being the worst film franchise in a couple of decades, if not ever, Charlie decided to opt for Guy Ritchie’s Medieval adventure film, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword as the lead. Guy Ritchie can be pretty hit or miss with his films. He has well-received efforts such as Snatch and the Sherlock Holmes series under his belt. Some middle of the road films like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the movie he wishes he could throw into a volcano along with his ex-wife Swept Away.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword hits the ground running as seconds into the movie you are set into a massive battle with against Giant Elephants straight out of Shadow of the Colossus. King Uther (Eric Bana) and his brother Vortigern (Jude Law) lead the army of England against an evil magical force. Despite Uther defeating their enemy with the help of Excalibur, the real threat lies with his own family as his jealous brother sacrifices members of his own family to achieve the power to kill his brother and take his place as King. During the fight, Uther’s son Arthur (Hunnam) is able to escape, where he is found and raised by the women of a local brothel. Completely unaware of his past, the born King is raised as an average man until the day Excalibur remerges and it is Arthur that must take his rightful place as the King, whether he wants it or not.
The tone of this film is all over the place to the point where it’s hard to understand what exactly the film wants to be. The film begins very serious in the opening and plays like a standard medieval tale. However, ten minutes later we shift to a comedic exposition story similar to Michael Pena’s story from Antman. The pace from dramatically serious to knee-slapping funny is pretty jarring early in the film. The story itself is sporadic not well explained. It takes you a while to understand exactly what’s going on and it feels like the movie does it on purpose. You open up with an epic battle, then you rush into a story of betrayal, the next thing you know you are watching a montage of about 20-25 years as Arthur grows up to become a man. After all of that, you end up in a story with Mages, Merlin, and some other characters while it takes the story abut 20-25 minutes to settle. The story elements simply do not mesh well together and hurts the overall product.
With a name cast like this, you expect the acting to be the best part of the film and it is. Charlie Hunnam was selected by Ritchie to be the lead in this project from the start and he is very charismatic in the role. Being a fan of Sons of Anarchy, it really wasn’t much of a surprise about his performance. Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey who plays the important role as the Mage is a standout even though at times she comes off as more anger than necessary portraying a no-nonsense character. The cast has a lot of chemistry and is generally pleasant, the only person who didn’t get a lot to work with was Jude Law who was a one note villain and could have done much more especially working with Ritchie like we’ve seen in the Sherlock Holmes films. The special effects are a mixed bag. When it comes to the monsters and the creatures, they look amazing displayed on the big screen. However, some of the action scenes look like bad CGI (similar to what The Matrix did when Neo fought a bunch of Agent Smiths) overall it’s well done with the exception of a couple of scenes you feel like could have been done better with a 120 million dollar budget.
When it comes to King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the weakest part of the film is the writing. It feels like if they had spent more time polishing the writing and making the flow of the film work better this would be a much better movie. With that said, the movie is enjoyable its many problems makes it more worthy of a rental than a must see in the theaters. Legend of the Sword is a typical Hollywood blockbuster, high on special effects and low on quality.