3 1/2 Stars
Director Guy Ritchie’s patented hyper-kinetic style of visual and narrative storytelling serves him well on, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword a dazzling and exhaustive big-budget pleasure machine. This ultra-loose retelling of the Arthur saga is unlike any other that has come before, for better or worse. You’re either going to marvel at its feast of cinematic virtues or repel from its frantic need to divulge as much plot as possible into a two-hour ‘popcorn’ movie.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword plays similar to the Robin Hood tale of English folklore. Ritchie and his screenwriter collaborators have turned this version of the ‘Man born to be King’ into a rouge leading a nest of outlaws in an effort to disrupt the flow of money into the kingdom of King Vortigern (Jude Law). Thus causing the slowing of the construction process on the King’s new tower, an ominous structure that will increase his power in the dark arts ten-fold. Arthur (Charlie Hunann) is presented as a street-smart tough-guy with a sharp intellect and heavy hands in a fight. He gets caught up in the mandatory search for the man who can pull the vaulted Excalibur from its resting place within a stone. When he does this he exposes himself as the rightful heir to the throne, thus becoming an instant enemy and threat to the rule of his Uncle. Arthur is saved from execution by a group of outlaws and before long the rightful heir is leading the band of vengeance-minded criminals.
This highly stylized and fiercely energetic tale of King Arthur is one of the year’s surprises. Traditionalists will be hard pressed to find much to appease them, but a younger audience raised on Lord of the Rings and video games will be delighted. The film took a critical and commercial drubbing during its theatrical window, but I’m confident that the picture will become something of a cult classic after the fact.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law