Welcome back you everyone. It is I, Doc Comeau and I am back with another movie review. This week I am reviewing the new Warner Bros', King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. This movie stars Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and Jude Law. This movie is an interesting take on an old legend.
Authored by Doc Comeau on Sunday, January 30th, 2021 at 5:50 PM EST
All Photos from IMDb
There is not much to this story that isn't already known. It's just another retelling of the Arthurian legends. Arthur must look pull the sword from the stone and with the help of his friends/Knights of the Round Table and the magic from magicians defeat a powerful and evil magical enemy inorder to rise to take his rightful place on the throne.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is the brainchild of British director Guy Richie. A film maker that understood what he wanted to do in life at an early age as he stopped attending his school and started working in the film industry at a young age. He is responsible for bringing us such productions as Lock, Stock and Two SMoking Barrels, and RDJ's Sherlock Holmes movies from the early 2000s. He is a veteran of the business and a talented filmmaker.
Charlie Hunnam steps in to fill the shoes of Arthur for this adaptation of the film. This might not be a popular opinion among critics and moviegoers, but to me Hunnam was the best portrayal of the Arthurian hero I have seen to date. Capturing a new take on the character, but maintaining his love and help of the common folk of the realm.
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey steps in to fill the role as Aurthur's guiding magician, though, while a member of Merlin's students it was an odd choice only to mention the wizard and not feature him as Arthur's protector and guide. Whether it was to give Arthur a love interest or simply to try something that never was attempted she did an excellent job bringing the magical warrior to life. A young sorceress they simply refer to as the Mage.
Jude Law brigs the film's villain to life in truth Jude Law fashion. An excellent performance from an excellent actor as he normally does. However, the villain of this film has a twist. Its not Morgana or Mordred like the original legends. Here Jude Law brings Vortigern a legitimate 5th century warlord with a magical twist. In addition to him being Arthur's uncle and the murderer of his parents.
Rotten Tomatoes Scores
This movie was not received well by moviegoers and critics alike. According to Rotten Tomatoes this film has a "31%" on the Tomatometer out of "277 reviews." The audience has rated it much more generous, but it still only netted a "69%" from over "26,000 reviews." Below you can read the general thoughts of the critics that reviewed this movie. I however will review it from my own lens.
CRITICS CONSENSUS: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword piles mounds of modern action flash on an age-old tale -- and wipes out much of what made it a classic story in the first place.
After critiquing the film's story, performances, and the cinematography I have to conclude King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was an average film. It doesn't deserve a high rating, but it does deserve a larger one than the one Rotten Tomatoes gave it. With 1 being awful and 10 being magnificent, I would give this film a 7.2 out of 10. I would recommend this film to all audiences, but fans of the Arthurian Legend may find some issuing with the film. Issues that may have been solved if the film got its five planned sequels.
With 1 being awful and 10 being magnificent, I would give this film a 7.2 out of 10. I would recommend this film to all audiences, but fans of the Arthurian Legend may find some issuing with the film. Issues that may have been solved if the film got its five planned sequels. - Doc Comeau
Story and Screenplay
The story of this film I'd probably the weakest aspect of the film. It didn't include any of the traditional villains of the tale and replace Arthur's mentor and love interest on a character they didn't give a name or any character development. It was not a bad story, it just simply wasn't the Arthurian legend it claims to be.
The story begins with Arthur's father stopping an invasion of Camalot from a powerful enemy using the power of Excalibur, a Sword enchanted by the legendary wizard Merlin. Only to be later betrayed by his brother who acquires magic through sacrificing his wife to a horrific creature in the catacombs of Camalot. Leaving Arthur orphaned to be raised by the women in a local brothel.
The film features a montage sequence of Arthur growing into the man he is to become for the film. Establishing he network, the profession, and closest friends before forcing him to confront the sword in the stone. The sword he effortlessly draws from the stone and causes the events of the film to unfold.
His uncle is not too happy that he survived all these years and is threatened by his claim to the throne of Camalot and despite Arthur agreeing to disappear and never return his Uncle decides to execute him in public. He is then saved by the Mage and some rebels and able to escape. Arthur then must undertake a journey with the Mage to claim the true power of the Sword.
After completing the quest with the Mage, Arthur confronts his uncle and kills him. Ultimately claiming the throne as the rightful king and elevating his friends off the streets. It ends with the reveal of the fabled roundtable.
This was an incredible story and could have been an incredible film, but the liberties with the villain and the ultimate exclusion of fan favorite characters stole its thunder. It also didn't help that it was filled with overly expensive special effects that pulled you away from the narrative of the story. I was forced to ultimately rate this section of the film with a 6 out 10.
It also didn't help that it was filled with overly expensive special effects that pulled you away from the narrative of the story. I was forced to ultimately rate this section of the film with a 6 out 10. - Doc Comeau
Performance and Dialogue
Now this is where the film shined. Every single performance from Arthur of the background characters were excellent and the dialog served the character speaking it and the film's narrative. There was not a single piece of dialog that didn't hold a deeper meaning for the film's story. Though the film's strongest performance was definitely Charlie Hunnam's portrayal of Arthur Pendragon.
It is my belief, no other actor could have filled the role the same. Plenty of other actors could have given an equally entertaining and enjoyable performance, but Hunnam was built for this role. The character fit his stature and personality perfectly.
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey's portrayal of the Mage was also on the same level, but lacked adequate character development and ultimately fell flat as a result of not being able to connect to the audience. I was looking forward to the sequel where this could have been addressed, but the studio ended up canceling it for not making enough money at the theater. Now we may never know.
It's sad the film lacked enough character development to succeed, but it is understandable as Guy Richie meant it to be a six film series. Despite the lack of character development I would give the performances of the film and 8 out of 10. It could easily be a 9 or 10 but suffered from the flaws listed above.
Despite the lack of character development I would give the performances of the film and 8 out of 10. It could easily be a 9 or 10 but suffered from the flaws listed above. - Doc Comeau
The Cinematography of this film was not bad, in fact, it was extremely visually compelling, but it did pull you from the narrative. There were sequences were a character would wield Excalibur and all ambient noise would vanish and Arthur would go into a slow motion sequence and murder his enemies with no challenge or have a vision and return from it victorious without seeing what he had done. I think having a more traditional sword fight with actual risk to Arthur would have served to develop his character more.
While not did show him grow and develop into a competent Martial Artist through the montage at the beginning, these skills do not translate into weapons and the character received no weapons training at all throughout the film. Despite the sword being powerful Arthur should not have properly wielded it and should have been forced to learn how to use it not just harness its magic. Ultimately a choice that contributed to the film's failure at the Box Office.
With that out of the way, these sequences were excellently shot, edited and the special effects were top tier film making. If combined with the proper character development, especially in a film with six planned sequels, they would have been a solid plus for the film rather than lowering its score. Flashy action sequences without the proper character points is not good for any film and ultimately failed here. I was forced to detract some points for this and give the Cinematography a 7.5 out 10.
Flashy action sequences without the proper character points is not good for any film and ultimately failed here. I was forced to detract some points for this and give the Cinematography a 7.5 out 10. - Doc Comeau
1) IMDb.com. (2017, May 12). King Arthur: Legend of the sword. IMDb. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1972591/
Archived At; https://archive.ph/nuWe5
2 )King Arthur: Legend of the sword. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2022, from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/king_arthur_legend_of_the_sword
Archived At; https://archive.ph/cBlM4
3) Hunnam, C., Berges-Frisbey, A., & Law, J. (n.d.). King Arthur: Legend of the sword. Warner Bros.