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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Warner Bros. // PG-13 // May 12, 2017
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted May 9, 2017 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is the latest attempt at
revitalizing the King Arthur story. Warner Bros has brought
audiences a new take on the classic legend with an action-adventure
film from acclaimed filmmaker Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes).
The film is from executive producers David Dobkin (R.I.P.D.),
Jeff Kleeman (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), and Bruce Berman (The
Matrix
).



There have been many attempts at bringing the story of King Arthur
to the big screen before. With films such as King Arthur (2004),
Excalibur (1981), The Sword in the Stone (1963), it seems there is
always room for exploring the legend of King Arthur in cinema. What
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has that the other adaptations
don't is a modern sensibility, providing a spin on the classic
legend for today's audiences.



In this incarnation of the classic legend, King Arthur (Charlie
Hunnam) is unaware of his having any royal lineage. He simply knows
a common life in the streets of Londinium. Things change for Arthur
when he clasps his hands on the great sword Excaliber and withdraws
it from the stone.



With the sword Excaliber now in his possession, Arthur sets out on a
quest to defeat the wicked King Vortigern (Jude Law) from ruling
over the land. Vortigern murdered both of his parents, including his
father Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana). King Vortigern holds the most
power but many forces are gathering their strength to oppose him
with Arthur leading the way.



Arthur receives help on his quest from a magical mage Guinevere
(Astrid Berges-Frisbey), who has special powers and abilities. Sir
Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) and some of the other knights contribute
to helping Arthur's mission as he goes through training to have the
abilities necessary to take down the corrupt king once and for all.



The film is different from many other incarnations of the King
Arthur story. For one thing, the film is stylistically true to the
work of its director, Guy Ritchie. It's an action-packed, fast
paced, adrenaline-fueled experience. Those who have seen his other
works (including Sherlock Holmes and Snatch) will
have a pretty clear idea of the type of direction the film takes:
fast-cuts, quick pacing, and plenty of action.



The film has a stronger fantasy element than is seen in some prior
adaptations. This is one such adaptation which relies on the magical
component of the storytelling. This version also focuses heavily on
establishing the story of King Arthur. Though some of the other
knights make brief appearances in the film, they are far from the
focus (and not all of them even appear). Warner Bros. has planned
this film as the start to a potential 6 film series. With the round
table making an appearance at the end of the story its clear the
studio hopes for a sequel and franchise.



From a production standpoint, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is
superb with great production designs by Gemma Jackson (Game of
Thrones
). The world looks large and the canvas in which this
story takes place certainly feels immersive. The set decorations by
Tina Jones (Kick-Ass) add to this with a strong authenticity
to detail.



The costumes designed by Annie Symons (Saving Grace) are a
bit of a departure for this type of film while still maintaining
enough of a similarity to other versions that the change isn't
jarring. Then there's the special effects: the effects are
absolutely breathtaking at times and certainly contribute to the
excellent world building on display.



The music score by Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs, The Man From
U.N.C.L.E.
) is one of the best elements of the entire film.
This is an exciting score that keeps the energy level high and it
keeps good momentum. The score adds a great deal to the action
sequences and helps make the film a more entertaining experience.



The cinematography by John Mathieson (Logan, Gladiator)
impresses by giving the world a dark and foreboding atmosphere. This
is possibly the grimmest looking world that King Arthur has ever
been a part of. Even so, the cinematography fits the stylistic
approach of the entire film perfectly.



The story for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is by David Dobkin (R.I.P.D.)
and Joby Harold (Awake).The screenplay was written by Joby
Harold (Awake), Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking
Barrels
), and Lionel Wigram (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.).
The film is it's most fun when it's willing to use some humor and
when it allows for some impressive action scenes, such as the
climatic final battle.



Unfortunately, the story does become a bit convoluted at times and
an audience member could easily become somewhat confused by events
due to an uneven story. It jumps around a bit too much (in part due
to Ritchie's directorial style) but this is something that could
have been improved upon with a better script. The film will leave
some scratching their heads with sequences that are laid out too
quickly.



Despite a few reservations with regards to the story, King
Arthur: Legend of the Sword
excels as an exciting
action-adventure film featuring great special effects, a fun cast
(led by a surprisingly strong Charlie Hunnam), an exciting score,
and ultra-fast direction by one of the maestros of making ultra-fast
movies, Guy Ritchie. Though the film does have its flaws and diehard
King Arthur fans will probably be upset by it (because it doesn't
stick to the story flawlessly), most audiences will find it to be an
entertaining, if uneven, experience.



Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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