King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review (Minor Spoilers)
While entertaining and a visual feast, Guy Ritchie's latest blockbuster lacks plot cohesion and never quite endears you to most of the characters.
Directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tells the story of King Arthur before he puts on the crown. As far as he knows, he was born and raised by prostitutes in a brothel, eventually developing the physical skills necessary to protect them from over-zealous patrons. Amassing a small fortune for himself does nothing to dull the edge of the recurring nightmares that plague him night after night. After a run-in with the wrong people, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) goes on the run but is quickly stopped and forced, like every man his age, to try to draw the sword from the stone. Accomplishing this would prove he is the "born King" and legitimate heir to Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana). Obviously, he does. The current King, Vortigern (Jude Law), can not abide that and thus we have our conflict.
This particular retelling is far grittier than its predecessors (except for maybe King Arthur starring Clive Owen). Everyone knows the story of the Sword in the Stone, but from this perspective, magic and even martial arts take center stage. Ritchie's stylized direction almost covers for the lack of character development and overtly CGI creatures, but I left the film with a sense that they had Arthur begin to truly care for the plight way too late in the film. Don't get me wrong, Hunnam is charming and charismatic in the role and the fact that he doesn't really care about the goal of the resistance actually works from a believability standpoint, but that notion drags on too long for my tastes.
Female characters, as usual in Hollywood, take a backseat to their male counterparts. In this, especially, you never really get the sense that any of them matter from a character view, as opposed to a story view. Djimon Honsou and the other characters are well rounded and funny. They add a necessary depth and color to the film. However, the brightest light is definitely Jude Law. The word Shakespearean comes to mind. He's a tragic figure that you hate, but you understand. He owns every scene he's in and with good reason. The movie might have dropped a star or 2 without the likes of his talent.
While entertaining and a visual feast, Guy Ritchie's latest blockbuster lacks plot cohesion and never quite endears you to most of the characters. Should you watch it? Yep. Worth a movie ticket? Meh. It won't kill you to rent this one after the fact.