Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillan, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Eric Bana
Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Plot: A reimagined version of the classic tale finds young Arthur being adopted by a brothel after his parents are murdered by his power hungry Uncle (Law). He grows up into a streetwise young man (Hunnam). There’s a legend of how the Born King will come again and pull Excalibur from the stone, and his Uncle is trying to kill the Born King before that happens. But, a group of rebel fighters join Arthur’s side, and together they fight the evil king’s forces.
What Works: This is definitely a mixed bag. I loved the Guy Ritchie influenced parts of the film. There’s conversations that are shot just like he did in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrells. There’s a “storytelling” scene that feels right out of Snatch. The film works best when Ritchie is being Ritchie and not trying to be someone else, then the film slows down. I thought Jude Law was superb as the villain. He’s fucking terrifyingly good and should play more bad guys in the future. Hunnam also did a good job. I loved the films score, which serves to highlight some of the terrific action sequences. Most of the visual effects are good. It’s not a bad film, and it has enough good in it to be watchable.
What Doesn’t Work: However, there is a lot of bad in this film. When the film fails, it usually does so in a scene where it doesn’t feel very “Guy Ritchie”. I don’t know why he turns it on and off, because it forces weird tonal issues with the film, and also pushes pacing problems as well. This felt like a three hour journey, but was only a two hour one. It’s one of those films where people are on a constant journey, from one place to the next. Lots of exposition, because they thought they were setting up a franchise. Yet with all that exposition, I still felt there were characters in Arthur’s “Round Table” that I didn’t know, or have any clue what purpose they served. I didn’t even know most of their names. So much for setting up the world. Most of the visual effects are good, except the final battle sequence which literally reminded me of Mortal Kombat Annihilation. It was that poorly animated. I could tell it wasn’t Hunnam, but a rendered version of him. I also deducted almost a full letter grade because Astrid Berges-Frisbey is one of the worst actresses ever. Every single line she gave was like she was reading it phonetically from a cue card without any regard to what her words meant. There was one uncomfortable scene where she was talking, and you could tell she didn’t even know where the sentences began and stopped. She just kept speaking words. She gives the worst performance in a film I’ve seen probably in a few years. Nothing last year was as bad as she is in this film. I hope she quits acting, I really do. Adding to that, I don’t think any of the actresses in the film were good. Most seemed emotionally detached, or unable to produce the proper emotion required for the scene. It was like Ritchie found a bunch of zombie actresses void of emotion and cast all of them.
Final Word: This is very much a love/hate film, because there are moments and performances in this film I absolutely LOVE. Not just like, but love. But the film is dragged down by so many things I didn’t like, and one performance I truly hated. Honestly, everytime her character was talking, I wanted to leave the theatre. One time she was talking for too long, and I seriously was getting up out of my chair when she finally stopped talking. I just couldn’t take her anymore. If you’re curious about this film, I’d say wait for video. The visual effects are cool, but there’s too much shit to wade through to bother watching this at full price on the big screen.
FINAL GRADE: C-