Film Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

09:10 May 16, 2017
By: Fritz Esker

Cinema’s most iconic King Arthur tale (not made by Monty Python) is probably 1981’s Excalibur, which is both brilliant and terrible, sometimes in the same scene. But while Excalibur is a film that constantly swings for the fences, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword mostly feels like blockbuster-by-committee.

Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is orphaned after his parents (a king and queen) are murdered by his uncle (Jude Law). After growing up into a brawler on the streets of Londinium, he removes the sword Excalibur from its stone and he becomes a hero to rebel factions hoping to overthrow Law.

The King Arthur story beats are pretty bland and rote, even though Hunnam is a fairly charismatic lead. The final act’s swordplay is the dullest part of the movie. Co-writer/director Guy Ritchie is known primarily for his caper movies like Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Not coincidentally, King Arthur finds a pulse in a few scenes where it resembles a medieval caper flick. There’s enough life in these parts to make you realize that it might actually be pretty cool for someone to make a medieval crime caper film. But alas, Hollywood is mostly interested in rehashing old properties instead of creating original material.

** stars (out of four)

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