King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review: Guy Ritchie’s Gritty Fantasy Destined to Fail

If you were to tell me that Guy Ritchie was going to direct a movie retelling the story of the legendary King Arthur, I would say you’re crazy. However, if you add a modern kind of take on that idea, that would be already a case of screwing it up before it came out.

When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword Excalibur from the stone, his life is turned upside down.


To me, I’m not the biggest fan of Ritchie’s style of directing sometimes because it can become overbearing to the point of labeling it style over substance. Though his earlier works are good like Snatch, his most recent movies aren’t too praise worthy for my taste. But this didn’t look good at all because all of the trailers were quite terrible (ruining Led Zeppelin’s Babe I’m Gonna Leave You). Also, do we need another movie surrounding King Arthur? I mean, how many times are we gonna have to see him pull Excalibur out? Remember when Antoine Fuqua did one 13 years ago?  So, to no surprise, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was destined to be mediocre. Even with the lowest of expectations, this was just uninteresting.

Because of Ritchie’s direction style, this will, of course, have the unnecessary fast-paced quick cuts that don’t fit in those times. And I already knew that’s what he was going for, but this doesn’t work in Arthurian times especially with his witty dialogue scenes. His techniques when everything is edited could’ve been interesting and fun. In the way it was executed, it ended up distracting the crap out of me. For instance, the opening credits and what quickly follows after that. In some ways, it was kind of paying homage to Snatch, but it wasn’t working. It was like he was trying to make this mixture of A Knight’s Tale, Ben-Hur (2016 remake), and Robin Hood, and it turned out to be an overlong mess. And it’s felt so long and it was so boring. At least it started out fast-paced, but it fell off quickly.

There are times where studios push Hunnam to really become the next big movie star. Sure, Sons of Anarchy was good for him, but this isn’t the big role that will reach him to be considered huge. I heard he was really good in this year’s The Lost City of Z. He was surprisingly good and fits this role. When he carries the emotion, he handles it. Law as Vortigern wasn’t too over-the-top in his performance, but they could’ve done more with him. And although she’s beautiful to look at, Astrid Berges-Frisbey as the magical Mage was honestly terrible.

From a storytelling standpoint, there isn’t much substance to really care about in this. This is one those stories that are really predictable. It’s the kind of tale that’s been told before where the strong hero has to rise and defeat his/her rival. Been there, done that. Didn’t feel like there was no real story. Besides that, the tone is all over the place as the humor and action don’t corporate. 

Jude Law, Peter Ferdinando, and Geoff Bell in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Coming across the action sequences that are meshed together with the fantasy elements, it didn’t do anything for me. A lot of the CGI looked pretty terrible and the third act looked like something out of a video game during the boss battle.

Even before this came out, I had a feeling that this was going to be the first movie of the summer to do poorly at the box office, and how right I am? Now after finally checking this out, it’s still a terrible idea for him to direct the live-action Aladdin, in my opinion.

Overall, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword could’ve been a surprise as some people did enjoy it, but I on the other side of the coin to where this was a mess to get through. Whether it’s Ritchie’s direction or a bland story to not care about. This is definitely his movie. A modern contemporary update like this could’ve been a lot better and end up.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a flat-out dull fantasy about its title character that Guy Ritchie’s style couldn’t contrast.

Grade: D+


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