Warner Bros. recently held an event called “King for a Day,” theaters around the world were able to screen King Arthur: Legend of the Sword weeks before official release. I was able to see it, but didn’t know what to expect. Hence, I went in with no expectations other than to be entertained for two hours. Well, I actually had fun with the film, but it’s definitely not perfect.
The movie works best when tackling the mythology of the story and when it focuses on King Arthur as a character. The opening sequence contains the best VFX in the film and some of the best action as well. After the first couple of minutes, I was hooked and ready for what was to come. What came next however, didn’t really live up to the standard set at the beginning.
The film does a pretty good job of introducing the character of Arthur, with the director (Guy Ritchie) using his signature style. Quick cuts, weird noises, zoom-ins, and more are used in the film by Ritchie. I thought the style worked a lot of the time and, when it didn’t, it wasn’t jarring enough to take me out of the film. I really liked what Guy Ritchie was going for but I feel as if the execution wasn’t completely there. The movie tries very hard to be funny and exciting, but it only succeeded a few times, those few times being very good.
The story is predictable, but it has its emotional moments. It meanders a bit in the middle of the film and starts to feel like a mess. The editing during the 2nd act gets quite jumbled and it rushes over some key story elements. The movie felt like it was falling apart just before the third act, correcting itself for the most part by the end. In this sense, I think this was when Guy Ritchie’s style hurt the film instead of enhancing it.
Charlie Hunnam does a good job as Arthur and his performance practically carries the film. This interpretation of Arthur is more modern and has a comedic personality. This works for the most part but, I would have liked a bit more development for his character. I really liked his origin story and it mixed well with Guy Ritchie’s style. Jude Law does a fine job as the villain of the film and has some of the best emotional moments. He shines in some scenes but he really isn’t on screen enough to say he was great. His motivations were often convoluted and by the end of the film, I barely cared about his character.
The movie also introduces a lot of side characters, some you care about and some you simply don’t. I wished Ritchie had chosen a smaller group of people to lead the film. It would have made it easier to care about the characters and their motivations. They weren’t necessarily bad, just not as interesting as they should have been.
The sound design and soundtrack are great, everything from a sound standpoint worked very well together. I really enjoyed the score; Daniel Pemberton did a great job making the film feel fun yet medieval. The visual effects were very good…in the first couple of action scenes. There are some neat action scenes with Arthur and his sword but the VFX was very obvious. Although the choreography was good, the blatant VFX would sometimes take me out of it. I liked what Ritchie was going for once again, but the execution just wasn’t there completely.
Overall, I enjoyed the film, even with all of its imperfections. The story is a bit messy but there were some very good moments. The opening sequence is great, the actors did their best with what they were given. Only some of the humor in the film landed, so it could have really benefited from funnier dialogue. Guy Ritchie has his signature style and it’s not for everyone, so don’t go out running to see this unless you know you enjoy his films. I liked it a bit less than Guy Ritchie’s last film, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, which was more fun and entertaining.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword hits theaters May 12th.