I watched the press screening of “Messcalibur,” meets “Sword of the Rings,” err, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” with about 10 friends. Most of them liked it, which puts me in the minority. I tend to agree with the Rotten Tomatoes rating on this one: currently at 27-percent.
Throughout the movie, I constantly had to ask myself, “What am I watching?” “Guy Ritchie, what happened to you?”
When he came out with “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” in 1998 and “Snatch” in 2000, I was entertained by the quick and witty dialogue, his rock and roll approach to gangsters, wheelers, dealers, shady characters and both the hapless and the sly who orbit them. He was funny and cheeky and assembled a playful cast for those films.
Unfortunately, he has not made anything on that level since. I suspect his success with 2009’s rock and roll, deconstructed, steam punk flavored “Sherlock Holmes” with Robert Downey, Jr. inspired a sequel in 2011 and got a similarly flavored, deconstructed “Victor Frankenstein” bankrolled. After that, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was next on the chopping block.
King Arthur uses one fantasy trope after another, despite the promise of a fresh take from a classic. As a result, much of it remains unsurprising and done without much love.
I wish it were actually as good as the promotional materials—Charlie Hunnam went to San Diego Comic Con and at the same time, sent a video greeting out to the Philippines. Moreover Hunnam with co-actors Djimon Honsou, Jude Law and Annabelle Wallis shot a great video with their take on the plot.
At the beginning of the film you see Lord of the Rings elephants laying siege to what looks like Helm’s Deep; an evil tower with a burning top just like Barad-dur; and Arthur’s sword that glows blue like Sting.
Meanwhile, one scene is reminiscent of Galadriel looking in her mirror and another of Aragon reaching Weathertop or Amon Sul. Even the bad knights have the spiky nazgul foot armor.
Charlie Hunnam is hot as usual but sometimes, hot can’t carry a whole film.
Just another bit of trivia—a King Arthur film has been talked about for a long time that at one point it had Kit Harington cast as Arthur and Joel Kinnaman as Lancelot.
Guy Ritchie, will be working on the live action “Aladdin” film for Disney. The flash he’s known for is fine but I hope he gets to work with more clever and original art directors and that he gives that movie heart and solid center.
For fun, try watching John Boorman’s 1981 film “Excalibur,” or “Alien: Covenant.” “Covenant” is predictable, in that most of the crew won’t make it out alive but it’s incredibly effective as a space horror film—with some philosophy to argue about after.