King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review – Ehhhhhhhhhhxcalibur

Cinematic takes on King Arthur have attempted to be realistic, romantic, fantastical and even musical (that one began on Broadway to be fair). King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is all posturing bravado.

MMA totally ripped off King Arthur.

It gets off to a rough start when the film chooses really odd moments to highlight. The opening shot of a castle in the distance with chanting heard fades to black again for some text info. So how are we supposed to know or care about that castle, which is the first image you decided to show us? The murder of Arthur’s mother is the big smash to opening titles, but this is a character we’ve only seen briefly as Uther (Eric Bana) is trying to get his family to safety. I know it sucks to have bad guys kill your family. Steven Seagal knows this too. A movie needs to give us a little more, especially when it’s such a standard motivator.

Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) growing up is the first of many Snatchy montages. Oddly, a hair cut is included with the same intensity as all the violence and fighting. That thing where they talk about their plans as the scene is already happening gets really old.

An elephant never forgets to smash a castle.

Combining mythological creatures with a gritty action take on King Arthur may have sounded good on paper. Maybe if either component worked it would be. Giant elephants smashing through a castle clearly wants to be Lord of the Rings. There are octopus women and cave monsters, most of which are seen too fleetingly to make an impact. The orc-like demonic villain really looks like a boss fight in a Soul Caliber or Dead or Alive video game on Xbox.

The battle action is all shaky cam. Just in case you could still see what was going on, they actually add a dust storm to make sure you can’t see anything. In the first battle, Uther sacrifices his horse making a jump that only one of them is going to land. I suppose more things like that could show how cold their decisions have to be, but on its own it just seems like Uther’s a dick. That horse is a soldier too. You wouldn’t use a knight as a human shield.

Talk to the hand.

It’s not entirely clear what Legend of the Sword wanted to add to the King Arthur myth. The origin of the sword in the stone is an interesting twist. Other setups like the round table are groan inducing. Arthur has such a volatile reputation that everyone stays out of his way. So is this supposed to show this ain’t your father’s Arthur? It still seems like his knights follow him because they have to per the actual legends, not that his new characterization inspires them to. Vortigern (Jude Law) has a convoluted deal with the mages that gives him corrupt evil power, but it’s an awful long way to go when you could just say, “He’s got evil magic. Stop him.”

Hello, medieval ladies.

The score combines medieval music with a rock n’ roll twist. It’s as aggressive as the rest of the movie, but seems to be the most authentically motivated aspect. As schizophrenic as the movie is, it wouldn’t have been out of place to use “We Will Rock You.” Other sound effects like creaking leather just draw attention to themselves and take you out of the scene.

Guy Ritchie’s touch worked for adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. You can’t expect it to fit every property, so here’s one that didn’t work. If this is a hit anyway, will the sequel be King Arthur 2: On the Rocks?


Charlie Hunnam stars in KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, directed by Guy Ritchie – in theaters May 12, 2017.

Acclaimed filmmaker Guy Ritchie brings his dynamic style to the epic fantasy action adventure “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Starring Charlie Hunnam in the title role, the film is an iconoclastic take on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur’s journey from the streets to the throne.

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 comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.

Starring with Hunnam (FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”) and Oscar nominee Law (“Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”) are Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”) as Mage; Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond,” “In America”) as Bedivere; Aidan Gillen (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) as Goosefat Bill; and Eric Bana (“Star Trek”) as Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon.

Guy Ritchie (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” the “Sherlock Holmes” films) directed the film from a screenplay is by Joby Harold (“Awake”) and Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram, story by David Dobkin (“The Judge”) and Joby Harold. The film is produced by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind,” “I Am Legend”), Joby Harold, Tory Tunnell (“Awake,” “Holy Rollers”), and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Sherlock Holmes” producers Steve Clark-Hall, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram. David Dobkin and Bruce Berman are executive producers.

Ritchie’s behind-the-scenes creative team included two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography John Mathieson (“Gladiator,” “The Phantom of the Opera”), Oscar-nominated production designer Gemma Jackson (“Finding Neverland”), editor James Herbert (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Edge of Tomorrow”), costume designer Annie Symons (Masterpiece Theater’s “Great Expectations”), makeup and hair designer Christine Blundell (“Mr. Turner,” the “Sherlock Holmes” films), and Oscar-nominated VFX Supervisor Nick Davis (“The Dark Knight”). The music is by Daniel Pemberton (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”).

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Weed Road/Safehouse Pictures Production, a Ritchie/Wigram Production, a Guy Ritchie film, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Slated for release on March 24, 2017, the film will be distributed in North America by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review From F.R.E.D.

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

I’d never seen The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV show, so I can’t tell you how well the movie captures the show. I’m up for a Guy Ritchie spy movie with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer though, and that was pretty good.

The film captures the “looking over your shoulder” feel of Cold War spy movies, with the Guy Ritchie Snatch energy. Intercutting picks up the pace, subtitles interact with the scene but Napoleon Solo (Cavill) remains cool throughout it all. It’s almost musical choreography, and it is all set to music so the analogy is somewhat overt.

It’s not James Bond. This is clearly looking back at Cold War, but it’s at least once removed. James Bond, even at its goofiest, was always sincere. U.N.C.L.E. is maybe turning these spies into idyllic caricatures, but it’s not irreverent. Even the bumbling is really cool bumbling.

U.N.C.L.E. delivers the action, more than I imagine a ‘60s TV show could have been, but in that Guy Ritchie way I described. The point isn’t the spectacle, it’s how much can they pretend there’s not a big spectacle happening, often keeping it in the background. The focus in the foreground is on something more civil. Without sound effects or a bombastic score, it creates an entirely subtle effect. The stunts are just as big as the competitive summer blockbusters, but stand out for their downplayed context. There is a considerable amount of shakycam, so that’s modern, but it’s mostly intelligible. At least, if something is obscured it is for effect.

Elizabeth Debicki and Henry Cavill in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Elizabeth Debicki and Henry Cavill in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Hammer does an impeccable Russian accent, as Cavill does an American one. The one-upmanship between Solo and his Russian counterpart Kuyakin (Hammer) is fun. There’s a slinky villainess, and you can still see Cavill’s Superman muscles under his linen shirt.

The point is clearly to do more Man from U.N.C.L.E. movies and I had a good enough time with this that I would be on board for a franchise. A series of historical spy movies with Cavill being suave ought to have a good future.