It could just be the biggest summer blockbuster box-office bomb of all-time – after taking a measly $15m in its opening weekend Stateside on a $175m budget – but Guy Ritchie’s misfire at least has a few pretty fireworks.
After Antoine Fuqua’s messy 2004 incarnation took a curveball religious route, Ritchie tries to ‘Sherlock Holmes-ify’ the Arthurian legend with a contemporary urban feel – complete with modern ‘Lock Stock’ cockney lingo – set around supernatural elements.
But while the camaraderie aspects are one of the more pleasing components of this medieval adventure – with a likeable Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim) as the amiable headline character – the giant elephants and snakes just seem shoehorned in to leave it a bit of jumbled mess.
Hunnam’s legendary swordsman is brought up the hard way in the back alleys of Londinium after being robbed of his birthright by his uncle Vortigern (Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes star Jude Law), who murdered his King (Eric Bana) and Queen parents and stole the crown to take the monarchy as his own.
After being raised in a brothel for most of his life, Arthur is blissfully unaware of this until he pulls the infamous sword from the stone that forces him to acknowledge his legacy – and joins a rebellion that includes a mysterious Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), expert arrowsman Bill (Aiden Gillen), and his father’s old ally warrior Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) to take on Vortigern’s tyranny.
Ritchie goes to great lengths to add his trademark wit and stylised touches to proceedings, but with this veering too far from the traditions of the legend it ends up being more Dungeons and Dragons than King Arthur – despite always staying the right side of watchable throughout.
The problem is, did anyone really want King Arthur to be a new intellectual movie property in the first place? Whoever gave this the green-light to spend hundreds of millions on it deserves to be fired – because Ritchie, Hunnam and Law were up against it right from the start.
It might resonate a bit better with British audiences than the rest of the world, but with no real identity this blockbuster was always going to be ‘dead on arrival’ which is a hell of a shame – particularly for Hunnam who is struggling to pick a major film that actually makes money to propel him to potential A-list stardom.
If you fancy something a little different come the weekend, then there’s enough of an enjoyability factor here to make this an unconventional popcorn muncher.
It’s just unfortunate that when they start building the round table for the knights at the end of the film – you know it’s never going to be finished.
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Berges-Frisby, Eric Bana, Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen, Neil Maskell, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Freddie Fox, Craig Mcginlay, Tom Wu, Annabelle Wallis, Geoff Bell & David Beckham.
Running Time: 2 Hrs 6 Mins
Director: Guy Ritchie
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