“Something doesn’t smell right.”
The brash, combative, utterly unfunny King Arthur: Legend of the Sword reads as the embodiment of the above quote. It’s the crimson tainted hunk of beef hanging on behind the butcher’s counter that’s about to spoil. It’s the rosy pink, opaque, fishy smelling slab of tuna steak that’s been pumped full of carbon monoxide to trick the naive into believing it’s fresh from the sea. Many meat purveyors utilize this deception and malpractice as a means of reducing waste and improving revenue. Not only is this deceitful, but such con-artistry is downright dangerous for consumers. And so is the latest iteration of King Arthur, a putrid and foul film that I hated from the minute it started. You shouldn’t – and couldn’t – even serve such scraps to the dogs.
Few movies in recent memory have been so damn overloaded. King Arthur is full of disastrous CGI, boring back story, careless world-building, and character development stuck in a ricochet effect of repetition. Quite simply, the picture has far too much going on and its biggest detriment is that it lacks any tactful awareness to realize its own Golden Corral level of overindulgence. For that reason I’m going to graze over this broad pasture of a plot, which you can either submit yourself to for 2+ hours in the cinema or just read online via Wikepedia. Either way the effect is similar. We aren’t left satisfied or with that bang-for-your-buck feeling; instead we bumble around like the bloated blueberry girl from Willy Wonka without any of the color or the oddity from the Oompa Loompas to roll us out the gates. Apparently finding a Golden Ticket is more difficult than pulling a sword from a stone.
The young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is introduced as a medieval Moses, raised by prostitutes and taught to street fight. Arthur is, in layman’s terms, the Camelot era’s mixture of both the embattled Batman and the affluent Bruce Wayne with two personas clashing inside one skull. He doesn’t make much sense as a character despite Charlie Hunnam’s devoted performance in this dumb grey area of assumed nobility and stature. Here, the top of the pillar is only allowed to fall so far before he pulls the sword from its bentonite sheath. Arthur becomes a veteran in a sea of sword-pulling virgins, a monolithic figure to be worshiped and held on high. The masses soon follow his prodigious path in hopes of dethroning his duplicitous Uncle Vortigern (Jude Law). King Arthur is a misfired shot meant to draw interest in this deep mythology whilst simultaneously remaining unconverted and unestablished. This main course is a vagrant still in search of its roots.
Behind all of this sorely miscalculated madness is a cemetery of more story, more characters, and more disconnected tangents better left six feet under. Lick this envelope a dozen times over and you’ll go 0/12 while trying to hide its problems before they’re easily uncovered. All of this might sound harsh, but that’s because Guy Ritchie has made a film bound to his kinetic style, servicing his own directorial flair rather than adjusting and adapting to the story at hand. Almost all of the film is pure exposition rapidly edited against incongruous and confusing action, belittling the dramatic stakes in favor of a futile attempt at funny fodder. There are two films in theaters starring Charlie Hunnam (run to see The Lost City of Z), and King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword is most definitely the ugly duckling lost to poor marketing and even worse cinematic execution.
“You’re all over the place.”
Rating: 1 out of 5