This one’s worth checking out.

Do you want a wizard’s duel? Look further.

Guy Ritchie and the legend of King Arthur is not necessarily a mismatch, but I doubt he was permitted to be quite himself during the production of this particular Arthurian film. We know he is at his best when he creates off-the-wall crime comedies or the suchlike (I still regret not seeing U.N.C.L.E. when it came out), but it is easy to determine when the primary mission is to create another big-studio crowd-pleaser. His next film is the amazingly unnecessary Aladdin remake. I advise you to read my review of Beauty and the Beast as it is likely I will be forced to regurgitate the exact same complaints.

Jude Law as Vortigern.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starts on a prologue where everything except the disintegration of Krypton happens. We learn how Arthur Pendragon (played as an adult by Charlie Hunnam) was separated from his royal family as a child, Moses-style, to eventually be raised by a group of prostitutes. Arthur’s true father and the ruler of the Britons, King Uther (Eric Bana), has been killed by his scheming brother Vortigern, who secretly deals with forbidden forces. Vortigern is played by Jude Law, who occasionally sports an outfit that makes him look identical to one of the chess-players from the Age of Empires II opening cinematic. It’s the little things that make movies fun.

All grown up, Arthur is a street rat who solves his problems through combat and even gets uppity with a Viking played by Mikael Persbrandt, but surprise-surprise; his destiny beckons him. He meets Guinevere (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), a fearsome apprentice of the lost wizard Merlin, and Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), who once helmed his father’s armies. The two rescue him from being executed by Vortigern, who outs Arthur as the lost son of Uther Pendragon by bringing him to the location of an enigmatic sword that only the chosen one can raise from the stone in which it is trapped. We’re shown that Vortigern has been doing this with all the male citizens around Arthur’s age, which sounds like a hassle.

As with Warcraft: The Beginning, this film is largely concerned with supplying information about its own world and the creatures that inhabit it, all in time for the next soullessly over-the-top action scene with CGI elephants, one-liners, and deliberate anachronisms. Oh and slow-motion too. Never forget the slow-motion.

To be clear, the film is not entirely devoid of Ritchie’s usual treats. In terms of style and cheekiness, the job is well done, but there is nothing too remarkable about these characters. It may have helped if the movie took a breather and didn’t strive to be the most briskly paced bore ever made. Little time is spared for emotion and character, but they talk in modern accents, look like modern people, and are ethnically diverse enough to be “social justice friendly”, so I guess there’s that.

Speaking of relevant, Legend of the Sword was also intended, at least in part, as a commentary on modern-day politics in general. There are supposedly some biting Brexit allegories in here that I was, evidently, too distracted by video game imagery to notice. Furthermore, I am told that Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, worked as an executive producer on this picture. I wonder if he constantly had to be reminded that any and all Trump-esque politics depicted in King Arthur were done completely in reverence and totally non-sarcastically.

Anyway, the point: I am not too excited about this one and you’re not missing out on much if you see Alien: Covenant instead. As for Charlie Hunnam, I have never found him too riveting. I’m yet to see Sons of Anarchy, not that I presently plan on watching it, but he seems more a Hollywood hunk than anything else, which is why I’m still glad Pacific Rim was given life support in the form of rich side characters who are hopefully the main stars of the sequel. In this movie, well, I already told you how I feel about the other people we meet.

There are some good news, however. This is only the first movie in a planned series of six so I’m sure they will only get better and better with time. Is this what it’s come to, Ritchie? Oh well. Cheers!

2/5 whatever

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