King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword is Hollywood’s latest attempt to bring the classic tale of a magical sword and a boy robbed of his birthright. The last time the story of King Arthur was brought to the big screen it lacked magic, literally or figuratively in Antoine Fuqua 2004 effort that was supposedly more historically grounded. So, I was glad to see the return of wizards, warlocks and giant creatures with Guy Ritchie’s take on the tale of Excalibur.
The film opens with a spectacular battle for Camelot between the corrupt sorcerer Mordred and King Uther Pendragon. Arthur’s evil Uncle Vortigern murders his father and seizes the kingdom, Arthur is hidden and raised by prostitutes with no idea of his true identity. After the mysterious sword appears near Camelot, Vortigern knows that only the true heir can draw the sword from the stone. Thus he begins to order all men of Arthur’s age to try and pull the sword from its stone in order to lure out his estranged nephew.
The CGI action is breathtaking and brilliantly sets up this magical world from the opening battle. This high standard continues throughout the film only to be let down by the final fight that looked somewhat like a Playstation Game cut scene.
The script has Ritchies’ stamp all over it with some brilliant banter, which allows for some exposition to help the film move along at a rapid pace. The problem is that this rapid pace and choppy editing never lets the film take a breath and a lot of the magical world is glazed over and never explained. I think there is probably a 3-hour version of this film somewhere in the Warner Brother’s vault that would play much better.
After his awful acting in Pacific Rim Charlie Hunnam surprised me with his performance as Arthur, and you can see he put his all into the role. He looks the part, is handsome and obviously got buff for the role but pleasingly does more than just look good in this film. However, the best performances come from the supporting cast which is made up of some of the best and brightest including the always outstanding Neil Maskell as Backlack and Jude Law is perfectly evil as Vortigern and never overplaying or hamming it up.
This is far from a perfect film but there is a lot of fun to be had with this surprisingly enjoyable fast paced fantasy epic.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is out in NZ Cinemas now.
Reviewed by Ian Wright