Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Jude Law
When I was a teenager, my brother in law introduced me to the works of british writer/director Guy Ritchie by showing me his 2000 breakout hit Snatch. He's dabbled in almost every genre since then, but always managed to maintained his own signature sense of film-making. Ever since my first experience with his work I can honestly say I've enjoyed every film of his that I have seen and he's become one of my favorite directors of all time. So when the reviews started to come in for his latest film, a new take on the legend of King Arthur, and were almost all negative, I have to say I was a bit worried. So how does Ritchie's newest film stack of to his other works? Has he finally made a film I won't enjoy? Lets dive right in and find out!
This new take on the "Arthur" legend sees him growing up on the mean streets of Londinium unknowingly robbed of his rightful place on the throne by his evil uncle Vortigern. Happy to make his living running his street gang he is suddenly thrust into the middle of the resistance when he pulls a certain sword from a certain stone and threatens to finally take his rightful place as king.
Well I have to say after seeing "Legend of the Sword" it has only further cemented my belief in critics. That is to say I have none. I came out of this movie with a gigantic grin on my face having loved almost every minute of it. Now of course I'm biased because I love all things "Ritchie" related but honestly those other critics are too. They seem to all have wanted the same old retelling of the story. You see the problem is that Ritchie is well known for "style over substance". He loves quick cuts and inventive camera work, his dialogue is snappy and dripping with cool, but theres never a whole lot of substance or real drama behind it all. He makes movies with one objective in mind: to entertain you. I might get some flack for this next statement, but he is what Quentin Tarantino would be if Tarantino was on speed for a production. Thats not to say that I think he's any better or worse then Quentin. Just that they have a similar "style over substance" way of film-making. The thing is though Ritchie loves to give you a movie with a break neck pace as apposed to Q's very methodical one. This movie is no exception. All the Ritchie tropes are on display and for me they worked magnificently. It's like he sat down and thought: You know I'd love to make an homage to 1980's "sword & sorcery" flicks but give it my own twist by making Arthur a hooligan. It is such a fresh exciting take on the characters and honestly is something we've never seen before. In a summer full of sequels and by the numbers adaptations, I'm baffled at the hate this movie has received. The acting in it is all mostly top notch, with the low point being Astrid Berges-Frisbey's performance. She gets a bit of a pass though seeing as english is definitely not her first language. Charlie Hunnam continues to surprise and delight me as he is absolutely pitch perfect as this new rough and tumble take on Arthur, and Jude Law gives us one of the best on screen villains of the year as his usurping uncle Vortigern. The special effects are all extremely imaginative and the final battle is something straight from the cover of an 80's metal album cover or a mural painted on the side of a panel van. On top of all this though is Daniel Pemberton's musical score. It is truly one of the most original and inventive scores I have ever heard in film and carries the movie beautifully. I'll even go so far as to say this movie might even show up in my Top 5 of the year list at the end of 2017.
Now does this mean I am right and the other critics are wrong? Not necessarily, but I have to say you shouldn't ever take what anyone has to say about a movie as the absolute truth. Myself most definitely included. So should you stop reading reviews all together? No. (Especially keep reading mine. I need the views for my ego....Tell your friends.) What you should do is this: read between the lines. Never take the final verdict of a review as wether or not you should see a movie. See what the person has to say about what goes on in the film and if that sounds like a good time to you then go see it! You might just find yourself enjoying and endlessly quoting a movie that everyone else seemed to hate.
Trivia from IMDB for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword:
Charlie Hunnam said that he closely observed Ultimate Fighting Championship Irish featherweight Conor McGregor to incorporate his fighting style and his ultra-ripped physique into his portrayal of a young "street" version of Arthur. Hunnam watched hours and hours of interviews and fight footage of McGregor on YouTube because he thought he would be an interesting model for the character.
Maciej Kwiatkowski, Wojciech Roguski and Slawomir Kurek from Prime Fury Stunt Team, the same team that did all motion captures for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) game, did the motion capture stunts, performance and fight choreography.
Charlie Hunnam was emaciated and had lost twenty pounds for the last season of Sons of Anarchy (2008). During auditions, director Guy Ritchie was very bothered by his look, though he liked his performance, and asked him four times during the process about his poor physique and what was the heaviest he had been. Hunnam said that when Ritchie brought up the fourth time, he knew that the physicality of Arthur was very important to Ritchie. He promised him that he would get into incredible shape for Arthur and to prove his fitness for the part and even offered to physically fight the other two finalists, Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney. Hunnam told Ritchie, "Look, dude, you keep bringing this up, the physicality. It's obviously your primary concern. So if you want to do away with all this auditioning bollocks, I'll f***ing fight those other two dudes. I know who they are. You can bring them both in here. I'll fight them both. The one who walks out the door gets the job." Hunnam won the role after this.