Did cockneys exist in the 5th century? In Guy Ritchie's mind they did, and King Arthur was one of them. Not just that, but Arthur also acted a lot like the characters from Ritchie's previous work, too, as he strutted and hustled his way through the streets of Londinium, all without realizing his royal lineage.
You see, with King Arthur, rather than being over-reverential to the legendary mythical tale, Guy Ritchie makes the classic story bend to his whims and style. And you'll be grateful that he does, too, as the co-writer and director brings the same brash vibrancy to King Arthur that has always made his work, for the most part, so hugely enjoyable to watch.
In fact, it's not too much of a stretch to describe King Arthur as Lord Of The Rings meets Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. Guy Ritchie never gives you a moment's rest in his cheeky journey through the middle ages, and while he loses control of the beast from time to time, King Arthur is ultimately as eye-catching and entertaining as it is ridiculous. Which is saying a lot.
King Arthur opens up on Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) in battle against a powerful and mythical enemy, which he manages to defeat, only to then be betrayed by his own brother, Jude Law's Vortigern. During this kerfuffle, which results in the death of Uther Pendragon and his wife, he manages to put his son in a boat to safety, and the rightful heir to the crown soon finds himself in the hustle and bustle of Londinium.
Raised in a brothel, Arthur is unaware of his heritage. Then, around 20 years later, the water outside the King's castle recedes to expose the sword of Excalibur in a stone, and whoever is able to pull it out will be revealed as royalty. Arthur is able to do just that, but he struggles with the power and influence of the borderline sentient sword, while he's also taken on-board by the Resistance, who together set out to defeat Vortigern so that Arthur can take his rightful place on the throne.
What you need to know about King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword is that Guy Ritchie doesn't give you a moment's rest to be bored. It's full pelt stuff, which at times is somewhat of a detriment to proceedings, especially since, in all honesty, by the film's end, I was unable to precisely explain how and what had just transpired, as the final sequence in particular is rather hectic. But for the most part, though, you're left happy and joyful at just how outrageous a spectacle the film is, as Guy Ritchie makes sure sure that the special effects heavy blockbuster, which are seamlessly integrated, still has a swagger and drive that you just can't take your eyes off of. In many ways Ritchie is becoming the more palatable Zack Snyder. But while he has the visual style and irreverence of Zack Snyder, and like the Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice director is able to fathom up a striking shot and image, Guy Ritchie also deploys a humor and light-heartedness that makes his approach just that little bit more endearing and charming.
Sure, Guy Ritchie probably goes a little overboard with the montages, but one of these, which sees Arthur and his pals retelling a story to the local law enforcement Jack's Eye (Michael McElhatton), is already right up there for me as one of the scenes of the year. It is silly and beguiling, all while also being outrageously entertaining. Despite being slightly repetitive, even the other montages serve a purpose, as they inject a pace and zippiness to King Arthur and save it from tying itself up in knots.
Meanwhile you can sense and feel just how much fun the cast is having. Jude Law is sublime as the deliciously evil Vortigern. Charlie Hunnam is towering as King Arthur, and emanates a power and charm that you want from your leading man, as he's able to sell the action, comedy, internal conflict, and drama in his scenes with ease, while the supporting cast of Aidan Gillen, Djimon Hounsou, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Neil Maskell each chime in impressively, too. It's just a shame for me to admit that after bringing so much joy to me over the years on the football field that David Beckham is responsible for not just the worst moment of the film, but probably one of the worst cameos in cinema history. He's as wooden as the goal posts that his free kicks used to effortlessly fly between.
But even that disappointment, and King Arthur's flailing attempts to keep its audience hooked in its final act, isn't enough to stop you from leaving with a smile on your face. Sure, you're left wondering what you just witnessed, but that doesn't make it any less fun.
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