King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review


By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

History is filled with stories from our earliest of ancestors. So long ago, it was these stories that were passed on to the new generations in order to carry on customs and beliefs, and understandings of why the world was that way it was. Once in a while, these stories of people, of deeds, or actions became the stuff of legend. And so it was with the story of King Arthur. Whether he was a real man or not has been debated, with strong, factual evidence hard to come by, but it is believed he was a leader who fought against Anglo-Saxon invaders. Stories of Arthur and his men have long been told, and their stories have graced both the small and big screens. However, none have quite told the story as Guy Ritchie does in his latest film, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

As war wages at the gates of Uther Pendragon’s (Eric Bana) kingdom, he fights off a powerful wizard to protect his country. However, when the realization of who is behind the conflict comes too late, Uther sacrifices himself to save his young son, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam). Arthur escapes, becoming an orphan and having to fend for himself on the streets. He grows up to be the leader of his own gang with his good friend Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), making a living by stealing and hustling. But soon his past comes calling when the legendary sword reveals itself. Pulling the sword from the stone declares Arthur as the true ruler, leaving the current ruler, Vortigern (Jude Law) none too happy. With the sword comes power, prestige, and hate. It will take all Arthur can muster, plus the help of a mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) to learn to control his power, learn about his past, and come to reality with what must be done in the future. It’s a lot for a kid who grew up in the streets, but what choice does he have?

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not your run-of-the-mill, Dark Ages, sword-and-shield action adventure. This is a Guy Ritchie film – which he directed and helped write – which means there will be an aura of flair, wit, and modern excitement thrown into these olden times. One of the first things that you’ll notice from the opening battle sequence is the stylistic approach, blending the sword-and-shield piece with the mysticism and magic we’ve come to expect from the wizards of this time. We have the typical quickened-pace action sequences, then the ultra-slow motion sequences as well, blending them in to make what would be considered a well-choreographed dance of visual imagery. The second thing you’ll find different for such a film is the dialogue and pace therein. Ritchie has a way of putting together rapid-fire dialogue with flashbacks and fast-forwards, rewinding when needed and getting back to present time all with a wonderful knack of creativity and fun. Just the dialogue and delivery alone are pure enjoyment in a couple of scenes.

But that dialogue is only words on a page if not for the actors forming the characters and delivering them in a manner that fits the time era as well as vision for the film. Personally, I have never been a big Hunnam fan, feeling his film work has been lackluster, but the role of Arthur is one he fits into very nicely given the world Ritchie crafts for him. Hunnam can play those rugged, bad boy characters, and that’s exactly what he is here. He’s a street kid being thrust into a position unfamiliar to him…or is it? Bana has a much smaller role in the film than may be expected from the trailers, but brings a fatherly nature to the role. Law as Vortigern is that bad guy you want to see have a painful ending to his life, yet outside of what he portrays on the exterior, once he becomes King he is a shaky and uncertain man who is doing what he feels needs to be done to hold on to what he feels is his. It’s a common theme for bad guys and Law plays it well. Lastly, Hounsou plays the supporting role as well as to be expected.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not the King Arthur you’ve come to expect in theaters, and, for the most part, is a very good thing. It provides a new spin, a new telling of the classic tale with fresh direction. It blends action, drama, and comedy, which all combine to provide a great overall experience. The final battle is perhaps a little over the top and stretches our belief farther than should be requested, even given this film, but for the sake of fun and storytelling, we can allow these things to slide. Whether or not you’re a fan of Guy Ritchie, Charlie Hunnam, or King Arthur stories, if you give the film a chance, you’ll find yourself enjoying the two-hour romp through the Dark Ages.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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