King Arthur: Legend of The Sword is not a bad movie.
This is the first thing that I wanted to get out of the way because critics really beat it down worse than Lesnar beatdown Mir. It really doesn’t deserve a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Not that Guy Ritchie movies are famous for being critics friendly. The highest rated is Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels which stands at 76%, above Snatch. And apart from the two Sherlock Holmes flicks, his work is not commercial either.
Of course, this King Arthur adaptation was supposed to be the director’s ultimate work, as it was going to spark a 6 part franchise. Needless to say that because of the disappointing Box Office the story won’t continue.
In a way, this film suffers the pathologic concept of the first chapter (if you know you’re going to have sequels): set up a world then tell a story, not the other way around. The result is that the characters are not as detailed as they should be.
Luckily, both Arthur and Vortigern (the villain) are treated well enough, so their ‘feud’ works.
But, apart from the side characters being kind of flat, what’s wrong with this film?
As a filmmaker myself, I find really hard to justify such low ratings, which makes me question the professionality of critics themselves.
Last year I sided with them for Batman v Superman, as the movie use of easter egg was too much entangled with plot points (a film critic, as the large audience, doesn’t know Batman/Superman comic book mythology).
However, this time around I was left speechless from the response.
King Arthur: Legend of The Sword is a Ritchie movie more so than the two Sherlock Holmes. The Arthurian flick was originally pitched as Snatch meets Lord of The Rings, and the movie lives up to this concept.
The style, both in script and visuals, is constant and coherent (which actually was another issue with Batman v Superman), as the cinematography result splendid both with natural shots and CGI filled ones. The well-choreographed action keeps the pace going, helped with a beautiful soundtrack from Daniel Pemberton.
The actual drawbacks are two, one subjective and one pretty objective.
The actual, objective drawback is the overuse of montages. While the Growing Up In Londinium one is pretty awesome and by the books (should be used as an example in film schools, I kid you not), they keep coming. Most of them are acceptable, the trip in the Dark Lands might have worked more with linear narration rather than an intercutting montage, and this consideration fits also when the Lady In The Lake (or at least she is the one the movie hints to) gives him Excalibur back before the final showdown.
The other, more subjective one, is an opinion that I don’t actually have but I see a lot of people having an issue with it, is the very modern take on the Arthurian legend. While to me it’s clear that video games influenced the film (above all, Dark Souls and Bloodborne), Guy Ritchie took magic to a whole another level compared to Excalibur and the BBC TV Show Merlin, the latter really magic filled.
This time around Excalibur grants Arthur some badass, destructive powers. The scenes are really awesome to watch but I can see more seasoned viewers might have something against it. In addition, one of the enemies looks like a Dark Souls boss, both in look and powers. Again, even though I’m not a fan of Miyazaki’s games (I admit they are too difficult, they become frustrating), I’m totally for it, but, again, older viewers might found it as nonsensical over-the-top trash.
In the end, King Arthur: Legend of The Sword is one of the most personally styled blockbusters this year, and that is a good accomplishment. Unluckily, the critics didn’t think so and the movie is tanking, despite the audience is actually digging it (7.3 on IMDB, 7.8 on Metacritic and 7.7 on Rotten Tomatoes), which might have Warner at least discussing the possibility of giving this another chance.
I don’t think it’s going to happen, but one man can always hope.