Chase Charaba, Editor-in-Chief
For a movie that Warner Bros. had hoped would be the first installment in a six-film franchise, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword didn’t meet the expectations of filmgoers and critics. The film tanked at the box office and made far less than projections.
According to Variety, the film had a production cost of nearly $175 million, but it debuted with only $18 million at the box office. The film is doing better in countries like Russia and Germany, but it may not make enough worldwide to break even with the costs.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword stars Charlie Hunnam (from Sons of Anarchy) as Arthur, Astrid Berges-Frisbey as the mage, Djimon Hounsou as Sir Vendivere, Aiden Gillen as Goosefat Bill and Jude Law as Vortigern.
The film is an interesting take on the King Arthur legend and certainly didn’t deserve to flop at the box office, but it wasn’t anything spectacular either.
The film follows Arthur as he grows up in a brothel in Londinium and when he gets rounded up along with hundreds of other males to try his hand at Excalibur, the sword in the stone at Camelot. Once it’s revealed that Arthur can retrieve the sword and is the “born-king,” the journey begins for Arthur and his companies to fight Vortigern and allow Arthur to ascend the throne that’s rightfully his.
As a huge Hunnam fan, expectations were extremely high for this film. After months of anticipating its release, when it came to finally see it those expectations were left high and dry.
The movie opened with a massive battle scene reminiscent of many other successful epic fantasy films. It even had massive elephants besieging Camelot, which seemed like a sloppy attempt at recreating the battle of Pelennor in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, where the Haradrim ride massive elephants toward the Gondorian capital of Minas Tirith. This scene had all it needed to be epic: magic, armies battling it out on a bridge, betrayal and lots of destruction.
However, the scene was so CG intensive that it looked more like a video game than a movie. Not a good first impression for a movie that was supposed to be a summer blockbuster.
This CG style plays out more than once throughout the two-hour film, popping up again every time there’s a battle scene or Arthur uses his magic sword. These are the lowest points of the movie.
Scenes like the one showing Arthur growing up are masterfully created and help to offset some of the bad scenes in the film. Most of the scenes are incredibly well done with beautiful scenery, great acting from Hunnam and good pacing.
Early in the movie, there’s an edited sequence where Arthur encounters obstacles in the Dark Lands in order to discover himself and the power behind the sword and what he must do. It’s condensed to just a few minutes when it really should have been expanded. This is the type of pivotal scene where the film could’ve shown Arthur’s growth and turmoil, which would’ve allowed the audience to connect with his character better. The film skips out on these opportunities that could have made it drastically better.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was unexpectedly funny and lighthearted at times, though the attempts at jokes were unnecessary and forced, which helped audiences connect with the characters. However, this isn’t a replacement for the often poor character development.
The film needed more action scenes (without the over-the-top editing) and storytelling. The plot wasn’t set up well, and it seemed like every scene hyped the audience up to the final battle, where Arthur would finally battle Vortigern. This is great, expect that the final battle wasn’t spectacular and only lasted for a few minutes.
If it weren’t for being a Hunnam fan, this movie wouldn’t have been appealing enough to go see. The King Arthur story has been done and redone too many times. There can only be so many movies where the main character pulls Excalibur from the stone and has to do some great deed or reclaim the kingdom.
An original script not based on the legend of King Arthur would have better suited Hunnam and the rest of the cast, and it might have intrigued a wider audience.
Overall the film was great and definitely worth seeing again, although probably not in theaters. It had great moments where it could have been the movie of the year, and others that held it back too much.
The film won’t appeal to those who don’t enjoy epic fantasy films and it may not do enough to draw the fantasy crowd in either. Still, it’s a movie that had a lot of potential to be more in its sequels, which probably won’t happen now.
I give this 3.5/5
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