King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, directed by Guy Ritchie, is a film that does not skimp on style. A quick, witty editing style, music that elevates every moment it is a part of, and action that is exciting to watch; King Arthur is undoubtedly a well-made film, from a cinematic standpoint. However the film has the big issue of being all style and no substance. With characters that lack individuality and a story that is predictable; the film undoubtedly struggles to offer anything new or narratively memorable. And so that leaves me to wonder: Is the film’s bombastic, fun, exciting and rewarding to look at style, enough to make this summer blockbuster experience, one worth seeing? Well, let’s find out through this review, shall we.
Arthur – played by Charlie Hunnam – is born to be king, but has that honour taken from him by, Vortigern – played be Jude Law – who murders his father and takes the throne for himself. Arthur must at that point start from the slums of the city and work up to the point where he can take the sword out from the stone. Only then can he start upon the path to reclaiming what is rightfully his, and avenging his murdered parents.
Guy Ritchie is great at what he does; he is a director who can instil a sense of fun and excitement into almost anything. He has an ability to bring things to life in a way that stands out and makes itself noticed. And that is what this film does, in terms of its presentation.
From the very first scene, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword makes itself known; a vast battle scene with elements that catch the eye, a score that amps up the energy, and then a host of moments that are genuinely exciting to watch. The film immediately took a hold of my attention and then never let it waver.
After that big, eye-catching opening, the film never lamented, it utilised every tool in its box to keep things big, noticeable and lively. The element that stood out the most to me was the wonderfully humorous and fast paced editing. This is very much a Guy Ritchie style of editing; where scenes rest on top of one another, and despite them being scenes of two different points in time, they still weave into one another and help to tell the story. It is smart, because what it does is make things fast and engaging, thus you can effortlessly understand what is happening and it never feels boring or slow.
And that is something that, Legend of the Sword achieves throughout; it never slows down, it doesn’t waste any time on drawn out exposition or scenes where characters sit around and chat for 10 minutes. It is always moving and it always has something to do. I feel that if the film had allowed for things to slow down, then the overall experience would be one that I wasn’t so enamoured by – it doesn’t have the level of content to really allow itself to slow down.
And so conventional scenes have that Guy Ritchie flair, which makes them entertaining and easy to digest, and then you also have action sequences, which continue with the established style that it has chosen, but of course they are of a scale that is crazy and really fun to watch. Then add to those fast-paced, crazy moments, a score that just makes everything more than it already is. I think more than anything in this film, the score might have been one of my favourite elements… well except maybe the editing, which is so blatant in its execution, that I couldn’t help but love it.
So all that is great and it absolutely kept me entertained throughout. I won’t deny that, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword had me completely hooked by all its big, silly, quick action set-pieces etc.
But, and it is a big but; the film is completely lacking in any meaningful substance, and I mean any. Let’s take the man who graces the title, Arthur. He is a wise cracking lad, who schemes his way through most things, until he has to start throwing some punches, and even then it barely causes his composure to waver. Arthur always comes out on top, he always has a witty retort and you never once fear he is in any real danger. And while that is certainly entertaining to watch, it does mean that he never feels like an individual or someone who feels like a genuine person; he was a character, a bigger than life character who lacked depth.
In fact, the same can be said for everyone in the film. Arthur’s men, the people by his side, wise cracking with him, are much like their leader; people who lack individuality or traits that make them feel like genuine people with layers and substance. Other than Arthur, I couldn’t tell you any of their names or specific characteristics that make them stand out.
Even the villain in the film, Vortigern, is very one note. Jude Law gives a decent performance and I have seen him in many other things where I’ve really liked what he brought to the production (his performance in ‘The Young Pope’ being a prime example) but in this he is given a character, that like everyone else, lacks depth. Vortigern is evil for the sake of being evil, he never shows other sides of him; he never felt fleshed out in a way that made him feel like an actual person. He simply felt like a caricature of any of the schlocky villains you see in films of this scale.
But oddly, I was never bothered by these very obvious issues, because the film does such a good job of distracting you with loud, shiny things. I am not ashamed to admit that the tricks that were used to make the film seem more than it actually is (if you look beyond the surface layer) all worked on me.
I mean, you have a plot that is so basic that you will never be surprised by anything. The film never throws a twist your way, it never pulls the rug out from under your feet, leaving you shocked at the direction it has taken the film. Everything moves forward as expected. But that doesn’t mean that how it goes about doing it isn’t fun or isn’t entertaining, because it is.
I mean, when I first saw the trailer for this film, my initial response was, “I’ll pass.” But with come convincing from a friend and my love of Guy Ritchie films, I decided to give it a show. And I am surprised with how enjoyable I found this film and the experience it offered. It isn’t a film I’ll probably think much of after finishing this review, but I don’t lament my decision to see it or the time I spent with it.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is certainly lacking in the finer details. As I said earlier (and I think this review makes obvious) it is all style and no substance. However, the style in the film is an absolute treat to look at. Guy Ritchie is no slouch when it comes to delivering a big, fun, tent-pole experience. And that is what, Legend of the Sword is, an experience; a film perfect for the summer blockbuster season, where you can go with a group of friends, take in an easily digestible experience, and leave feeling satisfied with the fun times that the film has offered you.
And so I will be recommending, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Despite its many obvious failings, I was never bored by this film. I never felt that I wasn’t entertained or that my time was being wasted. In the end, I had fun and left with a smile on my face. And sometimes that’s all you need from a film watching experience.
I’d love to know what you thought of the film, and my review. So feel free to leave any feedback or opinions in the comments down below. Also, why not give my blog a wee follow or hop on over to my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings and give that a wee follow? Wouldn’t that be swell? Anyway, thank you so much for reading my review and I hope you liked it enough to return.