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So then, why all the negative reviews?
Sure, it has Charlie Hunnam – that guy from Sons of Anarchy who talks really slow but has great abs which Bev and Kelly appreciated.
Sure, it has that typical Guy Ritchie kinetic editing style that he does so much in his movies, it’s now a cliche even when he does it.
Sure, it has the weird cockney gangster accents that are prevalent in Guy Ritchie films, ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, and Rock’n’Rolla.
Sure, Jude Law just pouts and frowns throughout the whole film.
And sure, it has a few actors from Game of Thrones that makes you think that you’re actually watching an episode of Game of Thrones.
And to top it all off – it has David Beckham! (Ok, maybe it does warrant all the bad reviews).
But it ain’t that bad.
After seeing this film bomb spectacularly in the box-office in the last couple of weeks (Film review website Rotten Tomatoes giving it only 28%) I really wasn’t expecting much from this movie at all as I watched it at a packed Embassy Theatre last Sunday afternoon.
And to my surprise… I quite enjoyed it.
And I can’t pinpoint why.
Maybe because it’s a slightly better film than the Clive Owen and Keira Knightley film King Arthur which was made in 2004. That film took a more historical approach – after evidence suggested that Arthur was a Roman Officer instead of a medieval knight.
The 2004 film totally steered away from the legend of the ‘Sword in the Stone’ (called Excalibur) which I feel, is the most important thread that makes up the magical myth of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
At least Guy Ritchie’s film riffs on this aspect – making Arthur, (even though he can take the sword from the stone), throughout the film he has to learn to control its power. I thought that story thread worked well – so when he finally controls Excalibur in the last act – he goes all Jedi Knight on the enemy and kicks some major medieval ass.
Maybe it was the great opening sequence – where the always reliable Aussie actor Eric Bana (playing Arthur’s father King Uther Pendragon) proves his mettle by conquering a deadly sorcerer with a battle that steals the elephants from The Lord Of The Rings (On a side note, Eric Bana should be a Jedi Knight/ Rebel Fighter Pilot in the next Star Wars film).
Maybe it was the fast editing sequence showing how a young Arthur grows up living in a brothel, earning his keep, hustling and learning to become the next Bruce Lee by training with martial artists – and showing off his muscle-bound body (again – much to the delight of Kelly and Bev).
I can see the critics would’ve been put off by Hunnam’s portrayal of Arthur – brought up as a street wise smart larrakin with a gift of the gab and saying ‘mate’ like he was having a beer with his ‘mates’ – who are a gang of geezers with cockney accents who look like punks rather than Knights of the Round Table.
Wearing a costume and a bomber leather jacket like he had just come out of the Battle of Britain in WW2 (see above picture), and sporting a nice fade haircut straight out of the barbers – I can see film critics tearing their hair out. But I found all this quite charming. It certainly was different. Also the appearance of well-known Game of Thrones actors such as Aiden Gillen (who plays Baelish in GOT) funningly enough, gave the film a bit more cred. If only a little.
You can tell Guy Ritchie and all the actors had a lot of fun with the re-telling of this tale of Camelot (I mean David Beckham is in the film for goodness sake). They probably had too much fun. And it’s obvious the film critics didn’t take the joke – one top film critic calling it a piece of ‘Shite’. It’s definitely not the worst film this year. ‘5O Shades Darker’ has that mantle.
Maybe Guy Ritchie (and the movie studio) are trying to re-boot the King Arthur story with a new spin on the Camelot tale (there was talk that this is one of six films). Maybe this version of Arthur with it’s fast paced action was to re-introduce this old age character for a new age millennial generation. As a result – it’s pissed off a whole lot of film critics, and the Millennials just can’t be bothered with it at all – unless the movie was shortened and viewed on Snapchat.
When it comes to films about King Arthur, for me, EXCALIBUR (1981) directed by John Boorman is still the one to beat. Even though it’s a flawed film, it’s heart is in the right place bringing the epic grandeur, magic and sorcery of the legend of King Arthur onto the big screen.
If Guy Ritchie did away with his fast paced editing toys and gangster banter, and actually made a grand sweeping epic that suited the subject matter – like in the manner of John Boorman’s ‘Excalibur’ then maybe he wouldn’t have taken such a harsh beating from critics with this film. Perhaps.
As a complete re-telling of the King Arthur tale it manages to fall short, but as a fantasy action film it strikes a few telling blows and as a piece of entertainment – it works.