Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Review: KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (2017)
The big-screen reboot of KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD tells the origin story of young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), who grew up in the back streets of Londinium before discovering his own fate after successfully pulling the magic sword Excalibur out of the stone. This prompted Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur's villainous uncle who is responsible for his father Uther's (Eric Bana) death, to order an execution against him. However, the plan fails when a nameless mage (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) manages to save his life. Soon, Arthur joins her alongside other resistance fighters including Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) and Goosefat Bill (Aiden Gillen of TV's Game of Thrones) in a revolutionary quest to dethrone Vortigern.
REVIEW: Before I begin my review, I have zero expectation with Warner Bros.' expensive reboot of KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD. The trailers hardly impress me to mark this as a "must-see" list, while the movie's major reshuffle from its original date of July 2016 to February 2017 and finally to this month, doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Besides, last time Hollywood tries to make a big-budget King Arthur blockbuster (remember the 2004 version directed by Antoine Fuqua?) was met with mostly negative responses and failed to set the box-office on fire.
But surprisingly, KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD doesn't end up as rotten as I thought in the first place. With Guy Ritchie at the helm, he approaches the age-old King Arthur story like he did in his first two SHERLOCK HOLMES movies. Traditionalists might baulk at Guy Ritchie's take since KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD is largely repurposed as a contemporary version set in the medieval era. Ritchie's showy direction is all intact here, such as his penchant for flash-forward montage evidently seen during Arthur's growing-up process from a child to an adult, along with his frantic use of quick cuts and slow motion. Kudos also go to Daniel Pemberton, whose thumping music score matches well with Ritchie's razzle-dazzle filmmaking style.
Ritchie also made good use of his cast, beginning with Charlie Hunnam's charismatic turn as the rebellious Arthur. He looks amazingly ripped and shows great physicality during the movie's action scenes ranging from fisticuffs to swordfights. Best of all, he finally proves his worth as a Hollywood leading man who can pull off a satisfying mix of humorous and dramatic role. The rest of the cast is equally effective, even for Eric Bana's cameo appearance as Arthur's doomed father, Uther.
Now, for the movie's shortcomings. While Ritchie's bold attempt of infusing his trademark sense of humour into an otherwise dramatic King Arthur story does have its own charming moments, some of his narrative approaches tend to be haphazard. For instance, the prologue is particularly executed in a superficial manner, as he alongside co-writers Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram gives little room for establishment between Vortigern and Uther's shaky relationship as brothers. Given the fact that Jude Law does look the part playing a remorseless role as Vortigern, it's a shame he is nothing more than a one-dimensional antagonist.
Then there is Ritchie's decision of casting David Beckham (yes, that David Beckham) in a cameo role. I wouldn't mind if Beckham is featured in a Guy Ritchie's movie, say, a modern-day gangster genre. But his appearance coupled with his high-pitched voice really ruined the otherwise pivotal moment where Arthur is about to pull the legendary Excalibur sword out of the stone.
It's definitely far from a great movie, but KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD remains a worthy reboot that is both fresh and entertaining.