Last night, I went to see the new Guy Ritchie film, “King Arthur – Legend of the Sword“. It is, to be charitable, a bit of a mess.
I wasn’t expecting high-art, or a high-brow version of the Arthurian Legends – it’s a Guy Ritchie film, so anyone expecting that would be sorely disappointed anyway. But I was expecting a Guy Ritchie film – a significant portion of silliness, snappy and smart dialogue, and some impressive visuals/shots. This is the man who brought us “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Snatch”, “Sherlock Holmes” (and its sequel) and “The Man From Uncle” – all of which qualify on all those things, and all of which I like.
But this one… well.
It’s got silliness – but in this case it veers more towards the ridiculous. Yes, ridiculous even within the pantheon of Arthurian stuff. The mage-driven war-elephants larger than mountains were a particular “high” point in this. But at least they were visually impressive. Which leads me to…
Visuals – it’s got some gloriously shot scenes and set-pieces. But the rest is a mess. Even some of those setpieces, there’s just too much going on for it to make sense. It needs to convey the speed and fury and chaos of battle – and in some ways I guess it does that, as no-one has any fucking clue what’s going on. But it’s also a film, and you should be able to at least see what’s happening. There are bits that are visually brilliant, but then the rest just detracts from those pieces.
Dialogue – it’s got it. But again, like the silliness, it feels forced, and it doesn’t fit with the characters, or the time. There are a couple of larger pieces that are definitely meant to be “Lock, Stock and Broadsword”, but they simply don’t work, even with snappy camerawork to accompany them.
Some of it may also be down to the cast – I like Charlie Hunnam in most things, but he does come across as being more of a supporter than a star. So having him as the main character doesn’t necessarily help things – but it does seem far more like the script is a complete dog-egg, and they’ve all just done what they can with it. And if that’s the case, then it’s really Guy Ritchie who’s primarily responsible, as he’s the writer of the original screenplay too.
All told, the nicest I can say is that it’s a mess. Not one I’d go and see again, it’s fair to say.