244th Movie Review: King Arthur

A mediocre film in a medieval setting

Nice try, attempting to make the tale of King Arthur less mystical and more legendary by incorporating him into historical facts, but it didn’t work. Somehow, it came out awkward. Still, I was ready to give it a higher rating; but after seeing how it ended, I just couldn’t.

Why? I’ll tell you later. But first, let me take a step back and talk about what happened. The film is set in 450 A.D, when the Roman Empire has begun to fall and its armies are fleeing the British Isles. Arthur (Clive Owen) is a devoted Christian torn between his desire to travel to Rome to serve his faith and his loyalty to the land of his birth. Amidst all the chaos in Europe, Arthur works with a band of knights who hope to restore order to their fair and pleasant land and hopes to win freedom for his comrades, among them Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Galahad (Hugh Dancy), Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), Gawain (Joel Edgerton), Bors (Ray Winstone), and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson). In time, Arthur and his men join forces with Merlin (Stephen Dillane), a shaman (he got demoted) whose band of renegade knights were often pitched in battle against Roman forces. Forming a united front as loyal Englishmen against the invading Saxon armies, Arthur, Merlin, and the brave and beautiful Guinevere (Keira Knightley) are determined to unite a sovereign Britain under one army… and one king.

Typical on films set in the Dark ages, it’s a bit difficult to understand the backstory by the dialogues alone. Not necessarily bad, but it keeps you from enjoying the show. At the same time you’re trying to remember the names of the knights, which is also a headache. One doesn’t have the time to memorize those things. The fighting scenes get a bit tiring too, with only the final exhibition as an exception. The first 50 minutes were meh, nothing out of the ordinary, but I became more attentive when Arthur discovered a gem hidden in a filthy dungeon: Keira Knightley. She looked too precious to be a prisoner, even if they tried making her look dehydrated.

As for the others, no one stood out in particular. I was left unimpressed with their introductions, especially Arthur, but they all seemed to progress fine as time passed by. Later you’ll begin to see the bond that the knights have formed in their 15 years of service despite the lack of a clear backstory.

What I disliked the most about the movie is its lack of focus. There’s the part where Arthur realizes that the Rome he loved wasn’t actually as perfect and as just as what he had boasted it to be. But halfway into the film the Saxons arrive and he almost forgets all about it. Merlin gets tangled in there somewhere, which behaved more like a grandpa than a leader. A couple of the knights then die after Arthur battles the Saxons. However, instead of making the mood solemn, we see Arthur and Guinevere tie the knot at Stonehenge.  The film had two hours and eight minutes, but it’s sad that they only spent a couple to finish it all off. Without the magic, Arthur is nothing but generic.

GRADE: C+

I Agreed With the MAJORITY

Rotten Tomatoes: 32% Fresh, 4.9/10 Critic Rating

Internet Movie Database: 6.2/10 User Rating

Metacritic: 46/100

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