King Arthur is one of the greatest characters in the history of fiction. The mythological king brings with him an interesting tapestry of characters, a fantastic setting and rich storylines.
Guy Richie tried to bring an updated version of the knight to the silver screen with “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” It looked like a stylized hot mess. When Richie succeeds, it’s glorious. The snappy dialogue and action can be fun and — in a strange, cockeyed way,l — whimsical. But when he falls flat, Richie’s films can be disasterous.
The previews gave me conserve, but enough friends on social media said nice things, that I decided to give it a discount Tuesday try. Now, after walking out of the theater feeling concussed by the absurdity and flimsiness of the movie, I’m thinking of infriending and unfollowing some people. OK, it wasn’t that bad, but it was terrible.
First of all, Richie didn’t seem to be sure whether he wanted to do a “Lord of the Rings” version of Camelot or a “Game of Thrones” version. Either way, he was going for something big. Part of me wonders if this would have worked better as “Guy Richie does a five episode series on HBO.” Either way, Richie doesn’t delve into the essence of Power the way “Thrones” does, more does he give us a worthwhile look at the essence of Humanity that “LOTR” does.
Sure, there are some wonderful aspects to the film. It’s admirable that he doesn’t have an all Caucasian cast. The actors from “Game of Thrones” – Aiden Gillen and Michael McElhatton – are fantastic, as is Djimon Hounsou and Jude Law. The way the arc of Mordred is told is interesting, as is the treatment of the magic people. Excalibur is pretty damn cool, as it should be since the movie is about it. Oh, and the Lady of the Lake is fun. We needed more of her.
But so much was absurd. There’s a bit with a giant snake that doesn’t make much sense. There’s a father son relationship with one of Arthur’s friends that ends up being trite, but with a more deft touch, could have been enjoyable. Then there were some syrens that needed sacricifes. And, maybe, a mini-balrog.
Maybe the biggest problem is that the film seems to be setting up a series, which would have meant an appearance by Guinevere. But we can’t expect this Arthur to be someone who could woo a Guinevere.
I’m glad I saw the movie, but it will immediately fall into the dustbin of forgettable takes on Arthur and Camelot.