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After re-imagining Sherlock Holmes his own way, Guy Ritchie recently turned his attention to the Arthurian legends and delivered King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. Due to a ridiculous budget that didn't translate to much on screen, the film was a box-office flop and was mostly panned critically.

The film opens with a scene in which Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) takes on giant elephants in an over-the-top sequence that would fit quite well in a Lord Of The Rings movie. This could set the tone for a proudly ridiculous, action-packed epic but, while it is indeed shamelessly silly, it's not exactly the thrilling actioner you'd expect. Parts of the film are over-stylised, bloated and full of giant CGI creatures, other parts feel bare and not unlike a relatively low-budget effort like Centurion or an Uwe Boll movie. But it's the sub-par writing that really prevents this King Arthur film from being the fun roller-coaster ride it wanted to be. The masterful Excalibur understood the importance of creating a certain atmosphere to tell these stories of magic, romance, tragedy and heroism. This movie wants to be a Robin Hood-style origin story that deals with the legends in a more realistic way but it also wants to be a goofy fantasy epic and that just doesn't work, especially when your film lacks visual flair, mood and characters you actually care about or at least recognize from the iconic stories.

Charlie Hunnam could have made a good Arthur but he is not given anything to work with, none of the cast are. Jude Law does stand out as the villain but only because he over-compensates for an under-written script by hamming it up constantly. The film fails to build any sort of pace or urgency as it repeats the same few scenes over and over again: the heroes plan something, this is intercut with a montage of what happens next, then a poorly edited fight scene and an anti-climactic resolution. This goes on for over two hours and it gets repetitive fast. Guy Ritchie knows how to put together a decent montage and he knows how to make a scene look good but you'd never know it here. By being over-ambitious and expecting this to turn into a full-on King Arthur franchise, the film is mostly filler setting up a potentially more interesting sequel as Merlin is teased throughout and Arthur fails to master Excalibur's Thor-like powers until the end. Parts of the film are amusing due to how silly they are and some brief sequences look cool but you'll find it tough to enjoy much more than that.

To say that Legend Of The Sword is a missed opportunity would be an understatement. It's easy to imagine a typically over-the-top King Arthur movie directed by Guy Ritchie that's low on accuracy and brains but high on sheer popcorn entertainment. Sadly, you'll have to keep on imagining all that as this is an underwhelming flop with an uneven tone, a serious lack of fun and very little substance.


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