May 1, 2017

Movie Monday: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

I am a massive geek for everything to do with the Matter of Britain, so it was a foregone conclusion I'd go to see King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Getting to see an early screening at the local AMC was a bonus.

I wasn't sure about Guy Ritchie doing King Arthur, since his focus tends to be fast-talking criminal sorts and hyperkinetic action. I found, however, that his style meshed well with the subject. His King Arthur does grow up a fast-talking criminal, in the manner of an ambitious boy who grew up with nothing. There are many moments of gloriously daffy banter, and many montages set to hard-driving music that keep the epic story moving along swiftly.

Let me tell you, I'm not one who usually notices scores, but I am buying this soundtrack. It's percussive, hooky, and will get your pulse pumping.



Charlie Hunnam is a good fit for Arthur. He's got a natural confidence that meshes well with leadership roles. He also seems very grounded, which makes him a great foil for the theatrics of the villain King Vortigern, played by Jude Law. I think Law was having a great deal of fun playing a ruthless, cruel man who would nonetheless like to believe that his people love as well as fear him. There's a nice touch of vulnerability to his performance. I honestly wish they shared more scenes.

The supporting cast is also quite game, including the always fantastic Djimon Hounsou, although I wish the story involved more women. Neither of the most famous women of King Arthur legend make an appearance in Legend of the Sword. There are clear hooks for a sequel, but surely there was room for Guinevere or Morgan to make an appearance? (For trivia buffs, Katie McGrath played Morgana in BBC's Merlin and has a small role in this film.) The mage is cool, and Astrid Berg├Ęs-Frisbey plays not-quite-human very well, but I'd have loved more women as main characters.

This is not a serious take on the legend, nor one that plays true to the most common tales. But it is a fun movie, and one that understands the heart of the story.  King Arthur brings all parts of society together, and ushers in a rule of equality and respect. That's a bit of escapism I can get behind.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword opens May 11.

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