By Linda Marric
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword or to give it its full name, “lock stock and a whole load of Arthurian cockney nonsense”, is the latest offering from Guy Ritchie. Directed by Ritchie himself and staring Charlie Hunnam, King Arthur is not so much an epic fantasy adventure, but more of a mammoth production of boorish, noisy and not to mention unnecessarily silly going-ons. Despite earlier misgivings, the film opens with a spectacular CGI infused battle which gives you hope that this might not be all bad after all. However. twenty minutes into the film you’ll find yourself wondering, where did the Guy Ritchie of Sherlock Holmes go? And why are we being served more of the same shtick he gave us almost two decades ago?
In what can only be described as an attempt at “cockneyfying” the legend of Excalibur, the film tells the story of an exiled boy king (Oliver Zac Barker, later played by Hunnam) brought up in a Londinium brothel after the death of his father King Uther (Eric Bana) at the hands of the boy’s evil uncle Vortigern (Jude Law). As Vortgern seises the throne aided by dark mystical forces, one thing comes between him and absolute power, he must find Arthur and kill him before it’s too late. To add more mystique to the story, the young exiled king must unearth Excalibur, a magical sword made by a mage named Merlin and given to his father as as a gift. So far so good, however where the story starts to look like a medieval version of some of the worst moments of ‘90s lad culture era, is when Ritchie takes it upon himself to inject some of his usual brand of cockney banter to the proceedings.
Aided by the always brilliant Neil Maskell, and a whole host of the cream of the crop of homegrown talents and international stars, the director turns what could have easily been a brilliantly updated version of the legend of Arthur into something ludicrously brash and not to mention utterly nonsensical. Ritchie, who incidentally co wrote the film with Joby Harold, appears to have made two films in one, the first one being a big noisy superhero origin story which he then melded into a homegrown gangster comedy packed with “hilarious” one liners and annoying jump-cuts. I would be at a miss if I said I wasn’t’ entertained for at least half an hour, and it would be hypocritical to say that I didn’t laugh on several occasions, but the laughs come at the expense of the film rather than with it. As David Beckham’s face, in all its glory, peers at you from the screen the only reaction is the to giggle uncontrollably. However in direct contrast, a cameo from Ritchie himself will infuriate rather than make you guffaw.
On the whole King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword isn’t so much a big international blockbuster, but more of “a local film for local people”, kind of production. News of it not doing so well across the pond won’t matter too much when it opens in the UK, fans of Guy Ritchie will rush to see it, and those who hate him will be curious too.
King Arthur is on general release from Friday 19th May.