King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (2017) (film review).

January 29, 2018 | By | Reply More

‘King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword’ is a powerful film that displays a fresh take on the classic myth of King Arthur and the sword Excalibur. Directed by Guy Ritchie, his unmistakable style ensures that this is like no Arthurian adaptation you’ve seen before and it’s one that I’d highly recommend.

Opening with scenes of an epic battle of ‘Lord Of The Rings’ proportions, a battle featuring giant elephants, dazzling swordplay and powerful magic, the film instantly captures your attention with its ambition and mesmerising visual style. With powerful Celtic-style music thundering in the background of this action, it not only looks great but also sounds great and I can’t help but feel that this would be best enjoyed with the volume turned up on a good surround sound system.

As the title of one of the DVD extras suggests, this film presents ‘Arthur with swagger’ and it’s a phrase that really gets to the heart of this adaptation. Charlie Hunnam gives an impressive performance as Arthur, giving him an inner strength that’s visible even in the most understated scenes. Hunnam also has the necessary physical strength to pull off some spectacular fight scenes, which vary from intimate fistfights to battles featuring hundreds of people. These scenes could become repetitive (there are a lot of them), but Ritchie uses a blend of different fighting styles, slow motion sequences and impressive choreography to ensure that each fight tells a story and keeps the film moving along.

That’s not to say that this is a film that is full-on action all the way through and in fact one of the things I like most about Guy Ritchie’s style is his carefully considered use of silence, stillness and music. There are fairly lengthy periods where nobody speaks, but the film is often at its most captivating during these scenes. I think it takes courage and confidence to allow these breathing spaces and with Daniel Pemberton’s excellent soundtrack added to the mix it’s just a joy to watch. These sequences without dialogue contrast well with Ritchie’s other distinct style element, where we jump rapidly between scenes with fast-paced dialogue coming at you from multiple characters, often telling of events in the past and cutting to the past and back to the present in quick succession. It’s a style you’ll either love or hate and dismiss as just a gimmick. I’m in the former group and every time we get one of those sequences I end up with a big grin on my face.

While Hunnam definitely steals the show here, with his very likeable Arthur that has just the right balance of nobility, humility and power, this is a film that wouldn’t work without an excellent ensemble to back him up. Arthur’s two comrades from the brothel (portrayed by Kingsley Ben-Adir and Neil Maskell) play off each other superbly, and you can easily believe that they’ve known each other for years. In the rebel camp, Djimon Hounsou as the straight-laced Bedivere and Aiden Gillen as Bill really stand out, their parts interacting with just the right amount of dry wit and scepticism, but Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as the mage (who remains nameless in the film) felt a little bit flat and emotionless, This is perhaps intentional, but jarring with this cast of such engaging personalities. Of course, you also need a good villain and Jude Law doesn’t disappoint with his darkly brooding performance as Vortigern. It’s a great cast and even the smallest parts each bring something valuable to the mix.

The Blu-ray also has eight short documentaries in the special features section and, although I would have liked to see some out-takes, the features are well worth a watch. There are some fascinating bits about how they choreographed the fight scenes and there’s a good look at some of the roles that don’t normally hit the spotlight, covering things like set design and location scouting. It was also really entertaining to see the camaraderie between the actors and crew and get a feel for who they all were when not in character. My only small complaint about the extras is that there is some overlap, so if you’re watching all of these features be prepared to see some sections multiple times.

Vinca Russell

January 2018

(region B blu-ray. Pub: Warner Bros. 1 blu-ray disk 126 minute film with extras. Price: £ 7.49 (UK). ASIN: 5000242256)

cast: Charles Hunnam, Jude Law, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey

check out website: wwwwarnerbros.co.uk

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Category: Fantasy, Films

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