Wednesday, May 10, 2017

King Arthur Legend of the Sword Review: An Ambitious and Entertaining Fantasy Adaptation!

Medieval times always been an intriguing concept to tell in stories. While this historical period is labeled the dark ages for a good reason, that has not stop storytellers from exploring this area of time; and perhaps no figure has better defined this concept better than the likes of King Arthur. The British King has played a role in the United Kingdom's history to the point where the tale of Arthur has fallen into myth and legend. Since the 19th century the story of King Arthur has been told in told time and again in a variety of mediums, and the realm of film is no exception to this. There have been many movies dealing with the legend of King Arthur and Camelot and they have ranged in all matters of concepts; from Disney's animated take in The Sword in the Stone or the realistic approach in the 2004 blockbuster King Arthur. Now the legend continues in the new blockbuster King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Directed by Guy Ritchie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword brings a sense of fantasy to the myth and is supposedly meant the first film in a series that centers on the Knights of the Roundtable. With Ritchie's sense of style the movie looked to be an investing blockbuster for the summer, but is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword worthy of the legend?

Legend of the Sword centers on Arthur (Charlie Hunnam): a peasant who runs the backstreets of Londinium. Everything changes for Arthur when he is sent to pull the sword Excalibur from the stone and, much to his surprise, is able to do so. It turns out that Arthur is the son of Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) who sent his son away after his brother, Vortigern(Jude Law), seized the throne for himself. Realizing his heritage Arthur reluctantly joins the resistance who seeks to overthrow Vertigern and place the rightful king onto the throne.

The story to King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was fairly simplistic tale, but how the movie tells the tale that makes all the difference. Rather than being straightforward in its storytelling most of the events are told from different points in the film. This direction was certainly ambitious but it was also a double edged sword for the film. On one hand this sense of storytelling helped Legend of the Sword to stand out from other King Arthur tales, but the direction also made the movie feel choppy and took away from pivotal moments-such as Arthur journeying to the badlands to understand Excalibur. While nothing in the overall plot was confusing it could be disconcerting seeing the story told in such a unique manner. Along with the movie's dynamic storytelling was its fantasy based lore. The backstory to the plot quite interesting as factors like the mages gave the story an engaging perspective. My only issue with the the lore was that it was not explored enough; but this could easily be nitpick because if the movie is part of a six film series then this element could be furthered explored in future movies.

The movie certainly had an interesting cast. Charlie Hunnam's performance of Arthur was engaging as it brought a different take on the legendary king. Along with Hunnam was Jude Law as the villainous Vertigern. Although his direction was fairly standard, Law's performance as the tyrant made Vertigern (at the very least) a convincing villain. The movie also had a fair share of supporting characters. Some such as Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere and Aidan Gillen as Goosefat Bill Wilson were effective members in the cast, but others like Annabelle Wallis as Maid Maggie managed to get lost in the shuffle. Then there was there was Astrid Bergest-Frisbey as the Mage. The character made for a different kind of female lead but Frisbey seemed out of her element with her performance as the Mage. Rounding things out was Eric Bana as Uther Pendragon whose limited appearance managed to serve its purpose for both the movie and the cast.

When it came to the movie's technical elements the fantasy element was in full effect. Along with having the stylish cinematography by John Mathieson, the movie's use of effects certainly brought out a sense of magic to the movie's spectacle. I particularly liked the Excalibur sequences as they made the legendary sword actually feel like magical weapon. When it came to the action this element did work for the movie, but there were few sequences that stood out in both execution and creativity. One element that worked in the movie's favor was the score by Daniel Pemberton. Not only did the music fit the movie's story and concept, but the score brought out a unique composition that it is usually uncommon for movies such as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

If anything King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a different take on the King Arthur mythos. While Guy Ritchie's direction could be too stylistic for the movie, it did however make for a unique presentation that managed not to devalue too much from elements such as story and characters. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword may not have been a triumphant interpretation to the legend; but with its dynamic sense of spectacle and entertaining nature, this fantasy blockbuster manged to be an adaptation that was as ambitious as it was entertaining.

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