After his family is murdered in a violent coup, young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) escapes to Londinium and makes a life for himself in back streets of the city. When the King of England Vortigem (Jude Law) becomes afraid for his throne after a mysterious sword in a stone appears at Camelot when the water recedes, Arthur, as well as all other men his age, are rounded up to try and pull the sword, and prove they are the true King of England so Vortigem can do away with them forever. After Arthur reveals himself as King, he must face his past, and fight for his future.
It seems that cinema has always been fascinated with the Arthurian Legend, and there have been many adaptations of the tale over the yeas. Although the last high profile version of the story was in 2004, there have been many smaller productions in the intervening years before Guy Ritchie felt it was time to put his spin on the tale. The trouble is that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword feels as though it is several movies smashed together, and has serious problems with tone, performance and energy.
The cast of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword features some seriously familiar faces, including Jude Law, Charlie Hunnam, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Djimon Hounsou and Eric Bana, but none of them seem to know which film they are in, and struggle with creating their characters, the energy of the story and the tone of the film.
The screenplay for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was written by Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram, and was apparently considerably rewritten by producer Wigram and director Guy Ritchie. The end result has the feeling of Lord of the Rings meets Snatch, but in the worst possible way. The anachronistic dialogue and accents of the characters feel completely out of place with the magical elements of the tale, and the most fun moments come when the film forgets to take itself so seriously, but these moments are few and far between.
As director Guy Ritchie has created a dark, gloomy and CGI heavy film that is a tonal mess. The magical elements do not sit with the more typical “Guy Ritchie” moments in the film, and feel as though they come from two different stories. The characters are badly realised and performed, as it seems that the actors are struggling to marry the Cockney and mythical tones of the film together.
In all, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is dark, gloomy and a tonal mess. There is very little fun to be had with the film, and any of the laughs that are had feel entirely unintentional. The legend of King Arthur is a fascinating tale, but there is little to celebrate with Guy Ritchie’s messy and uninspiring film. Oh and the less said about the David Beckham cameo, the better.