LOCK STOCK in medieval town.
I was sword of excited to see KING ARTHUR. Not because of who it starred or the story it’s (very loosely) based upon, but because it’s directed by Guy Ritchie. A guy who delivered two of my all-time favourite films, LOCK STOCK and SNATCH.
I’ll be honest, without his name under the banner it would have been highly unlikely I’d have bothered seeing this. The sword in the stone story has never really interested me and I already knew how it all played out after the countless times we covered it in school and the many films and TV shows that have gone before. Thankfully this movie mixes things up a bit and it I feel it benefits from it more than it damages it. This isn’t your typical King Arthur movie, and I’ve noticed many reviewers knock it for that. But you know what other reviewer people?, I DON’T AGREE WITH YOU. After seeing a number of films recently that have followed very well-known stories to the letter, this was a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t sat already knowing what was going to come next and that’s a good thing surely?
Charlie Hunnam who plays the sword wielding legend does a pretty solid job, however I still feel he lacks the star power to lead a movie… and dare I say it… he feels like a cheap knock off copy of Brad Pitt from SNATCH (I could swear… there are a number of scenes that, if you squint hard enough, you could trick yourself into believing it to be Brad) Jude Law does a fantastic job as the main villain Vortigern and makes for a formidable foe. Other stars include a number of characters from HBO’s Game Of Thrones, including Aidan Gillen & Michael McElhatton. At times it’s easy to see that some inspiration may have come from the hugely famous TV show. One negative is that some of the smaller characters weren’t as fleshed out as they perhaps could have been but the film doesn’t suffer all that much for it.
The film is dripping in style… If you have watched Guy Ritchie’s take on Sherlock Holmes you’ll have an idea of what to expect here. His signature slow-mos and cuts are all over this… throw in some gorgeous particle effects and creative camera shots and it genuinely left me breathless. It provokes adrenaline and is impossible to look away.
A personal favourite of mine were the sweeping shots from above that swoop down onto the streets and into new scenes. These are awesome and I grinned from ear to ear every time it did that. Couple that with some fantastic special effects that, even in the heat of the battle and close ups of Arthur doing his thing with that sword of his, doesn’t fail us. Ohh and that opening scene with the giant elephants is jaw dropping. Great stuff!
The soundtrack is damn right perfection throughout too and fits perfectly with every scene. Clearly an awful lot of work has gone into making it feel organic and befitting of the medieval timeframe and even syncs perfectly in Guys gritty and raw slow-motion scenes as well!
However not all is perfect in this medieval history lesson on acid. Something felt a little amiss throughout. I think deep down I wished the subject matter was different and I’ll try to explain the best I can what I mean by that…. Because the film was undoubtedly Guy Ritchie and the characters all acted and spoke like current day cockney, it felt slightly jarring that we were in Medieval times fighting alongside giant snakes and elephants. It’s something I couldn’t quite shake off throughout its 2 hour runtime. My feelings may not be echoed amongst the rest but a part of me felt like it was a little too LOCK STOCK without being anything like LOCK STOCK. Basically it made my brain hurt a bit.
The film could have been tightened up a touch too… Arthurs continued reluctance to become the hero does become frustrating and downright annoying at times and a good 10+ minutes where he goes off to find himself (and be attacked by bats) was clearly just there to smash out some extra VFX and throw in some more unnecessary medieval creatures. I also can’t ignore some very questionable decisions by Vortigern towards the end.
Guy Ritchie’s next project is Disney’s ALLADIN remake and this gets me somewhat giddy. After creating a hugely enjoyable film with source material I have zero interest in he proves once again how talented a director he is.
At the time of writing this review the film seems to be bombing at the box office worldwide and it certainly doesn’t deserve that. Granted the story is somewhat underwhelming and the standard Ritchie laddishness does seem to clash with the source material, but it’s also fast paced, unbelievably stylish and genuinely hilarious in parts.
If you’re a fan of Guy Ritchie’s previous work don’t let it sink to the bottom of the lake… There’s a lot of fun to be found in this. Grab hold of the sword by both hands and just enjoy the adventure!