Earth is upturned everywhere…
The skies pregnant with floating debris and the sun, ─ ashamed─ hides behind the clouds.
The world as we know it is no more. It is become chaos.
No, I’m not describing the opening scene of King Arthur; Legend of the Sword…
I’m using the introduction above to convey my shock at the terrible ratings the movie got.
While critics have reeled out a list of flaws in the movie starting with its divergence from the traditional Arthurian lore to its historical inaccuracies and poor acting on the part of some characters, there’s a bit of a general consensus that the overall product is enjoyable.
It is my opinion that any piece of art be it visual, audio or a combination of both by any standard must satisfy the two ‘Es’ to be considered successful. It must be entertaining and educative.
On these two counts, I feel strongly that Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur does well.
King Arthur is a well-known story which has been filmed several times. A retelling of the story cinematically would have to incorporate something fresh or different to be considered entertaining to even non-British subjects who are far removed from its history.
It took me a second viewing to fully appreciate the multi-layered storytelling device employed for most of the film. A mixture of ‘show and tell’─ a technique that proved engaging and moved the plot on seamlessly. The game-simulated effect of the escape scene after the assassination attempt was refreshingly different and welcome in my view. It served to make bland grand for me.
One major thing that as well stood out for me through the movie was the depiction of magic. There was a departure from the ‘hocus pocus’ type of magic often seen to a very realistic and believable depiction. Although flashbacks were constantly used, there were something I found myself looking forward to as much as possible to learn more about the plot/character.
The nameless Mage character (played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) has been called out for bad acting as well as David Beckham for his cameo as the character Trigger. Some have also opined that the nameless Mage wasn’t well developed as a character.
To the first objection, I’d say I had no issues at all with the presentation of both actors. The Mage succeeded in evoking an air of mysticism with her short sentences, long silences and expressionless face for most of the movie. David’s performance on the other hand was too short to be put in the face of the extremely critical examination it’s faced. And I daresay if his role had been played by an unknown bloke from Norwich we might possibly not have had as much uproar.
To the second, I think the character was developed as well as it could have been without hurting the character. Not knowing enough about her origins certainly added the mystery without rendering her magical powers unbelievable.
The casting was superb for me. The addition of characters from Game of Thrones, Merlin series coupled with the plot being a mash up between Moses/Hamlet story and Locksleyesque (Robin Hood) lore made the movie thoroughly enjoyable.
According to tradition, Vortigern (played by Jude Law) lived about 2 centuries before Arthur and therefore some feel the character should not have featured in the film. To them I say, what’s life without the little twists? In addition, Jude Law’s depiction of the villain Vortigern took me off my feet. It’s a major reason I loved the movie.
Even the monkey business involving chinks and kung fu included for diversity’s sake perhaps wasn’t enough to offend the sensibilities.
King Arthur; Legend of the Sword for me is a win. The acting was super, the soundtracks were explosive─ in a nice way─ and the infusion of modern costumes added an extra appeal. The effects were different (in comparison to other Arthurian movies) yes, but very welcome and the storytelling just capped it all up into a delightful product.
For those desiring a retelling in the same old traditional toga, it falls way, way short and is bound to disappoint but for those who may be open to tweaks, it’s almost certain to make for an exhilarating experience─ it might just be your best epic movie in 2017.