Despite being directed by the often fantastic Guy Ritchie, and starring Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam, critics are ripping into King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
The film — a retelling of the beloved medieval tale — currently holds an 18 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating that less than 1/5 of critics liked the film.
American trade press were also dismissive of Ritchie’s flick, The Hollywood Reporter saying: “Loud, bombastic and thuddingly obvious, this is a vulgar movie for vulgar times.”
Entertainment Weekly went further, calling the film “another wannabe blockbuster with too much flash and not enough soul.”
While not exactly filled with praise, The Guardian were slightly more optimistic, giving the film three stars, writing: “The film rattles along exhilaratingly, if sometimes intermittently, like a fairground rollercoaster that occasionally stops and makes you get out and walk for a few minutes before letting you back on.”
King Arthur reaches UK cinemas 19 May. Read snippets of the reviews below.
Jude Law toils admirably as demonic proto-dictator Vortigern, but Hunnam’s decision to play Arthur as a smirking lunk makes him hard to root for. Ritchie is clearly still adept at marshalling an inventive action set-piece, but all hopes that this is heading anywhere interesting are ultimately dashed.
Ritchie’s filmmaking has always thrived at manly close quarters, in quotable moments: anyone who saw his reboot of The Man From UNCLE will already know the cut of Henry Cavill’s suit and Armie Hammer’s jawline were all the special effects that wildly underrated film needed. The problem with a King Arthur blockbuster is that it needs sweep and scope, and the attempts at spectacle here feel far outside the director’s comfort zone.
This is a tonal misfire, its characters cut down by a blitzkrieg of whip pans, CGI and thunderous percussion. And with Ritchie again rummaging in his increasingly threadbare bag of tricks, the result is a movie more jaundiced than jaunty. There’s a thin line between visionary and hodgepodge, and it’s a line that King Arthur crosses and re-crosses with an abandon that rivals Hunnam’s accent sliding from Cockney to Californian and back again.
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Loud, bombastic and thuddingly obvious, this is a vulgar movie for vulgar times. Such synchronicity alone makes it worthy of cultural consideration of a certain kind. But it also can't be denied that Ritchie, who hasn't been deemed a director of creative interest since his early Lock, Stock... and Snatch days, and certainly least of all for his hugely lucrative Sherlock Holmes entries, does pull off some quick-witted and clever sequences here; he doesn't want to bore or approach narrative conventionally, so he's found ways of conveying a good deal of information very quickly, taking an aggressive approach to supplying backstory and never ever slipping into solemnity or sanctimony.
Hunnam and his charismatic band of merry pranksters get lost in the sea of pixels. Which is a shame. Because King Arthur could have been a rollicking blast. Instead it’s just another wannabe blockbuster with too much flash and not enough soul.
It’s reasonably good fun and there’s a great “assassination” scene in which the director himself puts in a cameo as a frowning householder. The film rattles along exhilaratingly, if sometimes intermittently, like a fairground rollercoaster that occasionally stops and makes you get out and walk for a few minutes before letting you back on.
Part Game of Thrones, part Snatch, and almost all bad, Guy Ritchie's latest is one of those generic blockbusters that has nothing to say and no idea how to say it.
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