So, I’m fresh from the theater and can hardly wait to deconstruct this film. After tumbling through the latest films (see upcoming reviews on F8 of Furious and xXx), I had no high expectations, especially after viewing the titillating trailer featuring all the fighting highlights in the entire film in a teaser style that video game trailers love to over-utilize.
That being said, I’m not exactly coming from the perspective of one who has watched all that cinema has to offer on the topic of King Arthur, Merlin, the Pendragons, or anything of the sort. While I am generally familiar with the story of Arthur’s ascension to the throne, the only film I’ve watched in this vein was Monty Python’s: The Holy Grail. Consequently, my perception of this film is not impacted by the apparently disgraceful and inaccurate slant on the story.
So, onward to the good and the bad of this film. As usual, I’m focusing on:
- Characters / MC vs Antagonist
- Cinematic Techniques
Plot – 3.5/10
What I enjoyed most about the plot, occurs mostly at the beginning. Rather than dragging tedious moment-by-moment reels of backstory, the video editing maximizes the core focus of the story by providing relevant snapshots of history while minimizing the time wasted on unimportant -but somehow pertinent- details.
This is, by far, the best aspect of the plot IMHO.
But if you are reminded at points of Game of Thrones, there are several very obvious reasons why (which cannot be disclosed without causing spoilers).
Unfortunately, I could poke holes into this plot all night. Much of what takes place to galvanize the plot from one point to another is often done by squeaking by with the thinnest relevance and glaring broadsides of painful coincidence. Like a bad bender, the viewer is swept from one high octane moment to the next, with no sense of balance or equilibrium. Worse still, is the lack of emphasis on the critical (or not critical, who really knows?) points of the story. Instead, humor and sarcasm behave as a foil to distract from the bigger picture.
Don’t get me wrong, I love humor and sarcasm in film, but in this case, having sarcasm on top of action on top of fantasy on top of drama was just one extra layer that -for the most part- could have been eliminated in order to drill down to what the plot was actually getting at.
Action – 6/10
Alrighty, so if you came for awesome bloodthirsty violence… there is little to be found. But, if you came for epic sword fights, you could whet your appetite on worse.
I’d estimate the action in this film was comprised of about 20% hand-to-hand combat and 80% sword fighting… The sword fighting was really “magical” -aka physically impossible and against all laws of science. While it didn’t really get my blood pumping, the choreography was on point and there were no glaring errors, which is a win in my book.
Characters – 3/10
If you are looking for deeply fleshed out characters with well-defined narratives and purpose within their existence and backstory, please drop your popcorn and walk away because there will be none!
In this film, I’m harsher on the writer than the actors, who nobly maintained their characters to the bitter end of the final scenes.
M.C. – Charlie Hunnam as Arthur
Apparently, for this script, Arthur developed brash banter and a slightly confusing character personality who couldn’t quite make up his mind when his life depended on it.
Despite his inner wavering about his destiny, Arthur’s character is multifaceted in a way that is almost dizzying. In an effort to make him seem layered and sophisticated, the numerous facets of Arthur’s character gain a slightly bipolar personality at critical moments. Some personality traits juxtapose and contradict at the same time -often to assist with advancing to the next scene -even more confusing than the last scene.
Antagonist – Jude Law as Uncle Vortigern
Turns out the antagonist remained the most defined character in the film. At times, Vortigern showed the depth and potential to do great and terrifying things. At other moments, he came off rather petulant.
While there were some impressive moments, this antagonist didn’t exactly cause me to quiver in delicious anticipation of what he’d do next. It all seemed rather mechanical. In certain scenes, Vortigern was present to serve no real purpose except banter. A waste of a character of such personage.
Secondary and Peripheral Characters
Be prepared for thinly outlined and barely defined personalities whose impact on the plot will at times be significant without warning or evidence of relevance. I’d say their behaviors were out of character -except the writer never clearly gave them any character to begin with (reverse inception?)!
Some characters have a barely any story to provide relevant information as to why they are in the plot at all. Others are left one-dimensional characters which manifest desires and actions that come out of nowhere to add yet another layer of well-filmed chaos to the overall flow of the plot. And some don’t even have names, despite being a secondary character.
So you end up with a mixed bag of people, some of whom will react in ways that make no sense. Be prepared.
Cinematic Techniques – 8/10
The best part of this film was the fun camera angles. The viewer will be upside down, right side up, tandem to the actor, sideways, and rotating 360 degrees for maximum impact and the best/most obscure viewing angles never before seen outside most video games with a joystick.
The true hero of this film was the scenery and landscape. At times, I was more entranced by their sweeping moors and picturesque hillsides than what was happening with the people in the film -and that’s saying something considering I typically don’t give two shytes what the scenery is like.
You’d be impressed by the depth of field if you watch in 3D- of prior films I’ve seen in 3D, this seemed the best modeling yet. Very sharp visuals. Even the 3D construction for buildings and cities were impressive, so props to the animators for beautiful eye-candy.
(I also appreciated the costume design, where even the soldiers looked bad-ass).
Overall, the whole film was very “pretty” to look at, so it had that going for it.
Overall Rating: 5.1/10
I didn’t regret watching, but it wasn’t as satisfactory as I had hoped.