A wildly mixed bag
Can we please start giving Guy Ritchie some credit? There aren't that many directors using the full range of cinematic aspects available to them, but Guy Ritchie is undoubtedly one of them. However, unlike someone like Edgar Wright or Wes Anderson, Guy Ritchie's films just don't seem to be held in as high regard. I don't really know why-yes, the stories may be weaker, but I'll take an overall well-executed film and a weak script versus a strong script and poor execution. The first Sherlock Holmes was outstanding, and can be credited with rebooting the Sherlock franchise, and his 2015 film The Man from U.N.C.L.E...... as I'm sure you know by now, was one of my top action flicks of the year. While Ritchie's signature can be seen throughout this film, there's just too much..... crap here to make it truly enjoyable. And the people have already spoken-King Arthur is shaping up to be the first true box office bomb of 2017. Poor Warner Brothers studios just can't catch a break.
So, let's talk about the positives first. Guy Ritchie throws a lot of ideas against the wall, particularly in the editing department. Some of them stuck, most notably with the montages. There are some really cool sequences here as Arthur and his crew lay out plans for taking back England from Vortigern. This is another strong part of the film-Jude Law plays a damn good villain. While there are some limitations with his character in the writing department, which we'll get to in a bit, Jude Law was simply eating up the screen in his role, and I loved it. Finally, some of the stylized action sequences worked, and looked pretty darn cool. However, most of them did not.
Let's start there with the negatives, shall we? While some of the action sequences were pretty spectacular, the vast majority of them were pretty laughably bad. I guess when Ritchie and co. combined their stylized action sequences with the magic within this world, we found ourselves left with some pretty incomprehensible CGI-filled sequences. The worst was undoubtedly the final boss battle. This sequence was TERRIBLE. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks better than this! Then there's the writing. Ohhhhhh boy. This film was passed between a TON of screenwriters, and it really shows. This film is an absolute mess from a script standpoint. Even the actors were confused, most notably the great Charlie Hunnam in the lead role of Arthur. His character randomly seems to switch personalities at several points and it was very odd. One second he's charming, then the next he's a complete jerk for no reason, then suddenly he's charming again! Jude Law's character, Vortigern, also suffers here-his character's motivations are simple, yes, but there were several occasions where it seemed like he was trying to be a nice guy and it was really confusing. I don't know if this was intentional or not, or the result of just how infectiously charming and charismatic Jude Law can be, but it just comes back to the overall tone of the movie. Or lack thereof.
This film is the result of corporate-directed film-making, and what happens when you revise your film a dozen times trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Despite some good moments from Guy Ritchie, it is simply just too toxic to be anywhere near Warner Brothers right now. There's no doubt this film suffered at the hands of corporate execs trying to find an answer to the massive success Disney is enjoying between Marvel and Star Wars, and it looks like the distributor is going to lose a TON of money because of their misadventure. And overall, while I did find some great moments here and there watching this, there was just too much crap surrounding those moments to make the overall experience enjoyable. There are several more high-profile Warner Brothers releases coming this year-Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, It, Blade Runner 2049, Geostorm, and Justice League-and there's a lot of pressure for these guys to deliver some hits. If all of these films are disappointments, the clock may honestly find itself approaching midnight for one of Hollywood's original studios. Don't falter on us now, Warner Brothers. You have too much history behind you.
The Critique: Despite a few exhilarating action sequences, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, falls flat on its face thanks to a very weak script, shaky acting, and overdone CGI.
The Recommendation: There really isn't much to like here, so I'd say go see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. instead, because.....seriously. Nowhere near enough people have seen that film.
The Verdict: 4/10 Below Average