Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
After defeating Mordred and his minions, King Uther (Bana), the good and powerful King of the Britons and master of Excalibur is betrayed and murdered by his envious brother Vortigern (Law). The child prince Arthur (Hunnam) is safely swept by the river into the brothel where prostitutes find, care and raise him. Arthur grows up tough and cunning. When the river reveals the Excalibur, Vortigern has young men rounded up and forced to try to extract the sword to he can flush out the only threat—Arthur. Meanwhile, Arthur is captured and successfully pulls the sword Excalibur out from the rock. He then discovers his real identity as well as his destiny to defeat Vortigern and free Camelot. But the questions remains: Is Arthur willing to do so?
Richie’s version is at most fun. It intertwines the classic legend with non linear editing techniques familiar to action spy films, avant-garde designs and completely different character personalities. That he tried to impute revisionist visions in the classic tale is commendable. It did away with Camelot’s romance and chivalry and made the well-loved ancient characters interact with modern concepts of society and storytelling. But his brave attempt delivered nothing more than a muddled version with outrageously cheesy dialogue and a series of scenes that rushed for two hours. Perhaps the film could have worked if it was not packaged as a King Arthur story.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword threads on two main themes: sacrifice and responsibility. We see two sides of sacrifice—the self-serving and the selfless of Vortigern and Uther, respectively. The former consumes and destroys, the latter liberates and unites. Sacrifice gains its worth when its motivation is not the self. In the same manner, another person's sacrifice reciprocates a call to stand up and become the leader or game changer you are called to be. In other words, a selfless sacrifice begets a commitment to responsibility… again not to the self but for the common good. Needless to say, the film reiterates a simple and straightforward message—that there is good in every person regardless of his background. On the other hand, education, social stature, and authority do not make a person good. It is still a matter of choice. While Ritchie tries really hard to deliver a solid message, he does so with an exaggerated storytelling and unconvincing characterization. We doubt if the audience can wade through the confused plot and flamboyant production. But nonetheless, we did say the film—with Pemberton’s thumping music—is a lot of fun.