The Big Picture

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Pumped-up version of the famous legend of King Arthur, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, featuring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey (and some guy named David Beckham), offers an action-packed reboot that could visually put to shame many other fantasy films by being bigger, louder and heavily remixed to infuse a more modern touch.

Just like the well-known original tale, the movie revolves around young Arthur (Hunnam), who is unaware of his royal lineage until he draws the sword Excalibur from its stone. From then confronting his true legacy, he will have to face his demons and reclaim the king’s throne by defeating the tyrant Vortigern (Law).

Guy Ritchie has rarely disappointed us, especially after he successfully revamped the story of literary hero Sherlock Holmes by giving it a much more contemporary twist. But has he done the same wonders with King Arthur’s epic tale? Here are the most shared opinions…

Warner Bros.

Overwhelming (sadly, not in a good way)

Although it’s sad to say, there’s simply one thing most critics agree on, and that’s the fact that Guy Ritchie’s usual gift for making stories visually exciting this time pretty much overkilled his new project. As Peter Debruge from Variety writes: “Early on in his career, Guy Ritchie took rough-and-tumble streetwise hoodlums and elevated them to hero status. Now, he does the opposite.”

What the magazine Rolling Stone calls slightly exaggeratedly “a king-sized pile of crap”King Arthur: Legend of the Sword seems to be “at all times over the top” by being made of “hypercaffeinated, hyperdrive speeded-up sequences.”

Even though the film is action-packed and includes visually ambitious battle sequences through the use of CGI technology, Ritchie’s latest creation, often compared to a movie designed almost like a video game, turns out to be a “bland action epic.” 

The end result is mostly a “Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law show,” in which both actors “demonstrate an admirable commitment to the material.” But unfortunately, that’s not enough to make the film a fully accomplished piece of work as the movie’s visual effects tend to too often upstage its characters, who in the end don’t seem to matter all that much.

But despite this in-your-face factor that takes way too much space to give King Arthur’s story the reboot it deserves, you’ll probably find that it stays entertaining from beginning to end and offers “reasonably good fun.” (Just don’t set your expectations too high.)

Best quotes from the reviews:

Director Guy Ritchie treats the Arthurian legend as opportunity for another rowdy chase after an elusive weapon. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Guy Ritchie’s loud, loose take on the British monarch and his ass-kicking round table is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. – Peter Travis, Rolling Stone

It’s unsubtle to say the very least, in the same way that Iron Maiden is unsubtle. – Peter Bradshaw