King Arthur Legend of the Sword Reviews: Rowdy, Cheerful But Silly

With a 44% rating on Metacritic, Guy Ritchie's 2017 reboot of the action adventure title has underwhelmed. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword officially opens in theaters this Friday on May 12th. And, while many were hopeful that the Sherlock Holmes and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels filmmaker would bring something fresh to the table, it appears as though it has flattered to deceive.

Boasting a cast featuring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law and Eric Bana, the $175m production will hope that the reviews do not score off moviegoers ahead of the box office premiere. Enjoyable in parts, the new installment has not entirely convinced those that scored an early screening.

Haphazard and Ridiculous, But Entertaining

Jude Law in King Arthur Legend of the Sword

Awarding a C+ rating, Matt Goldberg from Collider says that the pacing is all over the place.

"For Ritchie’s part, whenever the supernatural does appear, he handles it haphazardly. There are times, like when Arthur goes to the 'Darklands' to learn how to master the sword, that the director has fun with the premise, and plays a quest in fast forward. But there are also times when the movie gets away from him completely to where there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to how magic functions in Legend of the Sword."

Avoiding any crossover tropes, Goldberg is of the opinion that there is more hits than misses in this extravaganza.

"(It) is a bit of a hodgepodge, but it’s one that’s consistently interesting. It makes missteps and there are bits that absolutely don’t work, but it surprisingly succeeds more often than it fails. It makes me wish the movie was a bit tighter and more focused because I’d like to see Ritchie tackle other aspects of this world, especially since Legend of the Sword has the restraint to not force in other elements of Arthurian myth like Lancelot, Guinevere, etc."

Giving a 3/5 rating, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw explains that the subject material should not, and cannot be taken too literally.

"Guy Ritchie’s cheerfully ridiculous Arthur is a gonzo monarch, a death-metal warrior-king," he writes. "Ritchie’s film is at all times over the top, crashing around its digital landscapes in all manner of beserkness, sometimes whooshing along, sometimes stuck in the odd narrative doldrum. But it is often surprisingly entertaining, and whatever clunkers he has delivered in the past, Ritchie again shows that a filmmaker of his craft and energy commands attention."

2017's Answer To Monty Python?

The Telegraph critic Robbie Collin's 2/5 rating slammed the chaotic filmmaking and liberal application of a solid plot. He also drew a parallel between it and the 70s spoof team of Monty Python.

"So the good news – just about the only good news – is that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword mostly picks its way around the expected Pythonesque pitfalls, although there is an action sequence around halfway through in which Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) battles some bloodthirsty wildlife that’s just itching for a cameo from the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog."

The lack of a coherent narrative kills any successes the movie might have, according to Collin.

"But Ritchie’s film – the initial installment in a proposed series of six, and first major Arthur picture since Antoine Fuqua’s 2004 attempt with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley – is so misshapen and inert, your imagination and memory never come close to being sparked by it. Just sticking with the plot soaks up every ounce of concentration you have."

Peter Debruge of Variety also drew a link between Legend of the Sword and Python, believing that the latter actually reflected history more accurately.

"In Ritchie’s over-the-top, rock-and-roll King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the less you know about the legend in question, the better. The brash British director has thrown out nearly all preexisting Arthurian notions and come up with a smoking new riff on the famous sword-in-the-stone tale that makes Monty Python and the Holy Grail look like a work of rigorous historical scholarship by comparison."

For Debruge, the cast try their utmost to make the most of the material at their disposal as the director misplaces the importance of the story.

"Hunnam’s competing with so much ridiculous window-dressing here. It’s as if Ritchie.. has once again tried to build an entire movie around the whereabouts of a rare weapon, when the legend of the sword isn’t nearly as interesting as that of the man who wields it."

Source: The Guardian, TelegraphCollider, Variety