“King Arthur” holds the dubious distinction of being “Summer 2017’s First Big Flop.” Uhhh…congratulations? To celebrate, what do you get the movie who has nothing, including dismal reviews, bad box office, and its franchise hopes dashed? How about a mild Alabama Liberal review that points out what the movie does right? I’m just kidding, this thing is garbage. And I can’t even salute Guy Ritchie on making a fairly fresh take on the King Arthur legend since he’s basically just using a lot of the same tricks he did for the “Sherlock Holmes” movies including witty fast cutting of exposition scenes, more modern-dialogue, and Jude Law. Even 2004’s “King Arthur” movie (starring Clive Owen as a down-to-Earth take on the legend) did something more unique, and it was also a creative and financial disappointment but it’ll still probably make more money without inflation than this Arthur tale that cost more money to make. Damn…you have to wonder if Charlie Hunnam wouldn’t have been better off starring in those lousy but profitable “50 Shades” movies.
What Works: Well, uhhh, there’s ummm…I’m sure the catering was really top-notch when they were making this. Also, I did like the sequence where Jude Law’s nefarious uncle schemes to get control of the throne (and hold onto it) by summoning the most hellish sea creatures this side of The Little Mermaid’s Ursula. I’m talking about three—are they mermaids?—“mermaids” that slither around in a Gordian knot of tentacles. They probably have a total of five minutes screentime but the Faustian bargains they offer are whispered in creepy, seductive tones that make the movie close to memorable for a minute.
What Doesn’t: Although it’s nice to hear Hunnam speak in his real dialect after seven seasons of muddling through a SoCal accent on “Sons of Anarchy,” this role doesn’t offer a real chance for acting. Hunnam is still best in scenes where he’s asked to charm women characters—perhaps the reason he was cast in “50 Shades” in the first place—but is less charismatic in bland action roles like this and “Pacific Rim” that he’s oddly ill-suited for despite being cast in them often. Law plays a variation on his usual “The Young Pope” unlikeable side, but the supporting cast is beyond bland and without any real distinction.
The biggest problem for this film is the genre its in feels played-out and “Arthur” had to do a lot better than add in cockney dialogue and flash-cutting to make us feel like we hadn’t seen this before.
What I Would Have Done Differently: In twelve years, a studio executive may be sitting there thinking “Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve had a ‘King Arthur’ movie. Why don’t we–” and then he’ll be fired on the spot. If Disney can’t make this a hit in 2004, and Warner Brothers can’t make it a hit this year, and Martin Lawrence couldn’t make “Black Knight” a hit in 2001, I’m really not sure how the 2029 300 million dollar sci-fi epic “Arthur in Space” will be a hit either.