Review by Julian Lytle
Basically: What if Snatch was in the Lord of the Rings? Or if Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels happened in the Game of Thrones?
Another decade, another take on King Arthur. You can’t not know something about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, because the entertainment industry sure won’t let you. So, what can make a person want to see another movie about this story? Maybe this dude, Guy Ritchie. Guy has been on a pretty solid run of good movies post-Madonna break up: RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes 1 & 2, and the excellent and underrated Man From U.N.CL.E., leading us to Camelot. When Arthur’s father, King Uther (Eric Bana), is ousted by his younger brother Vortigern (the young pope Jude Law) and Vortigern takes the throne of England—on some Scar from Lion King level betrayal—baby Arthur sails away like Moses in a small boat. Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grows up into a very likeable street hustler living in a brothel, on the streets of Londinium.
After the usual lore—pulling the sword from the stone, going on engaging adventures, learning to be a leader worthy of taking the kingdom from his uncle—a bunch of schemes and clashes with the government lead Arthur to the resistance. There is a ton of humor in this, especially the kind found in that classic London street movie from early in Ritchie’s career. There’s also some great back-and-forth with Hunnam and his co-stars, Djimon Hounsou’s Sir Bedivere, Aiden Gillen’s Bootstrap Bill, Kingsley Ben-Adir’s Wet Stick, and Neil Maskell’s Back Lack. Hounsou and Gillan work like uncles, always letting him know he’s not too big to get knocked down a peg, while Wet Stick and Back Lack play great best friends. Astrid Bergés-Frisbey plays the Mage sent by Merlin to assist the situation. A lot of the magic-wielder stuff is not explained well on the bad guy side of the plot, but her part is done pretty well. It’s great to see a woman that really isn’t a love interest at all, but a real ally that is part of the heroic group.
Legend of the Sword doesn’t feel too long, or rushed in its pacing, and while we don’t know if it will get its planned five sequels, this is a pretty good movie by itself.
In The End: After a rocky and confusing first 10 minutes, sit back and enjoy a fresh and enjoyable take on a very tried and true fantasy story that’s been told to death.