Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

PLOT: After his parents are killed, a young boy destined to be king narrowly escapes a similar fate. Once he is of age, after years of finding his own way and a familiar sword in the stone incident, he comes to the realization that he must return to take back the kingdom that is rightfully his.

REVIEW: The classic stories of King Arthur and Excalibur have been told time and time again on the big screen. And while a few of these adventures have proven to be quite thrilling, many fall into the mediocre category. With the upcoming KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, I was afraid that the Guy Richie directed feature would fall heavily into the latter category. Thankfully, while flawed, he has brought us an energetic new adventure that is a more enjoyable ride than I had anticipated. While it falls flat for a number of reasons, it is not nearly as bad as one would have expected. It may fall closer on the scale to the Heath Ledger flick A KNIGHT’S TALE as opposed to the brilliance of EXCALIBUR, yet it is still an enjoyable experience.

king arthur guy richie legend of the sword eric bana jude law adventure action 2017

When a young boy destined to be king is robbed of his birthright to take the throne by his evil Uncle Vortigern (Jude Law), he must fend for himself in a rough and tumble world. By building up his strength and fighting in local brawls, he is able to make some money and fend for himself. When Vortigern is faced with the knowledge that his brother’s son is still alive after a strange and familiar young man is able to take the iconic sword from the stone, he realizes he must stop his nephew from overthrowing his tyrannical rule and put an end to his hunger for power. When Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is ready, he builds his own small army to stop the unstable king and take back his kingdom. With the help of The Mage (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), the fierce young man is ready to battle his uncle and his army once and for all.

After several years as Jax Teller on Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam has been looking for the right vehicle to bring him big screen success. Sure he had PACIFIC RIM and CRIMSON PEAK. However, his performance in both of those was never a highlight in either the massive robot battle filled feature or the gothic romance. As Arthur, the actor is able to literally and figuratively flex his muscles with a better than expected performance. He, along with Bergès-Frisbey and Djimon Hounsou do well enough with what they are given. However, all Hunnam really has to do is fight, look good in an undershirt – I sincerely doubt that this kind of attire that was around back then – and appear to be a tough guy. He is able to do this well enough, still giving Arthur a little bit of humor in the process. This is not a great performance on any level, but he offers a bit of charm as a kingly hero.

Guy Richie has always brought a fast-paced, kinetic style to his work. This is no exception. The slow motion and the stylized violence works well enough, even if some of the fight sequences feel a tad clunky. If you are looking for a big and loud summer popcorn flick, you may very well enjoy the absurdity of it all. However, if you are looking for a smart script about this classic tale of vengeance, you won’t get that here. You can credit Joby Harold, Guy Richie and Lionel Wigram with a story by David Dobkin for this rollicking bit of ridiculousness. And while not a smartly crafted tale, it manages to not take itself too seriously. What you have here is simple mindless entertainment that has its roots in the classic tellings of yesteryear.

jude law king arthur charlie hunnam guy richie legend of the sword adventure action 2017

Jude Law hits all the right notes as the villainous Vortigern. The actor keeps things slightly grounded, but finds the perfect moments to bring madness to his evil ruler. There is a bit of scene-chewing, but it works rather well considering how light the material is. Another solid show comes from the very talented Aidan Gillen, one of Arthur’s sidekicks. As well, Eric Bana shows up as Arthur’s father Uther and he gives a far better performance than the film actually deserves. Even still, most involved appear to be having a laugh with this one, and frankly I was entertained throughout, even if there is little that is particularly memorable aside from Law’s big screen baddie.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD is simply put, a fun ride. If you are looking to just grab a popcorn and forget all the real drama in life, you may enjoy this for what it is. The action is mostly solid aside from a couple of messy action sequences, and the on-screen talent is good enough for this kind of material. One of my favorite things about the film happens to be the bombastic score by Daniel Pemberton, who livens up the proceedings quite nicely. This may not be a full on return to form for Mr. Richie, but it has something engaging to bring those hungry for a little sword and sorcery. Not nearly as terrible as I had expected, this is a fine flick to spend a little bargain matinee enjoyment with. It may just be a big mindless adventure, but it is still occasionally engaging and perhaps worth a look for those in love with this fanciful story.




Viewer Ratings (0 reviews)

Add your rating


About the Author

3140 Articles Published

JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.