Poor Guy Ritchie. The ex-hubby of Madonna and director of entertaining British Jason Statham‑starring crime capers such as ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch’ just can’t catch a break. Less than two years removed from his unenthusiastically received big-screen adaptation of the campy ‘60’s spy series ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ (reviewed here: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), his latest feature, the $175 million sword-and-sorcery epic ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,’ only managed to fall on Excalibur instead and disembowel itself at the box office. Ouch.
Intended as the first entry in a new King Arthur/Knights of the Round Table franchise (now in doubt undoubtedly), KA:LotS retells the story of Arthur’s (Charlie Hunnam) origin, starting from his father King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) being betrayed by his power-hungry and treacherous uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) to his eventual restoration to the throne. The story is a familiar one, albeit updated with the latest visual effects, a contemporary sensibility and the quippy rapid-fire dialogue that has become a trademark of Guy Ritchie movies.
It’s not difficult to see why KA:LotS crashed and burned so badly both critically and commercially. This latest retelling of one of our most cherished legends is a decidedly messy affair that’s hard to digest. While boasting a talented cast, most of whom did okay, the film is pretty much “all sound and fury, signifying nothing” while lacking substance with an over-abundance of action. Shamelessly riding the coat-tails of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ visually and stylistically, KA:LotS seems content to dish out one overblown set-piece action sequence after another, never slowing down enough to show that it cares about the characters or ponder their significance.