King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review
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The story of King Arthur has played out on the big screen time and time again, told by different filmmakers in different styles. But I think it’s safe to say that with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, director Guy Ritchie tells the story like you’ve never seen it before.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword follows the story of a young boy who managed to escape the battle that killed his father, England’s King Uther (Eric Bana). Sent away on a boat, he finds his way to the town of Londinium, where he’s raised in a brothel. It isn’t until years later that a street-smart young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) discovers his true identity when he dislodges Excalibur from its stone. And as he goes on the run with a band of rebels, he struggles to come to grips with his past and his legacy.

Part King Arthur fantasy, part Guy Ritchie crime drama, this action-packed adventure takes a whole lot of liberties with the classic story. Not only do its settings and time period often feel awkward and uncomfortable, but it tends to pick and choose which parts of the legend to use and which to rearrange completely. So if you spend too much time trying to figure out how it all works within the Arthur legends, it’ll make your head spin.

There are times, though, when it feels like a classic Guy Ritchie film—when Arthur and his friends are gathered together in their Londinium brothel, telling stories of their adventures. It’s all quick cuts and quick wit. At other times, though, Ritchie pushes it all too far—and those quick cuts can be so excessive that they make the film feel like a really long trailer.

Still, the action has some thrilling moments, with plenty of gritty combat and sword fights and gigantic magical creatures. And Hunnam’s Arthur is an entertaining character—a scrappy, swaggering outlaw who suddenly finds himself in a world that’s entirely foreign to him. Really, it can, at times, be a whole lot of fun to watch—if you can forget that you’re supposed to be watching the story of King Arthur.

Despite its excesses and complexities, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword can be an entertaining fantasy. It’s fast-paced and often witty, with plenty of over-the-top Summer Blockbuster-style action. But perhaps its greatest flaw is that it just doesn’t work as a King Arthur movie. So if you can separate the film from the legend, you might just enjoy it.

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