By: Jonathan Pabico
If you’re searching for a worthwhile summer blockbuster, look no further than King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The film combines visual style, a talented cast, and an awesome music score. It’s expertly crafted into an original work that translates well for a modern-day audience.
Guy Ritchie, director of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, ups the ante with an interesting approach to the Arthurian legend. Ritchie uses the reluctant hero archetype for Arthur, but does it so well that he makes it clear it’s fitting to the film’s narrative. Ritchie’s genius is prominently shown in the iconic moment of Arthur drawing Excalibur from the rock. His smart direction succeeds in recreating the fearsome might of Arthur’s sword with sharp visuals that evoke its immense, ground-breaking power.
“Ritchie’s original approach to the Arthurian legend engages us with its commanding spectacles.”
The film’s music is simply phenomenal. Daniel Pemberton (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) provides a music score whose fast pace and rhythm holds a steady tone that matches the intensity of the film’s many action scenes. The music has an engaging momentum that maintains a firm grip on the audience. It keeps viewers in a state of excitement and anticipation, inciting them to not only want more, but to remain fixated on the story.
Even more impressive is the film’s cast. Charlie Hunnam (best known for Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy) is perfect as King Arthur. He delivers an outstanding performance in bringing about Arthur’s strength as a warrior and the torment the character feels from a past that won’t go away. Djimon Hounsou (best known for Blood Diamond) joins Hunnam in the film as Sir Bedivere, an ally of Arthur’s. Hounsou’s portrayal of a tempered and stoic character balances well with Hunnam’s fierce recklessness. Together, both actors create a powerful dynamic in this movie.
As for Jude Law, he makes for a surprisingly good villain. Having worked with Ritchie before in Sherlock Holmes, Law does not disappoint. Portraying the wicked King Vortigern, Law does an amazing job in showing the dark, cold personality of his character. Although there are times where it feels like he’s just being a deadly, even psychopathic, version of Watson, Law compensates for this shortcoming with a performance that resembles the tortured turmoil of Shakespeare’s King Macbeth. Immersed in shadow and barely lit backgrounds, Law’s portrayal enables the audience to experience his character’s twisted motivations.
Comic relief comes in the form of quick and snappy dialogue that supplies the story’s light-heartedness. Ritchie provides viewers with a witty atmosphere reminiscent of other films, such as The Grand Budapest Hotel and Ocean’s Eleven. As for the film’s action, it grabs your attention as quickly as Pemberton’s music score. From Arthur slaying foes with Excalibur to the intense final battle between Hunnam and Law’s characters, Ritchie’s original approach to the Arthurian legend engages us with its commanding spectacles.
Overall, Guy Ritchie makes this movie a worthwhile summer blockbuster. His smart direction is strongly reflected through the film’s visual style and superb cast. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword succeeds in entertaining modern-day viewers with an old classic, transforming it into a contemporary story.