Charlie Hunnam as Arthur; Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as The Mage; Jude Law as Vortigern; Djimon Hounsou as Bedivere; Eric Bana as Uther; Aidan Gillen as Bill; Freddie Fox as Rubio; Craig Mc
Ginlay as Percival; Tom Wu as George; Kingsley Ben-Adir as Wet Stick; Neil Maskell as Back Lack

Movie Review

To paraphrase Kermit, it’s not easy being king.

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Just ask Vortigern, proud monarch of the ancient British Isles. I mean, it took him some time just to become king—what with his annoyingly do-gooding brother, Uther Pendragon, being the rightful ruler & all.

Uther’s heroism and handy magic sword, Excalibur, certainly didn’t make bumping the guy off any easier, either: It took a hulking death demon to finally vị the deed, violently sending Uther khổng lồ the great beyond. And even that didn’t go as smoothly as Vortigern would’ve liked. Excalibur was lost in the fight, sinking down to lớn the briny depths. Và Uther’s young son, Arthur, was lost, too. Not killed, but lost. The 2-year-old prince hopped on a boat và floated away before Vortigern could snap him up & snap him in two, a fate that would’ve ended Uther’s kingly line forever.

But hey, how far can a 2-year-old get on a boat, right?

So Vortigern, newly crowned king, turns his attention lớn other matters—namely purging Britain of its mages, repressing its people, selling its children into slavery và turning the isles themselves in to barren, charred wastelands. It’s all about keeping up with the Saurons, after all.

Oh, & he also has a massive magic tower to lớn build. Once the final đen stone is in place, he’ll be, like, really powerful, in some mystical-yet-indeterminate way.

Yes, being king, what with its litany of duties and its occasional human sacrifice, is just work, work, work.

But as if Vortigern didn’t have enough on his to-do list, the water mysteriously drains around the castle, revealing the long-lost sword of Excalibur—firmly stuck in a stone. The British peons—er, people—begin whispering that the sword belongs to lớn the true king. If only someone could pluck the blade from that chunk of magical granite, things would get a bit better.

What? Vortigern gasps. Don’t these miserable little—er, I mean, dutiful subjects appreciate all the work that I’ve done on their behalf? Are you saying they don’t appreciate my gentle threats and beatings? Clearly, I’ll have to, um, encourage loyalty a little more … fiercely.

Then he turns his attention to Arthur. Uther’s young son must be in his 20s by now, Vortigern realizes. & he’s the only one who can không tính tiền and use the sword.

Best lớn force every young man in the kingdom khổng lồ try to lớn pull the sword out, the king figures: Those who try and fail are miễn phí to go. Why, he’ll even give them a miễn phí brand on their hand as a parting gift. Và the one who succeeds? Why, Vortigern will give that young man a very, very special gift: an opportunity to reunite with his father và mother in the hereafter. Oh, sure, getting lớn that reunion might be a little … painful. But the best things always are, aren’t they?

Now, where did he put that hulking demon of death again?

Positive Elements

Arthur showcases many admirable character traits. First, he demonstrates his loyalty to lớn the women who raised him—protecting them from men who would physically abuse them. Arthur cares for many who cross his path—even would-be enemies. As he says, “Why have enemies when you can have friends?” và you get the sense, eventually, that he wants his people khổng lồ have a better ruler.

Still, Arthur’s reluctant to pick up the mantle of becoming Britain’s savior. Doing so will mean not only significant risk, but facing his long-buried memories and psychological demons. It’s understandable, as a mage tells him at one point. “I look away ,” she says. “We all look away. But that is the difference between a man & a king.” Eventually, Arthur does act in kingly fashion, facing his terrifying memories khổng lồ fully embrace his role as Britain’s true protector.

Many others perform valiantly in Arthur’s service too, often risking their own lives lớn protect his.

Spiritual Elements

Arthurian legends have always been imbued with magic, và this CGI spectacle may push the mysticism quotient up a rung or two from there.

We’re told from the get-go that “men & mages” lived in peace for centuries before an evil mage named Mordred stirred up those wizards & declared war on mankind. A mage also helps Arthur in his quest to lớn reclaim the throne, showing an ability to lớn control & even (it seems) conjure animals. All of this suggests that mages are a different species from regular ol’ folks lượt thích Arthur and Vortigern.

But the film also suggests that mortal men can become magical, or wield magic, under certain conditions: Vortigern’s tower seems lớn infuse him at least temporarily with some magical abilities. & Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, is clearly enchanted in its own right. (We hear that the sword was formed from a mage staff.)

We see mythological creatures, including dryads (wood spirits) & the quasi-angelic Lady of the Lake. A demonic warrior—a pumped-up medieval depiction of death (complete with an exposed skull & a scythe-like weapon) is conjured using the darkest of dark magic.

There’s a reference lớn hell. Arthur “blesses” one of his enemies. There are several references to lớn the world needing to lớn be in “balance,” an understanding that suggests Eastern spirituality. Arthur goes lớn the “darklands,” a place perhaps more spiritual than physical. He gets there by pressing a stone into a kind of altar; when he returns from that realm, the film suggests that he didn’t physically move at all.

The film also contains scads of religious allusions (accidental or intended) lớn Christian and pagan stories. For example, graffiti scrawled across walls (representing Arthur’s fledgling rebellion) can be interpreted in multiple ways. Essentially a circle topped with a cross, it looks quite literally like a sword stuck in a circular stone. But it also resembles the pagan symbol for Venus (and, by extension, women) turned upside down. The cross-topped orb is also a traditional symbol of medieval monarchy that symbolizes Christ’s supremacy over the world.

Sexual Content

Vortigern parlays with a massive, tentacled trùm cuối that’s made partly of naked women. The women’s critical parts are obscured by either tentacles or water, but we bởi vì see the side of one’s breast. Similarly, the dryads we see are naked (albeit barky) female forms embracing or attached lớn trees.

When Arthur is very young, he’s discovered by a bevy of prostitutes, who take him in và raise him. (He believes that he was the son of one of them.) We don’t see the women engaged in any overt sexual activity, but they vày wear garb that sometimes falls off their shoulders and showcases cleavage. Arthur becomes a sort of caretaker for the women in the brothel, protecting them at times from violent ruffians. When the brothel is raided by soldiers, one man tries to make trouble with Arthur, telling his superior that Arthur touched him. The man tells the soldier that he should consider himself lucky: “Most people need khổng lồ pay for that.”

Arthur is attracted lớn the female mage who comes khổng lồ his aid. He asks her, “Are you falling for me like I’m falling for you?” In response, the mage causes the horse carrying Arthur to buck him off.

Violent Content

But there’s far more violence than horse bucking, naturally. The body toàn thân count has got to be at least in the hundreds here.

Anonymous soldiers perish by the score. Some get vaporized by blasts of magic, or hewn through (largely bloodlessly) by swords. They’re also done in by arrow strikes, sword blows and dramatic falls into deep canyons. One woman is skewered by a large spear (which flies straight through her). A man is impaled on a scythe. Women are stabbed in the back as part of a heinous sacrifice: The corpse of one is claimed by a slithering, perhaps demonic monster. Massive—and I mean massive—elephants swipe the ground & crush people with their trunks và feet. A huge snake gobbles up several victims. Another, normal-sized snake bites someone.

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Animals suffer plenty, too. Arthur fights with huge rats. Gigantic bats carry Arthur around & squabble with each other, with one getting consumed by a very sizable snake. Another snake is cut in two, splashing blood on the killer. A horse is purposefully driven khổng lồ its doom.

Several people receive & nurse bloody, painful wounds. One man has his ear sliced off before his throat is cut. (We don’t explicitly see either slash up close.) Someone’s hit painfully in the thigh with arrows. The sword’s great power knocks Arthur out. Elsewhere, he beats up several people, leaving their faces bloodied. One unfortunate gets turned khổng lồ stone. Corpses are strewn about a hideout. Someone else nearly has his head chopped off. Arthur grows up fighting và training under the tutelage of a kung fu master, và we see Arthur beat—and get beaten—plenty.

In a montage, Arthur walks in on several men raising their hands khổng lồ strike prostitutes; once he’s old enough, he grabs the fist of an assailant and puts a stop lớn it. Later, we see one prostitute with multiple cuts & bruises caused by her last customer.

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"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is remembered as a box office bomb, but Guy Ritchie"s fantasy film deserves another look.


The latest epic The Green Knight offers a surreal take on an Arthurian legend, proving that despite being around for centuries there’s always a way lớn put the spin on the tales of King Arthur và his Knights of the Round Table. Movies inspired by these legends have been popping up for decades, & here I will come to lớn the defense of one very, very, expensive take on King Arthur that deserves to lớn be remembered for more than its box office implosion: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

The Guy Ritchie-directed fantasy epic was meant to be the first in a shared universe of movies because seemingly everything is nowadays, và Warner Bros. Was so confident in this project they dumped around $175 million into the production. But neither audiences nor critics were having it, và the movie whiffed out at around $140 million around the world, losing tens of millions for WB. But while the movie has been relegated khổng lồ the bin of great box office blunders, there are several reasons why this movie rules incredibly hard, và here I will list a few that will hopefully validate giving it another go (or even your first) và revel in this bonkers, once-in-a-lifetime take on the legend of King Arthur.

Image via Warner Bros.
Legend of the Sword uses its opening minutes to lớn show off elephants that make the Mûmakil from Lord of the Rings look lượt thích French bulldogs completely annihilating soldiers on the ground and bashing down structures. Looking at that balls-to-the-wall sequence – as well as other the insane phối pieces – it’s no wonder where the price tag came from. But Ritchie và his team used every penny lớn craft a wild fantasy adventure that establishes its own unique world filled with gnarly creatures, superpowered swordplay, diabolical magic, & arresting production và costume thiết kế – much of it brought to kinetic life with James Herbert’s editing. Fantasy movies are a gamble (as made clear here), but everything was put on the line lớn make Legend of the Sword a high-fantasy blockbuster that brought the genre into the modern movie landscape, and it looks and feels like something we’re likely not going lớn see again any time soon.

Image via Warner Bros.
Ritchie is one of those directors where even if his movie isn’t great, they still have a distinct sense of style và madcap energy, và with Legend of the Sword, he brings it all together to infuse what was arguably a blank check with a brazen ferocity. His hallmarks – from the kind of kích hoạt seen in Sherlock Holmes to the cast interplay of Snatch – help give the impressive visual scope the needed energy lớn feel lượt thích more than just empty CGI, all while setting the plotting apart from the many, many other films of the medieval genre. His decision with the co-writing team to give this origin story a gritty, grime-y gangster feel to lớn it could’ve been a turn-off for some, but that style is simply something he does so well that with Arthur’s gutter-to-greatness arc it works quite well, infusing a fantasy adventure with a heist-movie feel that further gives King Arthur a distinct personality in an age when so many bloated blockbusters are duller than a cardboard Excalibur.

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The Ensemble

Image via Warner Bros.
Great casts are another hallmark of Ritchie’s, & with Charlie Hunnam leading the crew as the fast-talking, Dickensian take on Arthur, the cast as a whole step up khổng lồ the plate khổng lồ make the soon-to-be Knights of the Roundtable a likable band of rogues. Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Tom Wu, Neil Maskell, Annabelle Wallis, and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey are all welcome personalities that flesh out Arthur’s journey, with Eric Bana too making the most out of his short time as the badass Uther Pendragon. They dive headfirst into the crackling dialogue & high-energy kích hoạt with not a dull sword in the bunch, and it’s a shame we won’t be able khổng lồ see them flesh out their characters more in the future.

Image via Warner Bros.
But operating on his own platform is Jude Law in the villain role as Vortigern, playing him with seductive energy. Law plays the tyrannical leader who has his soldiers salute him en masse like a fascist dictator with delectable aplomb, all while wearing the hell out of Annie Symons’ costumes. Velvet jackets, leather pants, long fur coats, menacing-yet-cool armor; Law’s Vortigern looks like he could rule the world with an iron gauntlet và still make it time to headline the latest Tom Ford show. But he also plays to the villains’ reluctance and turmoil, sacrificing his wife to lớn morph into a child demon knight to kill his brother (Bana). His work is measured & quietly evil compared lớn the fast-paced nature of everything else & makes the case for Law khổng lồ have more dastardly roles to chew on while out-dressing everyone around.

Saving the best for last, Daniel Pemberton’s score is the true star of Legend of the Sword. Even among all the impressive visuals và fine performances, the visceral, raw, breathtaking music blows past them all with a cacophony of sounds & influences that probably shouldn’t work together but 100 percent does. Whether it’s the use of medieval instruments of all shapes and sizes to the guttural breaths & screams that lends a welcome dose of physicality for the faster-paced scenes, the level of personality Pemberton injects into the score khổng lồ make Legend of the Sword sound unlike anything in the genre is worthy of endless praise. Arguably more than the cast, visuals, and editing, Pemberton’s score sets the tone for the wildness khổng lồ come, và if you’re swept into the adventure like I was, we have this suitably fantastic score lớn thank.