The trailer for this film caught my attention months ago. From childhood, I have loved the stories of Camelot, of Arthur who became king, and his knights of the round table. I didn’t have an opportunity to see the movie before leaving on my trip. When I returned, I was sure I had missed the latest version of King Arthur. I was delighted to discover the movie was still playing at a local theater.
King Arthur Legend of the Sword stars Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, and Eric Bana. This action adventure drama was directed by Guy Ritchie and carries a PG-13 rating for sequences of violence and brief strong language. It has a run time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.
The story begins with a fierce battle between King Uther Pendragon (Bana) of Camelot and the dark mage, Mordred. King Uther defeats Mordred, using his sword, Excaliber. But the victory is short lived. Uther’s power hungry brother, Vortigern (Law), stages a coup, taking the crown by force. Before his death, King Uther sends his young son away in a boat, to the city of Londinium.
The boy Arthur is taken in by the women of a brothel. He grows up on the streets, fighting, stealing, hoarding away what money he scrapes together. As a man, Arthur (Hunnam) has learned to survive by his fists and his wits, street smart, with a good heart beneath a tough exterior.
Although he doesn’t consciously remember who he is, he has troubling dreams that haunt him. Fate intervenes. The sword Excaliber is revealed, embedded in a stone, when the sea inexplicably recedes. No man has been able to free the sword from the stone. Vortigern seeks advice from the sirens in the lake beneath the castle. They tell the dark hearted king that his nephew Arthur lives and he must be destroyed so that the sword can come to Vortigern, increasing his power.
Young men about Arthur’s age are brought to the kingdom, to try pulling the sword from the stone. Arthur is arrested in Londinium, and brought to the stone. Before a crowd of people, including Vortigern’s henchmen, the Blacklegs, Arthur frees the sword, signifying his right to the throne.
Vortigern must kill Arthur to obtain the sword, and ultimately, supreme power. Arthur must remember who he is, whether he wants to or not, to be able to wield Excaliber. He is assisted in his journey of remembrance by a female Mage (Berges-Frisbey), sent by Merlin, and King Uther’s former general, Bedevere (Hounsou).
As they prepare to battle Vortigern for the kingdom, the trio assembles a group of common but noble-hearted men who are willing to sacrifice everything to put the rightful heir on the throne.
I loved this movie! It is the kind of epic adventure, with a hero’s transformative journey at the heart of it, that so inspires me. This is the genre of movie that spoke to me so deeply as a child, and continues to enthrall me.
And I appreciated the fresh telling of a familiar story. Guy Ritchie, known for his two Sherlock Holmes films, brings his characteristic style to this classic tale. And it works. At least, it did for me! The characters’ clothing has been updated, a slightly modern twist that creates a wonderfully sensual and rugged look. The dialogue is sharp and surprisingly funny at times.
The scenes are beautifully choreographed, whether they are depicting battles or the angst of self discovery, and behind all is an outstanding musical score. Jude Law deliciously portrays the dark and villainous bad uncle. However, this is Charlie Hunnam’s film. He shines as the reluctant young man who should be crowned king.
I read that King Arthur Legend of the Sword is intended to be the first installment in a six part series. I hope that is true. I can’t wait for more of the Arthurian legends to come to life on the big screen, under Ritchie’s creative direction.