"From myth to legend." "From nothing comes a king." "Take back the kingdom." These taglines all describe King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. This fantasy epic film directed by Guy Ritchie, written by Ritchie, Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram, loosely based on the Arthurian legend. Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy - whether he likes it or not.
Warner Bros. had tried to remake John Boorman's Excalibur (1981) with Bryan Singer to direct. But due to the commercial failure of Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), it was ultimately cancelled. Instead, Warner Bros. went through several stages to bring the Arthurian legend to the screen. The first version was to Kit Harington as King Arthur and Joel Kinnaman as Lancelot with David Dobkin at the helm. However, the cast was deemed too unknown, so it was delayed. The second version was to star Colin Farrell was cast as King Arthur and Gary Oldman as Merlin. However it was inevitability dropped as it was deemed too expensive. Ultimately, Guy Ritchie's pitch was eventually green-lit with a script by Ritchie, Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram, under the working title of Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur. The film was intended to be the first installment of a planned six film series. Ritchie then rounded his knights, Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney were among the list of contenders to play the title role. However, Ritchie's top choice was Charlie Hunnam. The final audition comprised two rounds. The first was a sit-down chat with Ritchie and the second round was a full-fledged audition. Ritchie instantly liked Hunnam after their ninety-minute talk. Hunnam performed equally well in the audition and won the role. For the female lead, Elizabeth Olsen, Felicity Jones and Alicia Vilkander were among the actresses considered. Ultimately, Ritchie cast Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey. By late February 2015, the cast had been rounded with established character actors that included Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law and Eric Bana. Principal photography began in March. Locations included Windsor, North Wales, the Northwest highlands of Scotland and the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden. Initially set for a July 22, 2016 release date, Warner Bros. then moved the date to February 17, 2017 in December 2015. Then in January 2016, the film was to be pushed back again to March 24, 2017. In July 2016, the title was changed to King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. In December 2016, the release was pushed back once again to May 12, 2017.
The film stars Hunnam, Bergès-Frisbey, Hounsou, Gillen, Law and Bana. The cast were unfortunately a letdown due to their underdeveloped characters and atrocious dialogue, despite their best efforts.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is both a wondrous vision and a mess. The film is all images flashing by with atrociously developed characters and dialogue, so we miss the dramatic intensity that we expect the stories to have. But thanks to Ritchie, there's always something to look at.
Simon says King Arthur: Legend of the Sword receives:
Also, see my review for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.