‘King Arthur’ has been told better

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BY ROGER THOMAS

      There have been many film adaptions of the legend of King Arthur throughout the years. Of course, any good story can be told and interpreted in new and fresh ways. I entered “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” with hopeful expectations. I was disappointed in the first fifteen minutes.

     There were two issues right at the beginning. The first is a technical one. The film over all is dark. Not sinister, though there are evil villains, rather I am pointing out that the cinematography is dark. To add to that, I saw the film in 3-D and those plastic glasses made everything even darker.

     The second objection I had right at the beginning was the film seemed to be a music video. Or perhaps I should say two lengthy music videos. The music changed but the tempo remained the same. Too much was happening on screen to offer, at least, some dialogue for clarification. None came during the first many minutes of the film.

     However, when the blaring music finally did stop, and the dialogue started, I begin to miss the music. Needless to say, this screenplay is not profound or thought provoking. 

     “King Arthur” is directed by Guy Ritchie. He has given the film world two “Sherlock Holmes” films. Neither of them are memorable, but either of the two is better than “ King  Arthur.” Ritchie has announced that another “Holmes” is on the way. He also did a film adaption of the old television show “The Man from Uncle.” Of all Ritchie’s works, “Uncle” would be my favorite. 

     Ritchie has also climbed aboard the recent train that takes one to the role of directing a live-action version of a previous animated film. The director has been chosen to direct the new version of “Aladdin” starring Will Smith. I am looking forward to that new adaptation.

     But back to “King Arthur.” After the music videos ceased, there were some moments that worked better than others. However, many of the scenes seemed familiar, as if they were lifted from other films.  There are also some scenes that should have been more tightly edited. Conversations are important, but in an action film, they can drag out the plot. The film is two hours and six minutes but is seems much longer.

      As for the cast, Charlie Hunnam, who plays Arthur, is much better in a great film called “The Lost City of Z,” which is playing in theaters now. Jude Law has done a lot of great work throughout his career; this film will be forgotten in the midst of his better films and he should be thankful for that. Other familiar faces one might spot are Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, and Aidan Gillen. These three actors have done many things through the years. There were a lot of other cast members but none of them truly stood out.

      Then there are the effects. As I stated earlier, much of the film was too dark. That may have been intentional so that the audience did not see the effects clearly. I suppose there were a few moments. The elephants at the beginning seem to announce, “This is a different kind of Camelot.”  And that it is.  

     It has been written that the plans are to make six films about this version of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Yes, the Round Table appears in the final moments of “King Arthur.”  Those plans might be reconsidered since the first weekend “King Arthur” was in theaters it made a mere $14 million, less than a fourth of what the leading film did. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2”  grossed $63 million in its second week. “Guardians” may one day have a sixth film, but I am pretty sure “King Arthur” will not.

Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.

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