Guy Ritchie's "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" was intended to be a fantasy film for the ages. The movie which stars Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law, is based on the classic "Excalibur" story of how King Arthur made way his throne. The film was met with hype for its studly cast, but critics are not so pleased with this retelling of the medieval tale.
As of time of this posting, King Arthur holds an embarrassing 9 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, critics calling it a "vulgar movie for vulgar times" and "just another wannabe blockbuster with too much flash and not enough soul."
"Loud, bombastic and thuddingly obvious, this is a vulgar movie for vulgar times. Such synchronicity alone makes it worthy of cultural consideration of a certain kind...After using visual effects to extensively create huge masses of armies and mayhem, the film suddenly resorts to a herky-jerky video game approach in a climactic stand-off that looks quite lame in contrast to most of the action."
"If there ever had been a real Sherlock or Arthur, they would surely be horrified to see themselves depicted as such commonplace thugs...But ultimately, “King Arthur” is just a loud, obnoxious parade of flashy set pieces, as one visually busy, belligerent action scene after another marches by, each making less sense than the last, but all intended to overwhelm. That technique has served Richie well before — a sort of slick back-alley magic by which he distracts our attention in one direction, only to pull off something wondrous and surprising in the other, much to the audience's collective amazement. But in this case, the approach largely backfires, as attempts to dazzle with giant elephants, a scenery-chewing Jude Law, and an occasionally shirtless stud king (played by well-cast, but otherwise squandered “The Lost City of Z” star Charlie Hunnam) leaves us more confused than awestruck."
"The end result is a muddle of disinterest even if the narrative propulsion total boredom. Hunnam is a bland hero and the film mixes-and-matches Gladiator, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (a vastly superior dark-n-gritty origin story), Superman the Exodus story and generic Chosen One tropes into a relatively ill-fitting stew. Yes, I appreciated the emphasis on dialogue and plotting over non-stop action, but the plot stops being remotely interesting just as we're supposed to start caring. Oh, and it doesn't help matters that every single female character is around purely to be menaced and/or murdered to move the hero and/or villain's respective arcs. In the end, despite moments of Gods of Egypt-level craziness and some subversions of chronological narrative to spice up generic plot beats, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is every bit as unsatisfying and generic as we all feared."
"There are too many phony-looking special-effects sequences of giant marauding elephants and magical eel creatures to get to. It doesn't matter if they don't help the story; what seems to matter is that Ritchie had enough money at his disposal to conjure them, so why not spend it? Hunnam and his charismatic band of merry pranksters get lost in the sea of pixels. Which is a shame. Because King Arthur could have been a rollicking blast. Instead it's just another wannabe blockbuster with too much flash and not enough soul."
"Although it flickers to life at times, King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword devolves into a jumbled affair, weighed down by confusing supernatural elements and a lazy reliance on visual effects...Jude Law toils admirably as demonic proto-dictator Vortigern, but Hunnam's decision to play Arthur as a smirking lunk makes him hard to root for. Ritchie is clearly still adept at marshalling an inventive action set-piece, but all hopes that this is heading anywhere interesting are ultimately dashed."
"It's a messy mélange of the British filmmaker's own gangster pictures and Lord of the Rings, a medieval Avengers with Charlie Hunnam as the reluctant hero. The Sons of Anarchy star gives Arthur plenty of muscular charisma, but Legend of the Sword's overemphasis on the supernatural and the visually spectacular mortally wounds an often-rollicking adventure...A well-intentioned albeit unfocused effort to retell the legend, King Arthur offers a little campy fun yet is only a so-so stab at something new."
"If anything, the movie could have used more of an auteurist touch, more of the go-for-broke stylishness that recently allowed Ritchie to inject so much life into his under-appreciated “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” reboot. But that movie had Armie Hammer facing off with Elizabeth Debicki. This movie has Charlie Hunnam fighting against bad studio notes. The actor exudes more flinty-eyed charm here than he has in any of his previous blockbusters, but his blandness is still a stumbling block, and his character doesn't exactly endear himself with his Trump-like regrets about his new responsibilities (“I thought leading a revolution against that evil wizard would be easier”)."