When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern, Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword Excalibur from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy… whether he likes it or not.
These days have been a bit of a movie marathon with the kids being here since the 24th so we have made quite a dent in the to-watch shelf of my movie collection.
Yesterday it was time for some rehashing of the Pendragonian legends in the form of King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword. Usually I find it dangerous business to mess with classical and well proven stories. Do not fix what is not broken and all that. I did, however, find this rehash quite entertaining.
The base of the story is of course, and thankfully, the same: Uther is killed, Excalibur ends up in a stone, Arthur pulls Excalibur out of the stone, lots of swordfights, Arthur becomes king. The details of that story is rehashed quite a lot though.
The movie opens up with some fairly cool action where Uther combats Mordred (yes Mordred already in the opening scenes, as I said, rehash…) who attacks Camelot with black magic and king-sized (pun intended) combat elephants. I cannot say too much about what happens without spoiling a lot but the sword ends up in the stone and Arthur ends up…somewhere else.
So already from the start the movie asserted two things, that it is a different take on the Pendragon saga and that it is fairly heavy on action, black magic and special effects. I was a bit worried about the rehashing of the saga bit at this point but, as you have already deduced from the above, overall I quite enjoyed the movie.
The movie proceeds by showing us Arthur growing up in a bit more misery than the traditional stories do but it does so in more or less fast forward mode and we arrive rather quickly to the point were Arthur pulls out the sword from the stone.
This is were I have a bit of a gripe with the movie. This moment felt a bit anticlimactic and even disappointing. There was not big moment of awe just confusion. As the movie blurb hints at, Arthur is neither ready nor willing to become a king. So at this point everyone has to go through the hassle of convincing him. I rarely like this reluctant hero concept. Boring!
Luckily Arthur has a merry band of friends to help him chose the right path and this is were the movie spends quite a bit of time. With Arthur as a bit of a Robin Hood in the woods and him and his compadres nibbling at Vortigern’s heels. Of course every so often Arthur is nudged towards his destiny and the action when he decides, well is forced is perhaps more correct, to pick up Excalibur it becomes a bit of an FX feast.
In terms of acting and characters I would say that they all made a fairly good job of it. Arthur himself is stuck with the reluctant hero role, which I am not too found of as I wrote before, but he is doing a decent enough job of it. Vortigern is not bad as the chief bad guy. I did like the mage although most of the time she was looking into the distance and flapping her eyelids. That is when things were happening though. You do NOT want this gal to flip her eyelids at you!
Naturally everything was slowly building up towards the big bada boum between Arthur and Vortigern and, again, I think this was fairly well done. Lots of action, lots of magic and lots of FX. I really enjoyed how things played out at the end and all the visuals. One thing that I did like more with this version of the story, okay bit of a spoiler ahead, is that it did not end as tragically as the usual King Arthur story.
Bottom line, if you are set in stone as to what the Pendragon saga should be then watch another movie. If not and you’re up for some nice fantasy action adventure in the Pendragon universe you might like this movie. I did!