The Culture Movies

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ lands with a thud

The movie is compulsively watchable, but it’s watchable in the same way as a massive train wreck or the slow-motion demolition of a high-rise.

Charlie Hunnam in a scene from “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”
Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
|
Caption
( PG-13 )
  • Peter Rainer
    Film critic

Guy Ritchie’s monumentally thudding “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” comes across like an Arthurian mashup of “Game of Thrones” and “Lord of the Rings.” Ritchie is so adept that the film is compulsively watchable, but it’s watchable in the same way as a massive train wreck or the slow-motion demolition of a high-rise.

Charlie Hunnam plays Arthur as a brawling tough guy whose posse includes such other thuggish stalwarts as Djimon Hounsou’s Bedivere and the archer Bill, played by Aidan Gillen from “Game of Thrones.” Chief bad guy is Jude Law’s Vortigern, who steals the crown from his older brother Uther (Eric Bana) and has a penchant for morphing into a fire-breathing CGI monster.

Ritchie brings the same skill set to this film as he did to his “Sherlock Holmes” movies – and I don’t mean that as a compliment, except that at least in this film the upsetting of romantic genre expectations is so complete that it carries a certain morbid fascination. This is not your father’s King Arthur legend. It may not be yours, either. Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content, and brief strong language.)