King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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    Movie: :4stars:
    Video: :4.5stars:
    Audio: :4.5stars:
    Extras: :3stars:
    Final Score: :4.5stars:



    [​IMG] Movie

    I’m a bit of Arthurian lover, and more than a bit fanatical about the subject when I was young. I was home schooled for much of my younger school years (up until High School), and I had a mother who grew up believing that one of the first and foremost skills every young child needs was a strong foundation in literature. English and Literature classes were changed and adapted to suit my growing appetite for more and more books as I chewed through everything imaginable. I was reading the original unedited Robinson Crusue and The Three Musketeers in 5th grade (let me tell you, when you’re in 5th grade, the original Robinson Crusoe is a MONSTER of a book) and graduated me to a very moderately edited 6th grade, which featured a near unedited array of books surround King Arthur and his knights. That was the age I began to devour EVERYTHING I could about the famed king, from A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (not nearly as funny as you would think being billed as a comedy) to The Mists of Avalon. I loved the idea of knights, kings, damsels in distress, and magical swords. There was not a 5 gallon bucket that wasn’t transformed into a shield, and garden states were lashed together with twine and tape to form many an Excalibur in those days. Fast forward about 30 years and I still have a fondness for the tales of the Briton King, but my sword and faithful shield have been hung up for most of that time. When I heard that Guy Ritchie was going to direct a King Arthur movie I was instantly intrigued. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would NOT be in line with most of the traditional legends (this is Guy Ritchie, you just have to view his Sherlock Holmes to know that he has a penchant for modifying classic characters to suit his own strange tastes), but If shown through the classical “this is Guy Ritchie” filter, I was sure it would be entertaining. Yes, it features all of the classic Ritchie stylistic choices, including quick cuts, snarky British dialog, overly indulgent action scenes, a brooding super villain, and more cheeky snark.

    King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was actually supposed to be the first of a 6 film arc for Ritchie, but with a $175 million dollar budget and a worldwide gross of $140 million, that dream is pretty much dead (I have no idea why they thought a 6 film franchise was doable. Guy Ritchie has a distinct flair, and that flair is not always the type that rakes in Marvel and DC type profits). However, knowing that I have a strong love of Guy Ritchie and his overly indulgent films, I went in with an open mind to this review and came out with a big sloppy grin all over my face. Honestly, I had a blast despite some glaring flaws, poor casting choices (Charlie Hunnam is never a good choice for a serious role).

    We all know the story of King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin and the knights of the round table. Or at least the general idea. A multitude of differing legends have cast the King of the Britons in different lights over the years, and just as many minute variations of how he came to power exist. Guy Ritchie does what Guy Ritchie does best here and turns the whole series on its ear and just has fun with the source material, picking and choosing whom he wants in his movie and adapting them to his own whims. We meet King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) and his overly vicious brother Vortigern (Jude Law) after a war with the evil mage Mordrid. However, this peace is short lived as Vortigern has plans of oh his own to be king. Sacrificing his own wife as payment for magical power, the deceiver slaughters Uther’s family, leaving only his young son to escape. 20+ years later Vortigern is a monster who breeds fear wherever his dominance falls. Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) has grown up in isolation as a ward of a brothel, unknowing of his true lineage. When the tides of magic and fate change, the famous sword of the Pendragon line, Excalibur, reveals itself and clues Vortigern in to the fact that the heir of the Pendragon line is still out there.
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    Taking a bit from Pontias Pilate’s book, Vortigern begins to scour the countryside for someone who can pull the sword from the stone (knowing that it can only be a Pendragon), and soon our undesiring hero Arthur is there to pull it out. Knowing that Arthur is the only obstacle between him and total rule, Vortigern commits to having him executed, only to have his plan thwarted by a group of rebels led by Sir Bedivere (Djimoun Hounsou), a mage sent by Merlin himself (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), and a group of Arthur’s own mates from the brothel. Arthur now has to decide whether he wants to accept the mantle of responsibility and reclaim his father’s throne, or continue to be a thieving businessman who just wants to be left alone. As much as the young King to be wants the second option, fate has a powerful way of moving one in the direction that they were destined to fulfill, no matter how one may fight against it.

    King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a completely different take on the old legends than most people are used to. The tradition and repetition of previous movies are completely thrown out the wind, much like how Guy Ritche’s Sherlock Holmes reinvented the world’s most famous detective. Merlin isn’t present throughout the movie (although he IS mentioned), Uther actually had Excalibur before Athur, Mordrid was Uther’s foe and not Arthur’s, Arthur wasn’t a young squire pulling the sword from the stone, and Vortigern was an ancient King of the Britons with very little ties to Arthur in most legends. Still, despite these changes Guy Ritchie manages to craft a film that is both highly entertaining and cheekily “in your face” at the same time. If you’re looking for a traditional Arthurian legend, then you really will be disappointed. Ritchie employs his traditional use of nonstop verbal dialog that bounces back and forth with a narrator at lightning speed as well as ridiculous quick cuts that literally has your head spinning around (think Snatch or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). Then there’s the casting choices. Very few people look like classic Britons, with a kung George the Dragon Slayer (Tom Wu), A black Sir Bedevire, and a sword that has more magical power and personality than many of actors. Charlie Hunnam is the odd choice for Arthur, as the man’s wooden acting is pretty legendary (especially for a franchise that wanted to milk 6 films out of the deal). Hunnam hams it up like he normally does, playing his usual stilted dialog and smirking character from Pacific Rim and leaving most of the real acting up to Jude Law (who is deliciously evil).

    However, the film manages to be a blast despite those odd choices thanks to Ritchie’s impeccable use of dialog and extremely frenetic visual style. The action scenes are a bit weaker than I would have expected, but the overall pacing and tone of the movie is quite pleasing. The first act of the movie set things up perfectly, but the second act started to slow down to a crawl as Arthur pouted about becoming King. It’s not till the third act when Arthur actually decides to man up that the film picks up steam once more, resulting in the expected face off between the young King and father’s killer.




    Rating:

    Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language




    Video: :4.5stars:
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    I wasn’t able to view the 4K UHD at this point, but if it’s anything like the Blu-ray it will knock your socks off. The film was shot on Arri Alexa cameras and given a 2K digital intermediary and it really looks fantastic. Fans of Guy Ritchie will notice his trademark use of cool blues and light grays in the color grading, and the ever so slight use of a gauzy effect that gives the movie a dreamlike look. Blood and sharper primaries pop through ever so often, but the picture maintains a VERY dreary look of blues, grays, DEEEEEP inky blacks, and earthy tones throughout the film. The sky’s blueness is almost shocking against the dreary backdrop, and Vortigern’s castle interior shows some sparkling gold and silver to balance out all the blues. Black levels are impeccable, showing off incredible shadow detail and the brightly lit sequences show everything from the scars on Arthur’s face to the dirt under his fingernails.








    Audio: :4.5stars:
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    Warner once again gives us the privilege of enjoying the Dolby Atmos track on the Blu-ray and NOT just on the 4K UHD disc. A point of notice, usually most new Warner titles come with the Atmos track AND a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track (which tends to carry over as the main track on the 3D releases), but this one has ONLY the Atmos track (however the 3D disc does only have a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track as well for those wondering). Said Atmos track is incredibly immersive and powerful. Dialog is locked up front in the center, and the only thing that gets in the way of perfectly legible vocals are the thick accents which had me running for the subtitles quite often). Surrounds and overheads are engaged with a copious amount of action, including magical war elephants, a screeching bird overhead, or the crumbling sound of Vortigern’s mage’s tower as it falls around the listener, above the listener, and impacts deep with LFE. The bass is hard hitting and powerful, but isn’t cooked so hot as to be a non stop rumble from beginning to end. Instead it fades into the background when necessary, supports the track with a mild low end when it’s not needed, and then rocks you back into your seat when the action heats up. Simply put, an amazing track.






    Extras: :3stars:
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    Arthur with Swagger - Charlie Hunnam is a gentleman, a hunk and a rebel, setting new standards as king and new rules with the ladies.
    • Sword from the Stone - Director Guy Ritchie as he breathes 21st Century life and luster into England's most iconic legend and he creates Camelot for a new audience!
    • Parry and Bleed - Charlie Hunnam and other cast members get a crash course in swordplay. Vikings versus Saxons style!
    • Building on the Past - Londinium comes to life with a new design of Medieval Urban life, built from scratch.
    • Inside the Cut: The Action of King Arthur - Join stunt choreographer Eunice Huthart as she teams with Director Guy Ritchie to create the mind-blowing action of King Arthur
    • Camelot in 93 Days - Friendships and romances strengthen and fray as the realities of a 93 day shoot set in.
    • Legend of Excalibur - The world's most famous sword is brought to life for a new generation.
    • Scenic Scotland - Wrapping a monumental production on location in glorious Scotland.








    Final Score: :4.5stars:


    King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not a perfect film. In fact I ALMOST rated it a 3.5/5, but really couldn’t justify doing so (a 3.75/5 is a more accurate rating, but we don’t have that exact rating so I was forced to round up to 4/5). The action is decent, and the acting a bit odd, but Guy Ritchie’s unique charm adds a layer of fun to the movie that belies some of the cornier moments. The audio and video looks incredible, and the extras are worth checking out for sure. However, the film’s middle act may frustrate a few viewers as the kinetic film grinds to a sluggish crawl for about 45 minutes. I will fully admit the movie is flawed, but I had loads of fun watching it and, if you’re a fan of some of Ritchie’s later works such Sherlock Holmes then I dare say you will have fun as well. Recommended for a fun watch.




    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana
    Directed by: Guy Ritchie
    Written by: Guy Ritchie, Joby Harold
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1 AVC
    Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1, English DVS 5.1
    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Rated: PG-13
    Runtime: 126 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: Own King Arthur: Legend of the Sword on Blu-ray and DVD on August 8 or Own it Now on Digital HD!







    Recommendation: Fun Watch

     
    #1 Michael Scott, Aug 8, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
    Jon Liu and tripplej like this.
  2. tripplej

    tripplej AV Addict

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    Thanks for the review. I am curious to catch this one. I do like to watch period pieces. :)
     
  3. Sonnie

    Sonnie Senior Admin
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    Right up my alley... but it will be the 4K variety.
     
  4. Jon Liu

    Jon Liu Active Member

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    I went to pick this one up in stores, but no one had it. Target, Best Buy... neither of them had it. I might just have to order it online.
     
  5. Sonnie

    Sonnie Senior Admin
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    Got it from Amazon!
     

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