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Thursday, March 20, 2014

King Arthur (2004) a Movie Review.

King Arthur (Clive Owen)
The tagline for King Arthur states “The untold true story that inspired the legend” yet this isn't the tale of medieval knights we all grew up hearing. 

Most of us remember tales of King Arthur taking place in the 12th century this is because of the famous book Le Morte d'Arthur. The majority of historical events and battles attributed to King Arthur & his Knights of the Round Table took place during the 6th century. Some other notable Arthurian events took place in various other times and places this is most likely due to artistic embellishment. The titular King Arthur (Clive Owen) is based upon the roman soldier Lucius Artorius Castus and not the mythical Arthur Pendragon. Therefore, the events of this Arthurian film take place in the 3rd century rather than the more traditional medieval setting.  The names of the Knights of the Round Table are the same but the characters are all different, especially Merlin (Stephen Dillane) & Lady Guinevere (Keira Knightley) who are both Woad (Picts). This tale of King Arthur is also demystified; gone are any traces of magical swords, fire-breathing dragons, and powerful wizards.

Lady Guinevere (Keira Knightley)
King Arthur is an extremely well done film. The director Antoine Fuqua has created a realistic atmosphere completely stripping away the mythology. King Arthur is a very gritty and dark movie. This isn't your glossy romantic tale of chivalry. Lady Guinevere isn’t a lady in the traditional sense - she is no damsel in distress! This variant of Guinevere is a bow-wielding Celtic warrior.  Merlin isn't the pointy hat wearing wizard, in this film he is king of the Woads. Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) isn’t the chivalrous romantic knight, instead he’s a duel sword-wielding Sarmatian (what would be modern Iran) warrior. In fact, all the Knights of the Round Table are Sarmatian’s.  There is no kingdom of Camelot, rather a roman military outpost.  I’m not sure of the historical accuracy of this film, but it seems very real. If you have any knowledge of European or Arthurian history; you may have to dispel belief as some of the portrayed events took place at a much later time. The actors fit very well into their roles; I didn't find myself missing the traditional Arthurian lark.  I was pleasantly surprised by Ray Winstone’s portrayal of Bors the Younger.  Winstone provides comic relief, without being too silly.

Ray Winstone (Bors the Younger)

There are some very intense battle sequences; one very memorable one takes place on a frozen lake. If you are watching the theatrical release you might notice a lack of blood, this was done without the directors’ permission. The production company wanted to turn what should rightfully be an R-rated movie into a PG13 popcorn flick! If you do see this movie, I highly recommend the unrated director’s cut as it puts some of the blood and gore back into the fight. Some of the dialogue seems out of place like Guinevere telling Lancelot "Don't worry. I won't let them rape you," in response to him worrying about the invading Saxons. But, to make this completely realistic the only people speaking any English would be the Saxons. I wish the dialogue was more complex but modern Hollywood isn’t going to take that sort of risk. This is a PG13 movie produced by a Disney subsidiary and therefore must appeal to the masses of the Facebook generation. Despite all the changes and toned down violence this is a rather good movie. King Arthur isn't the best Arthurian film I've seen, but it’s far from the worst. That title goes to ‘First Knight’, the rom-com starring Richard Gere & Sean Connery.  I recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good adventure story. 

Rating: ☆  Awesome Movie!!!

Check out the amazing trailer below. 

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