King Arthur: Legend of the Sword **

It’s a long-awaited return to the big screen for King Arthur, but you’ll wish he stayed away.  

Is it worth $10? No 

In spite of its Old English roots, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is undeniably made for a 21st century audience. This has nothing to do with modern filmmaking technology, and everything to do with the fact that we are a population that has trouble paying attention to anything for longer than five minutes before being distracted by our cell phones. Accordingly, “Legend of the Sword” can’t stay in one scene to save its cinematic life, and as it constantly shuffles around you can’t help but think, “why?”

More times than you’ll want to count, a scene will proceed along until a character starts talking about future plans, or the past. Director Guy Ritchie and editor James Herbert, who are either unwilling or unable to pay attention to their own movie, frequently cut to a visualization of those past or future events. To use this technique a few times, as Ritchie did in “Sherlock Holmes,” can work as a storytelling device, especially when driven by Holmes’ divine intellect. But relying on it frequently makes it a distraction, a narrative apoplexy that does little to create intrigue and results in the constant disservice of two steps forward one step back. What’s particularly galling is that the story would’ve been just fine if told as a straight narrative.

The film opens with an uninspired action sequence featuring gigantic elephants and a dull musical score. Nothing of consequence happens, so it’s a bad start. Shortly afterward, King Uther (Eric Bana) is murdered by his traitorous brother Vortigern (Jude Law), who ascends to the throne. Uther’s baby, Arthur, escapes to Londinium, where he grows up in a brothel and learns how to fight and steal. He meets friends who view him as a leader. About 20 years later, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) returns to his former home and realizes he should be king.

So basically, it’s “The Lion King.”

There are some action sequences that are nicely done, some pitter-patter dialog that clicks, and some visual effects that dazzle (be warned: if you don’t like snakes, avoid the movie). Most often, though, those elements are letdowns more than they are attributes, especially the action, which is edited so quickly that it’s at times hard to discern what’s happening. Add to that a weak female lead (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and you have a real dud of a movie.

Warner Bros. is hoping “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” will be the first of a six movie franchise, no doubt with Guinevere and Lancelot and the rest of the Knights of the Round Table soon to make an appearance. There’s likely enough curiosity around this for it to do well enough at the box office to justify a sequel, but if that sequel doesn’t deliver they’ll have to put the sword back in the stone for a few years before touching this property again.

Did you know?
Per imdb: The role of Arthur came down to Hunnam, Jai Courtney and Henry Cavill. Hunnam won, in part, because he brashly told Ritchie (who was concerned about Hunnam handling the physicality of the role) that he’d fight Courtney and Cavill right then and there. “The one who walks out the door gets the job,” Hunnam said.

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