Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay, Tom Wu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Annabelle Wallis, Poppy Delevingne, Katie McGrath, Mikael Persbrandt, Bleu Landau.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Screenplay: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, & David Dobkin.
I wanted to give this more than ★★★1/2 stars but what brought this film down was its own un-refinement because underneath the bog is a super impressive film. What this film's pacing kept reminding me of was one of my own film essays where I would keep revisiting the same point over and over again thinking I was expanding on the idea when rather I was just using up the word count.
But this film takes us back to a time where we embrace the mage of it all and have magic within our realistic King Arthur story which is a very welcome return. I am not saying that Clive Owen and Keira Knightley's jaunt 12 years ago was not enjoyable but allowing the Arthur story swing back to the wonders of Merlin is fantastic—see here I go making the same point twice thinking I am making new ground in my review...
Our story begins with the downfall of Arthur's father (Eric Bana) and the rise of his uncle (Jude Law) where we see Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) be sent away into hiding where inevitably he forgets his true origin as the rightful heir to the throne. King Vortigern (his uncle) reigns with fear and is building power through the use of magic and the help of sea monster mages to keep his power but Excalibur has its own idea and reveals itself for the heir to claim it and take back the kingdom.
If this film was half the runtime or something else was added to the plot this would gain at least another half star because the acting, set and costume design, and world building is incredible here. For the first time I believe that the Arthur story actually existed within the history of England as the film grounds it in the world of realistic grit and Roman influence. What it doesn't do well are the fight scenes with an insane amount of shaky cam and some unfortunate entirely CG segments.
Jude Law is killer here, same with Bana. They once again prove their kingly presence while Hunnam does exactly what is expected of his character but in a very enjoyable way. Ritchie almost has a great film here but he just can't quite land it within the bog.