MOVIE REVIEW: King Arthur - Legend of the Sword
GUY Ritchie's Camelot "prequel" might not be a Hollywood game changer, but nor is it as bad as early reviews have suggested.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword currently has a 26 per cent fresh score on popular critical aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
After opening in the third spot at the US box office at the weekend, the $US175 million production is already being described as an epic box office flop.
John Carter, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate - titles that send a shiver down the spine of even the most bullish of producers - have been evoked.
But the picture that's emerging here is unduly harsh.
Ritchie plays fast and loose with the ancient legend in this modern reworking, retaining those trademark fast cuts and laddish banter.
But since the legend of King Arthur is largely invented - his very existence is disputed by some modern historians - authenticity is hardly an issue.
This is King Arfur for the MTV generation - Ritchie covers the anointed one's harrowing journey through the spiritual wilderness, during which he is attacked by an assortment of megafauna including wild boars, snakes and birds of prey, at a breakneck pace
David Beckham probably shouldn't give up his day job, but it's a small role, and only momentarily jarring within the context of the film.
Charlie Hunnam, on the other hand, makes a handsome and charismatic Arthur. His muscular physique is a good fit for such a mythical character.
Jude Law's Vortigern has more layers than your average fantasy villain and Spanish actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey is convincingly otherworldly as The Mage or proto- Guinevere.
In the opening scenes of what was conceived as the first film in a King Arthur franchise, Uther (Eric Bana) defeats demonic forces only to be betrayed by his power-hungry brother (Vortigern).
His son, the infant Arthur, escapes on a boat that floats all the way to Londinium, where he is taken in by three prostitutes.
Raised in a brothel, the orphaned king learns all of his important life lessons on the street.
The future knights of the round table are an ethnically-diverse bunch of similarly rough diamonds.
Sir William (Aiden Gillen), master of the longbow, currently goes by the name of Goosefat on account of his ability to slip through prison bars.
Sir Bedivere is a Moor (Djimon Hounsou) and Kung Fu George (Tom Wu) tutors the young Arthur in martial arts.
Ritchie directs proceedings with his customary hyperactive swagger and the CGI is impressive - particularly the three-headed Siren-eel creature to which Vortigen sells his soul.
An action fantasy that is as substantial as popcorn and about as easy to swallow.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is now screening.
King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Verdict: 3 stars