Since when did the Arthur legend feature colossal elephants attacking Camelot? When it’s been reimagined – no, make that bastardized – by Guy Ritchie.
There’s no Merlin, Morgana, Lancelot or Grail quest. Instead we get lads named Kung Fu George, Goosefat Bill and Mike the Spike. The foundations of the classic medieval tale are there, but this is not just a case of Lock, Stock, and a Bloody Big Sword. Ritchie puts it in a Nutribullet along with Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Snatch, The Sword and the Sorcerer and Monty Python and the Holy Grail and then throws it at the screen to see what sticks. Yep, it’s as messy as it sounds.
In Ritchie’s take, Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) is murdered by his brother Vortigern (Jude Law), who’s under the influence of the evil Mage Mordred, and his son is set adrift in a boat (Moses-style). Winding up in the nearby city of Londinium, he’s raised in a brothel and grows up to be a tough, streetwise geezer named Arthur (Charlie Hunnam).
With Camelot now ruled by Voldemort, sorry Vortigern, the legendary sword Excalibur rises from the lake, and only the direct descendant of Uther can draw it from the stone. Guess who? In possession of the sword and its power, Arthur rallies his likely lads against Vortigern…
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword begins promisingly as a kind of alternate universe/grotesque fantasy version of the Arthur story but quickly descends into a chaos of incoherence, CGI that makes Marvel movies look restrained, flashbacks within montages within visions, and the circular chatter that’s Ritchie’s trademark. It’s as wildly uneven as Charlie Hunnam’s accent, and interest quickly wanes. By the time a giant snake bursts into Camelot’s throne room, you’ll begin to suspect that Ritchie had one too many celebratory spliffs while cutting it all together.
If you keep your expectations low, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword can be enjoyed on the same batsh-t crazy level as last year’s big budget fantasy folly Gods of Egypt. But if you haven’t seen a Guy Ritchie film since RocknRolla, you might want to keep it that way.
In cinemas: May 18, 2017
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou
Directed by: Guy Ritchie