(out of 5)
Guy Ritchie’s surprisingly energetic and inventive action film is never light or fun enough to make up for the fact that it is completely unimportant. After the noble Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) is betrayed and murdered by his evil brother Vortigem (Jude Law), young Arthur is whisked away to safety and raised in a brothel until reaching his manhood (as the impressively manly Charlie Hunnam). Arthur is quickly thrust beyond his humble place in life when he is forced to test his ability to wield Excalibur, the sword that is stuck in a stone and waiting for its rightful owner to remove it. Arthur succeeds at the task, of course, but this means that his uncle is now going to hunt him down and kill him. A series of fun action sequences and a healthy appreciation for the more supernatural parts of the story (including some glorious giant mammoths in the opening scene and some very creepy serpentine witches) should add up to more, but eventually it seems that the film is more interested in concentrating on violence instead of the storytelling. As usual, Richie presents a no-girls-allowed-in-the-treehouse camaraderie between his male characters (complete with posh accents for the villains and working-class tones for the noble rogues), but the charms of their interpersonal chemistry is lost in all the kinetic noise. For a film that has a mythical sword being fiercely protected by David Beckham, it takes itself far too seriously, but it passes the time and is not a waste of time.
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Cinematography by John Mathieson
Music by Daniel Pemberton
Production Design by Gemma Jackson
Costume Design by Annie Symons
Film Editing by James Herbert