I hated this film. I hated nearly everything about this film...I hated the revamped, though possibly more historically accurate storylines...I hated the vast majority of the performances...I hated the Bruckheimer touches...I hated the Fuqua touches...I hated the script and the dialogue and the glossy but oddly irritating production design....oh, and the musical score...God, how I hated the score. Quite simply, I hated this film.
This is a film where I have to "practice what I preach." I have to recognize this film has positive production traits...and wonderful things about it even though I didn't necessarily care for them. So, despite the fact that I truly hated this film I cannot and will not fail it. Despite the fact that I recognize positive things about this film, however, I will say that for me it is an utter failure.
I am not necessarily troubled by the unique storyline...the different approach to "King Arthur."
Indeed, the whole "King Arthur" has often received quite the royal, mystic treatment over the years and this film offers a more humanized story to balance the legend. Yet, as admirable as the approach may be it is accompanied by ludicrously uncomfortable dialogue, incomprehensibly poor character development and forced chemistries. If a filmmaker chooses to alter the course of a legend, then that same filmmaker has a responsibility to do so in a whole and complete way. This approach felt very artificial much of the time.
Likewise, the film is plagued by substandard performances...most notably, Clive Owen as King Arthur himself. I have found myself more interested while listening to mental health clients with IQ's of 20 screaming "You can't make me" at the top of their lungs for hours at a time than I was listening to Owens' simply awful performance of stilted dialogue.
Keira Knightley fares better as Lady Guinevere, though with the redone storyline I found myself less involved. Generally, however, her performance is solid and engaging.
The rest of the performances range from caricatures to generally functional, though none are developed enough to fully appreciate.
Perhaps the greatest strength of this film lies in its fight scenes, themselves the primary diversion from the original "King Arthur" legends as portrayed on film. These scenes, while unique, are well filmed, choreographed and suspenseful.
"King Arthur" had a disappointing take of just over $51 million at the US box office, though by the time international receipts and DVD receipts are done I'm sure it will recoup most, or all, of its $90 million budget. In a year when a film of such intelligence and beauty as "Garden State" garners under $30 million at the box office, it causes my heart to ache to see such tripe as this film even break even. There's a gross injustice there.
I grew up enchanted by the legend of "King Arthur" and I was excited to see this film receive a big budget film opportunity. Sadly, this opportunity was wasted. Beyond the few positive production values presented, this is a film devoid of soul largely due to horrid dialogue, inadequate character development and the simply God-awful performance of Clive Owen.