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I know, I know, something of a late review here, but after reading up on Guy Ritchie I was reminded of my fondness for this film.
I grew up reading about Arthurian mythology - the tale of the Green Knight, the tryst of Lancelot and Guinevere, the overarching tragedy of the bastard Arthur himself - and my favorite version of the story was T.H. White's The Once and Future King, the first part of which you might better know as being adapted into Disney's The Sword and the Stone. So you might think that I'd hate this movie for how different it is from most every other adaptation of the legend and mythos, and you'd be wrong.
In all honesty, the irreverence with which Legend of the Sword treats most of the setting is part of its strength, charm, and fun. It's got people of all ethnicities running around in a vaguely pre-Industrial Revolution-era Britain, everyone speaks a fairly modern dialect, there's no hint of much of the "original" legend's more out-there concepts like the Questing Beast and the Holy Grail - and that is the point. Because as much as I love the old stuff, there's nothing more to be gained by simply drawing from Boorman's Excalibur: you can't make perfection twice.
And so instead we get Guy Ritchie's King Arthur, which includes but is not limited to:
-Mordred being Arthur's uncle instead of his son, and Uther being a pretty cool guy instead of a rapist
-Giant honking magic war elephants that just crush enemies by walking through castles
-The most badass Merlin since forever who only appears for a 5 second scene
-Guinevere as an actual, capable mage instead of a queen with the power of ANIMALS
-Vortigern in an actual starring role and with a surprising amount of depth thanks to Jude Law
-And of course, Arthur himself, who starts off the movie raised by prostitutes, running what amounts to a protection racket that actually protects people and being charming as all hell about it (thanks to the impeccable Charlie Hunnam)
And yet, despite all these major character and setting differences, never once did I feel like I was NOT watching a King Arthur film, because unlike certain adaptations of existing stories *cough* Man Of Steel, Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World, Iron Fist Season 1 *cough*, Legend of the Sword doesn't feel like it's telling the audience or the original creators "that stuff isn't good enough, let me show you how it SHOULD be done". Instead, it shows us how to have fun with a new telling of an old story while still respecting what came before. It's energetic, fast-paced, dynamically filmed, wonderfully acted and most importantly memorable. Very unfortunate that it didn't do well enough to kickstart a series as was hoped, but I'm more than happy with what we got.
This film is yet another King Arthur story. It's hard to complain about the legend being told again when it's one of the oldest legends in English history, having been retold for a thousand years or so.
It is a unique take on the story, though. But not exceptional.
The plot is interesting enough, but predictable.
The action is chaotic and mostly spectacle.
The worldbuilding goes waaay into the fantasy side of the legend, but is beautiful.
Is the movie good? I don't know, but it is enjoyable as a time-waster. Ultimately, you get a Guy Ritchie movie set in Camelot. The characters are great, but at the same time dumb decisions are all over the place (and not in a hilarious way like in Snatch). The victories don't feel earned. They seem to happen just because they're supposed to happen, and the only reason they didn't happen earlier seems to be to pad the running time of the film.
The action is mostly CGI, which generally isn't a problem unless it's too obvious. Which it is in this film.
The costumes are fantastic and the music is great. This is a great film for watching 5 second clips or turning into GI Fs. But I don't think it really sets itself apart from all the King Arthur stories that came before it, other than budget and CGI.
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