Cert 12A 126mins Stars 2
Director Guy Ritchie puts Arthurian legend to the sword with this humdrum fantasy adventure.
It’s a big budget spectacular full of magical beasts and battles, aiming appeal to fans of TV’s Games of Thrones. But without all the nudity and sex.
It barely plays lip service to the legend, and often feels as if Ritchie has made a Robin Hood film by mistake. He does manage to remember to include a sword in the stone and a lady in the lake.
The definitive versions of King Arthur are 1981’s Excalibur and 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This is not as funny as one or as grandly mythic as the other.
Ritchie made his name with gangster romps such as Lock Stock, and it’s no surprise to find Arthur reinvented as a brylcreamed cockney hard case.
The King is played with a remarkable lack of charisma by Charlie Ho-hum, sorry, Hunnam. Imagine Gary Barlow in It’s A Royal Knockout, armed with a super-powered sword. But without the cavalier sense of fun that suggests.
With Ritchie being director, producer and co-writer, only those on set with any clout remain unscathed from the pillage of his stylistic flourishes.
Jude Law is impressively imperial as Arthur’s evil uncle, Vortigern. In order to maintain his reign of terror in England, he needs to find and destroy his nephew.
In an astutely edited and mildly distracting cameo as a knight, former footballer David Beckham makes a valiant stab at acting.
With the exception of French actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey, women are mostly window dressing.
Who knows why Warner Bros allowed Ritchie to squander £135 million of their cash on this dull and disappointing disaster.
But having already fallen on its sword around the globe, trying to turn this into box office gold will be as easy as finding the Holy Grail.