DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
May Contain Spoilers!
2004 wasn’t the best year for cinema as far as I was concerned. So when I sat down to watch this new, more realistic take on the King Arthur legend, I remember thinking that this could be the film that would redeem 2004. Over two hours later, that dream had been shattered. This was no gem. It couldn’t decide whether or not it was trying to be a drama documentary, drawing on new evidence about the “Real” King Arthur, or just another summer blockbuster.
In the end, it was neither. At its heart it was interesting in its plausibility, removing the magic of Merlin and the shining armour, in favour of a mad kelt and the remnants of the now Christian Roman Empire. But I hold that this was a very miscast film, with Clive Owen delivering his lines with an artificially inflated moody tone, Ioan Gruffudd as a whimpering and out-of-place Lancelot and the less said about Ray Winstone’s Bors, the better!
Ironically, along side this cast and their appallingly two-dimensional performances, it’s Keira Keighley’s time to shine, and it doesn’t happen very often so enjoy it! Not that she shines very bright, but in comparison, she’s probably the best thing in the movie, besides the scenery, which Winstone is well and truly chewing!
It’s a prime example of grand ambition thwarted by poor execution as this ends up feeling line a rainy day in Scotland. I’m all for a dour tone, but this is best countered by bright and interesting characters, but the personality vacuum that is Clive Owen just simply isn’t someone who is capable of delivering this. And the plot seems to be contrived around the ambition to do King Arthur in this myth shattering way, but it just doesn’t work. Characters are killed before the play their parts in the established myth and the beauty of this legend is that it a lavish series of parables.
With bold and inspirational characters playing into our own strengths and weaknesses, the aim was to teach us something about ourselves. The adultery involving Guinevere (Knightly) and Lancelot is only hinted at and the whole thing just seems to be setting up a sequel, though without Lancelot, which luckily never happened.
This was just a misjudged project with good intentions but no idea as to who it was supposed to be appalling to or how to actually achieve its goals. I want to say “points for effort”, but it’s failure precludes any notable accolades. This is no John Borman’s, Excalibur but it was a real disappointment.