The King Arthur legend ranks high among classic public-domain narratives, so it makes sense that producers keep trying to pull his sword from the cinematic stone. With Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, starring Charlie “Jax Teller” Hunnam as the titular monarch of mythic repute, Warner Bros. is priming the pump for a new franchise. Why else would they subject us to an entire movie devoted to the newly updated origin of Arthur?
Ritchie and his co-writers craft a young Arthur who comes off sort of indistinguishable from Robin Hood. With no knowledge of his royal birth, Arthur protects the ladies of a Londinium brothel, while rebels pester King Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle by birth and the man responsible for the death of his mom and dad. Eventually, Arthur learns of his royal past when he pulls Excalibur, which bestows some pretty wicked powers on its wielder, from the stone. He spends the rest of the movie accepting his fate and attempting to defeat his evil uncle like a medieval Simba.
While King Arthur: Game of Thrones Edition seems to miss the overall point of Arthurian legend, making up its own rules as it goes, Ritchie’s footwork is entertainingly swift enough; do not be surprised if you hear Daniel Pemberton’s rousing, modern score in future trailers. But is a King Arthur movie really a King Arthur movie without any of the regulars like Merlin, Guinevere or Lancelot? Rest assured, fans: John Boorman’s flawed yet brilliant Excalibur is still the king of Camelot.
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