King Arthur (2004) Review

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How did you become king? I didn’t vote for you.

King Arthur (2004): 7 out of 10: If this movie was called Bob the Roman guy, it would have been a lot better. Arthurian legend is often awkwardly forced into what is a decent dark ages romp. 

As a result, you have Osama bin Merlin, head of what I’m guessing is the Picts. (They are called the Woads. They wear blue battle paint, which is historically accurate if you are doing a film about the Scottish. The Scottish watching a football match in the 1970s, mind you.) Guinevere is now a leather bikini-wearing archer. And Arthur is a Roman commander fighting the Blue Meanies of the north. The Saxon’s show up and try to kill everybody. So now in that timeworn movie cliché the two former enemies (Arthur and Merlin) have to combine forces. 

A lot of clichés are evident in King Arthur. The worst is the ahistorical screeching about freedom in what seems to be every fourth sentence of the screenplay. It’s irritatingly repetitive, ridiculous (Arthur doesn’t become President Arthur after all or as Monty Python put it “How did you become king anyway I didn’t vote for you”) and it leads to one of the unintentionally funniest scenes ever in a major motion picture release. (As King Arthur gives an almost word-for-word homage to Mel Gibson’s stirring Braveheart battle speech, the camera pans back and instead of revealing an army of thousands it has five lone guys. They might as well have been holding coconuts.

Yet despite all this and an ending that reminds one of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, I enjoyed myself. The battle scenes were well done, the acting okay, and the story moved along nicely. 

Like Troy, the flaws of the movie add a humorous dimension to the proceedings. Plus, it has an incredible ice battle unmatched outside of Russian cinema. And don’t forget we fight for FREEDOM from the unrepresentative Republic of which I am a commanding officer so we can create an absolute monarchy with a round table.

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