A’right geezers, time for a rite ol’ good time swingin’ the swords, y’know whatimean luv? Darren reviews Guy Ritchie’s latest genre-bending adventure.
Directors have so much influence over a movie, more than perhaps the average watcher realises. In Hollywood, the director is the creative force, the unspoken ruler over the work. The writer plays second fiddle to them. I’m not saying this is good or bad, just unique. The movies they direct then say so much about them as a person. To make good art, to be even entertaining, I believe you must put as much of yourself into it as possible, and the good directors do this. Nobody will mix up a Burton movie, with its dark aesthetic or lonely characters with, say, a Kubrick, who uses loose plot threads but complex symbolism and story structure to ask questions about humanity. It is when these directors go against the grain and do something so alien to them, stripping their style from their own interests, that the movies tend to suck. Burton directed 2001’s Planet of the Apes. How many people could tell?
The reason I’m asking this is, who the hell gave Guy Ritchie a fantasy script?
King Arthur is the classic monomyth. Sure, most movies are, but this myth has it distilled to its essence.
So, of course, Guy Ritchie has to put his own spin on it. Keeping it sort of magical, most of the story is set in the ‘historical’ city of Londinium. With cockney geezers hanging around each corner, prostitutes running their own brothels (complete with red lights) and crime that Arthur has got his fingers in. I legitimately didn’t know who the director was going in, but within the opening five minutes it screamed Guy Ritchie. The language, the banter between the characters; heck, even their names. There was an attempt to put them in a more fantasy setting but it still reeked of his touch. “Goosefat Bill”, “Backlack and Whitlick”. Arthur doesn’t have an army or friends. No, he has “lads”. The style of storytelling has his trademark speed and digression.
I would have loved to have been in the room when the studio approached Ritchie.
Studio exec: We’d love you to tell this story. It’s a British classic, dealing with the betrayal of family, the founding myth of your entire country.
Ritchie: Oi! Where’s the blokes?
Studio exec: Blokes? Um-
Ritchie: Yeah, the geezers. I want hard lads dismantling those posh w*nkers. And prozzies. Lots of ‘em. It’s a historical tale, gotta have prozzies. Also Arthur ain’t no upper class tw*t, he’s a real man. Drinks pints of bitter and shags birds by the dozen.
Studio exec: …
In honesty, this isn’t a terrible movie.
I do enjoy the banter the characters have, even if they haven’t been fleshed out enough. I only remembered some of their names due to heavy repeating of them towards the end and the sheer uniqueness of some of them. Jude Law is boring but workable, which is a shame as there is some depth there. How his power is gained by sacrificing those he loves and by the building of giant towers for some reason, there is so much you can do with that.
The action is pretty terrible but also almost cartoonish, reminding me a lot of anime with its style. Arthur uses a sword less like a sword but more like a force-wielding baseball bat that can obliterate building from twenty feet away. Ritchie clearly doesn’t know how to make an interesting fight sequence without guns or hand to hand, and it shows.
If you’re a fan of Ritchie, love dumb fantasy movies or just want an example of how a niche director tries his hand at a completely different genre but somehow makes it the exact same as any of his other movies, then give this one a watch.