Starring Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisby, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law, Eric Bana and David Beckenham. Written by Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram and Joby Harold. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Budget $175 million. Running time 126 minutes.
Well, it was bound to happen sooner than later. Obviously inspired by the notion of fusion cuisine, you know those restaurants that mix up different foods from around the world, like Thai and cheese fondue, well top-geezer Guy Ritchie has only gorn and created Fusion Flicks, ain't 'e? That's right, guvnor. Good old Guy ('e's a card) Richtie 'as mixed British gangster flicks from the 1990s and the Hobbit to create this - the first part of his planned six movie saga based on diamond top bloke, King Arfur, 'e what beat the Saxons, 'eralded in the age of chivalry and inspired the vastly superior Monty Python's The Holy Grail.
So, if you've wondered what Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels crossed with Game of Thrones without the nudity and sadism looks like? Well look no further, cos your man, Guy Ritchie 'as done it!
The story, as old as time, sees Arfur, the young son of King Uthar, orphaned one night by his uncle, who's turned to the dark side, which in this case means the weird octopus lady living in his basement. Poor Arfur is sent down the river, Moses like, to be found and bought up by a gang of loveable tarts wiv 'earts and brought up in their bridge brothel.There he stays for the next 20 years until he's grown up to be Charlie Hunnam and been trained to fight by the local mixed martial arts Kung Fu master who just so happens to be running his dojo next door to the huge colosseum built in the heart of London. Then Excalibur resurfaces, all men of a certain age are brought to try and pull it free, and Arfur is 'rescued/recruited' by the rebels to fight. Naturally, he's reluctant (cos all heroes have to spend 2/3rd of a movie saying they're not the hero everyone else tells them they are) before finally, in the third act, he stop fighting, picks up the sword for the showdown with his uncle, Jude Law. Then there's just time for Arfur to get crowned king of England, knight all his mates and sets the table (round) for the next film. God help us all.
Filled with all of Guy Ritchie's favourite little camera tricks and story telling tropes, like rewinding the film to rewatch a scene, multiple times, irritating voice overs, cockney actors giving it all that and a host of other things makes for a somewhat jarring experience. He also does himself no favours by rendering all the fight scenes totally unwatchable thanks to violent camera shakes, oh and there's also a 3D version, but whatever you do. Do NOT see this in 3D, never have I ever seen a more useless 3D movie than this.
Best bits are the beginning and the very end. In between we spend a vast length of time with a lead character who refuses to accept his fate, which is bloody infuriating since we know that he's going to finally do the right thing, so why waste time watching him go 'oh no, not me' over and over again. That coupled with all the scenes where someone says they're not going to do that, before we cut to the next scene where they're doing what they just said they wouldn't.
Whilst never boring, this is nevertheless utterly un-engaging, mostly down to the fact that film isn't interested in the plot or story, all it wants to do is feature a band of cockney wideboys getting one over on the baddies. Poor Jude Law, who is always on the verge of being awesome spends the entire film just waiting for the showdown with his nephew. The film doesn't seem interested in developing a plot or should I say spending time with the plot and it seems to be there just so we can barrel along to the next action beat.
Rather than creating a cinematic version of fusion cuisine, Richie has instead taken two genres and done a Cut and Shut job, as he badly welds together two utterly different genres together to create something genuinely clunky. That said, this isn't a total disaster, due mostly to the cast who give it their all, but their efforts are rendered useless because Richie is determined to throw everything he's got up there too and doesn't seem to have any restraint.