When I heard about the film King Arthur coming out which, I'll admit, was quite a while ago, I was pretty excited. What could be more entertaining than a legend brought to life, with the likes of Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd and Kiera Knightly taking the lead roles? I settled down to what I thought would be two hours of epic storytelling, involving the age-old elements of courage, love, freedom, faith...
What did I get? A plot that was as well hidden as an oasis in the desert. A couple of times you think you've stumbled on it, but it just ends up being a mirage and you quickly realise your thirst for it won't be relenquished any time soon.
So what happens? The film starts off with some opening text about the historical setting, and adds a note about new evidence having been found relating to King Arthur. I highly doubt any of the events portrayed are in any way meant to reflect the real facts! The first hour shows Arthur and his men coming to the end of 15 years of service for the Roman empire. Having been promised freedom for the loyalty they have shown, Arthur is told to enlist their help once more in saving a famous Roman family living north of Hadrian's Wall. Only, no one is too happy about this because, in the north, Saxons abide! And not only the Saxons, but Merlin's army of hippy, faced-painted warriors, none of whom are too fond of dear Arthur and his pals. Que the saving of villagers, a few scares in the forest, a "battle" on ice (really just some arrows being shot into the sky), and a couple of pious, religious figureheads who are quickly disposed of. Oh, and Kiera Knightly playing the role of Guinevere is found locked up in a dungeon by these pious monks for her pagan ways. She's saved and very quickly shows everyone just how good she is with those fingers of hers using a bow-and-arrow. Merlin makes a few appearances looking loopy and mystical, but his relationship with Arthur (and Guinevere) is never explained. Some more stuff happens, and eventually there is the inevitable "Final Battle" between Arthur and those pesky Saxons.
First of all, there is absolutely no clarity in this film, whatsoever! Why are there cinematic shots of the Round Table every so often? Why are these oddball Scots running round the forests? Why has a mole joined the Saxons, was he just frustrated with his people? Furthermore, there is no character development, whatsoever! The best person to watch on the screen was Mr Gruffudd, and even he was just pissed off most of the time for having to trek around snowy Scotland. Kiera did well to come across as a strong, fiesty woman, but there didn't seem to be a lot more to her character. And Clive Owen was a little wooden, but to be honest it's not like either of them had a lot to work with.
The production was clearly quite high, some nice shots of ice cracking and the battle scenes were mildly interesting, but if you want to watch a film with some heart, I say put on 300 instead.