King Arthur (2004)

<strong class="MovieTitle">King Arthur</strong> (2004)

(In theaters, July 2004) While I’m partial to the concept of presenting “the real story” behind the myths, that kind of stuff isn’t in itself sufficient to sustain my interest in a film. The first half of King Arthur passes in a drowsy daze, as director Antoine Fuqua seems content in simply showing how much mud existed at the time. Fortunately, things pick up (from a pacing standpoint) as soon as Guenevere (Kiera Knightly, an average casting choice at best) is rescued from a damp dungeon. While “realistic”, the film doesn’t do much to acknowledge real science given how hand injuries are easily forgotten, unlikely arrow shots find their targets a mile away and heroism takes precedence over simple physics. Oh well; at least it’s easy to warm to the title character (a fantastic Clive Owen) and his merry band of knights. Some low-level flirtation, along with a gruff Merlin and a shot of a round table, and we’ve got the making of myth. But it’s the action scenes that work better than anything else, from a great little frozen-lake sequence to a rather good final clash between two (or three) armies. Nifty, but they can’t excuse the tepid storytelling nor the bombastic details. It’s a mixed bag, really; better than expected from the lifeless trailers, but still not quite up to the level of quality offered from other recent historical epics.

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