Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law & Aidan Gillen.
Review Author: Adam Monks
Rating: 4/5 Cups of Mead
…I don’t get where all the hate for this film is coming from. I mean, initially I was quite curious, not even worried, just curious about how Guy Ritchie would get on with a fantasy film, but that was dispelled by the time the opening sequence ended. He’s my go-to director for when I want to put myself in the suave bad-ass state of mind and have myself reciting threatening lines in the rear view mirror while I sit in traffic. It’s a fun and aggressive film and I won’t have a bad word said against it. After watching this I’ve gone from curious to excited for his treatment of Aladin. I just wonder if Disney will let him go as gritty?
For those of you who worried that he would just try and force his template in and replace swords with guns…that’s nothing to worry about. He did just that. And he nailed it, and he built out the world, and some characters and made them into legends. He didn’t make Snatch with swords and dragons- he turned the old tale into one that could be told from the point of view of a gangster film. That’s talent.
Philosophy and semantics aside though, lets just run through what makes this a seriously good gangster film.
The world building is absolutely brilliant. It creates this phenomenal scale to the monsters and power of the Mage’s instantly in one of the busiest battle scenes since The Two Towers. The enchanted behemoth elephants that are destroying Camelot are the first thing you see as the fog clears in the opening scene, and they absolutely blew me away. It’s so hard to create monsters like that without everything looking cheesy and fake, but like Pacific Rim- the enormous CGI investment and time spent paid off.
In true Guy Ritchie style, there’s witty snappy dialogue used create exposition. For the briefest of moments, you’re removed from the setting, the magic and the suspension of disbelief- you’re just watching some gangsters plan out a fight. It’s a great director who can make that happen in any setting.
He really leaves his mark on the film. One scene, in particular, could be lifted clean out of Snatch and I absolutely loved it. They’re planning out their negotiations with the 6 barons who control an army that the rebels need to win the war. Rather than just show this chat, which is boring, we have Arthur pick holes in the plan, without ever letting any of it happen. You see him talk about how it all ‘could’ happen, and you see it all play out in his head while he creates a better plan and keeps the audience entertained. He managed to turn 4 scenes into one with some sharp editing and snappy smug narration. Ritchie is creating a timelessness to the ‘smooth, tough and tactical gangster’ figure.
Maybe there’s a film theory there that all his characters are in the same bloodline?… Maybe we’ll map that out in an infographic and brand the hell out of it and be internet-famous…who knows??
Go back up to the top of this article and click the trailer again. Listen to the music, imagine that for 2 hours. Absolute maniac fuel, ethereal and tribal and violent. And it’s all on Spotify! Like Mad Max: Fury Road, the music is very much a character of the film in its own right and added a whole other dimension to the intensity of the fights. It’s like Mumford and Son’s on steroids and it’s coming with me to the gym for the next few weeks.
A lot of hate is also coming through about the costume design. It’s not supposed to be period accurate, get over yourself. It’s supposed to marry the stereotypes of the time with how we want the character to come across. It’s part of the character building. Take the trailer and King Vortigen’s dark, demonic but somehow still classy battle garb, or Arthurs ragged but strong looking jackets. Without showing them in these you’d have a missing element to their personality. If Medieval Camelot had a TopMan, it’s clear they all shop there, and thats fine. Don’t sit there and say ‘they wouldn’t have had buttons like that in the Medieval times, reeee’, just admire the craftsmanship of the costumes and appreciate how it explains the characters and sets the scene without ever making a sound.
Honestly, this film is a lot of fun and has just the right mix of epic-ness, mythology, grit and suaveness. It’s exactly what it says on the tin- A Guy Ritchie fantasy film. The fact is it’s is a mythical gritty version of the Lion King and it’s everything Dracula Untold should have been. Don’t agree? Want to argue on the internet? Hit us up @ReelTimeFlicks