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Canted Angle Media (Everything Relatively Applicable) is the brainchild of Jed Nichols. As a cinematographer, director, writer and actor, Jed's passion for art finds itself most drawn toward the world of narrative filmmaking. On this site, Jed shares stories from his adventures as a short film creator, purveyor of the arts, and reviews of popular films and other artistic mediums. 

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King Arthur: A Medieval Return to Form for Guy Ritchie

July 24, 2017

 Guy Ritchie has gone back to what he got right with Sherlock, panache and style that enriches overall solid story details. Powerful acting, intense cinematography, snake magic, giant mastadons, and Eric Effing Bana round out what turned out to be an interesting and engaging film. While the movie started a bit slow, a uniquely Ritchie-like montage snaps Arthur from child to adult, managing to age the character perfectly enough to influence the larger story being told. While the opening montage is meant to be a prologue to the film, it serves as a beautifully technical piece of art that lends itself to the growth we as audiences need to see a character go through in order to form a bond with those onscreen.

 

A smaller-than-usual marketing campaign for this film did no favors to the overall box office take. It was released a little too softly for it's $175m budget, and word of mouth, while positive, has yet to be strong enough to garner making the studio's money back. The film only took in $190m at the worldwide box office, including the USA, so it's doubtful the film has been seen as a success after inflation and contracts are paid back. Hopefully, this film will gain a larger audience on streaming and DVD. The filmmakers deserve to see the fruit of their labor. Critical analysis buried this film, as well as potential fatigue for period pieces. There was a time in Hollywood where knights and folklore reigned at the box office; that time has been taken up by superhero films. However, that doesn't mean good medieval films aren't being made in this dry spell. Rather, interest is elsewhere. It happens more often than you'd think (the modern Western, for instance).

 

ACTING

Charlie Hunnam (poster) is believable as the young and out-of-touch title character, and adds plenty of his smarmy charm to the role. Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, Aidan Gillen, and Eric Bana round out the stellar cast of grizzled and hard-worn peasants and royalty. While the film doesn't beg for your emotional connection as hard as other films, the actors gave a great amount of care and gravitas to their roles, and all parties felt believable. Jude Law and Eric Bana were standouts, because they're quite literally some of the best leading men in professional film acting. Law's brooding is the forefront of his style, Hounsou's kind eyes and intensity create powerful and memorable conversation, and Aidan Gillen brings quirky rebelliousness much in the same as he has in Game of Thrones.

 

STORY

While it is a loose adaptation of the lore of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, it is still very much a fantasy film that has taken new liberties with the source material. Magic is still very prevalent and there is a thematic element derived from serpents which amplifies several scenes with the presence of snakes and their larger cousin, the baselisk. While I hate snakes, the sheer spectacle of snakes and reptiles in the film make for an epic adventure. The script was written with the Cockney, fast-paced-delivery of a Guy Ritchie film, arguably one of the best elements apparent in all of his films, and something that was severely lacking from Ritchie's last picture, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

 

 DIRECTION

Guy Ritchie (pictured) is a master of gritty, Cockney-influenced English action and humor. Ritchie's directorial style for this film was to allow the natural personalities of actors to come out through their performances. There was no grandiosity in any character portrayal, yet they all felt naturally derived from the film's world.  The characters felt lived-in, in terms of how they interacted with the period they were part of. Thankfully, Ritchie brought all of his stylistic choices back into the fold. Split screen wipes, snappy, rapid-fire dialogue, ethereal, ghostly montages, and super slow-motion all make an appearance with great success, visually and sonically.

 

 CINEMATOGRAPHY

I'm still thinking of shots in the film weeks after my viewing. I rarely chew the fat of a film for so long, and several images have been burned into my mind. While the film is heavy on computer graphics, the composition of the shots are all so dynamic, large in scope, and psychologically impactful in their framing. This is masterful work, and is one highlight of an already bright film.

 

OPINION

I loved this film. It takes the perspective of a forlorn and contemplative Arthur, unsure of what he wants his life to be like, despite his destiny falling in front of him several times. The film is full of epic and expansive visuals. I hate saying something so cliché, but many scenes are breathtaking in visual scope. The acting was top notch, I absolutely loved the mysticism that ran rampant throughout the film's veins, and I think highly of the newly appointed story of Arthur Pendragon and his birthright. This film is as good as Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes series, if not weird enough to be better, in some ways. There's a 100' long baselisk in one scene of the film that absolutely scared me shitless for the first time in a cinema in several years. I'm not a jumper and I hate jumpscares. But, that big frickin' snake scared me in ways I didn't think my bowel could hold up. I will sing this film's praises for a while. Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a film that will, hopefully, find it's place in the future as one of Ritchie's best.

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