Film review by: Witney Seibold
It turns out, according to this new movie, that King Arthur did not live pre-Battle of Hastings, but a half a century earlier around the Fall of the Roman Empire. Arthur’s real name was Artorius, and he was a Roman servant. He did have his knights; Bors, Gawain, Lancelot, Galahad, but they were raunchy jocks. Guinevere was not involved in a romance with Lancelot, and in fact was a warrior from a tribe of druids called the Woads. Merlin was head of said tribe. Arthur was a Christian as well, but still had to buck up against the new monastic orders. Oh, and the Saxons are coming, and may make their way through The Great Wall of Briton, and it’s up to Artorius to stop them.
All that’s missing is a killer bunny.
This revisionist “true story” of King Arthur and his silly English k’niggitts (gone are any references to Le Mort D’Arthur) is the contention behind Antione Fuqua’s new film, a rather inane affair that knows enough of its history to provide a number of battle scenes (and there is a rather impressive one on a frozen lake), but not enough to seem authoritative or grand in the old-fashioned sense (or to make the history nitpickers satisfied, for that matter). I am not a big fan of mindless action films, and can tell when I’m getting a frank and well-thought-out history epic, and when I’m getting an action set-piece. This film is most certainly the latter. It’s a little sloppy, it’s hard-edged, it’s cheeky in its liberties, and, well I gotta admit, it’s surprisingly well-acted.
Clive Owen, the suave slimeball from “Croupier,” plays Arthur, and never once makes him into a sarcastic anti-hero, the likes of which are crawling all over the genre. The leader of the Saxons is played by a great hairy Stellan Skarsgård, who is always nice to have around. The knight Bors is played by Ray Winstone like a football hooligan and is a delight to watch. A supporting Bishop played by Ivano Marescotti really impressed me. Keira Knightly plays Guinevere, and seems too wispy for combat, but was not incredibly miscast (just a little, though).
Overall, the film was tolerable, but time could be better spent elsewhere. Watch “Holy Grail” again instead.