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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.42%
Worth A Look: 18.12%
Just Average: 14.09%
Pretty Crappy30.87%
Sucks: 23.49%

6 reviews, 113 user ratings

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King Arthur (2004)
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by David Cornelius

"The Once and Future Snooze."
2 stars

Just as “Troy” tried to inject realism into “The Iliad” by removing all fantasy aspects of the story, now so does “King Arthur” to its source material. The film, written by David Franzoni and directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), bases itself not on the Arthur legend we’ve come to know, but on the popular speculation that yes, there really was an Arthur who lived not in medieval times, but in the Dark Ages, somewhere in the fifth century. And so the movie makes its best guess on how the real Arthur lived, what he did, and how many stunt sequences he performed.

It almost works, if not for a few minor problems. First, and most importantly, it’s kinda boring in too many spots. It rambles. Second, it tries to slip in references to the Arthurian legends, but when we spot them, we think, “boy, a little wizardry’d be cool right about now, break up this dullness, that’s for sure.” And third, Keira Knightley’s Guinevere character is a complete and utter mess.

So let’s focus on that last one, shall we? Arthur (Clive Owen, showing a surprising lack of screen presence) finds Guinevere locked away in a dungeon of sorts, her hand broken, herself so starved that she can barely walk. Yet within a day, she’s back on her feet, full of gusto and ready to fight! Wha?

It’s all part of a plan to make Guinevere a Warrior Princess, a reworking of the character that reeks of clueless studio involvement. I can see the executives now, chatting about how nobody likes a docile leading lady these days, how all women in the movies must kick a nicely sized portion of ass. And so for no logical reason, we get Guinevere as a highly skilled archer who’s ready to slap on some Braveheart body paint and lead her people into bloody battle. Again, wha?

The problem is that the movie makes no effort to explain this change in character. She just suddenly wakes up one morning as a tough gal, and it feels way too fake to ever click with the viewer. We’re not being told about a character. We’re being sold a new Hollywood cliché created by knee-jerk fear of being labeled chauvinist or something.

The movie leaves plenty more explanations in the dust as well. The plot follows Arthur and his men as they cross into Saxon territory to rescue an aristocrat family, after which they are hunted by the villainous Saxons, led by a Stellan Skarsgard, whose character’s name is Cerdic, but I only learned that from the credits. The movie is quite vague about the Saxons - they’re merely generic baddies created to chase the heroes and provide a decent showdown in an ending that sorta reminds me of the Alamo. These Saxons don’t really do much except fight the good guys a lot, leave, and fight some more, all without any character development, and it’s a generic-ness that gets old quickly. (For his part, Skarsgard makes a good brooding villain. Too bad he’s not given much else to do but talk gruffly.)

When we get to the final battle, it’s far too by-the-numbers. (Consider this a spoiler warning to those who think they wouldn’t be able to guess the predictable moments. You folks skip ahead on paragraph.) First wave of Disposable Bad Guys will be defeated. Second wave will fare slightly better, but not much. The third wave, which includes characters we have actually met, will break through and actually fight. Someone else will face the main bad guy in battle, and we know he will lose because only Arthur can be the guy who kills the main bad guy, right? Right. Oh, and for all this effort to make Guinevere a strong, independent warrior type, she still has to get her ass saved in the end. Lame.

The film does have some memorable moments. There’s a darn cool action sequence set atop a frozen lake, tension mounting with each crack of the ice. The knights of the round table, as much as they are, are likable characters, and even though Bors (Ray Winstone) is a lovable lug who’s way too formulated a role (a tough guy that loves kids!), it’s still an enjoyable role and an enjoyable performance. And the politicking behind Arthur’s actions - he’s trying to earn his freedom and return to Rome - is of some interest.

And yet the filmmakers never hold on to these sharper points. The movie slugs along at a gloomy pace, never pumping energy into the scenes that need it most. By the time we get to the final battle, the audience should be stoked for something great, not leaning back and thinking, yeah, sure, fine, whatever. “King Arthur” may be a more truthful retelling of the legend, but it’s certainly a lot less fun.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10197&reviewer=392
originally posted: 12/20/04 14:18:30
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User Comments

5/27/13 teg/ibw Averge, not unbearable. I disagree about the sidekicks; they were the best part. 3 stars
2/26/11 Cam - loved this movie as a "demystified 'inspiration'" for the legend No magic; not 100% accurate to history either, but has the right atmosphere & great acting. 5 stars
8/24/09 Taran Not historically accurate, as it claims to be. One shit pile of a film. 1 stars
8/15/09 Jeff Wilder Lame script and slow-pace makes for a boring and weak movie. 1 stars
5/31/09 Chuck Arthur protects life, liberty, and the pursiut of happiness. An utterly horrid Movie. 1 stars
8/20/08 Shaun Wallner Boring not worth it! 2 stars
5/15/08 elmo mcdonald I thought the Samurai dark ages fight scene was lame, as was 1 man vs 200 saxons 1 stars
2/15/08 luke i kinda liked it 4 stars
12/06/07 Adrian Bruckheimer makes action boring without a tangible plot to get in the way 1 stars
11/30/07 R.W.Welch Mostly interesting take on the origins of the Arthur Legend. Uneven but has atmosphere. 3 stars
8/12/07 Zookeeper Awful acting and story make for worse movie. Send the director back to da 'hood! 1 stars
8/12/07 Zenny Why the hate? As it's own, it's a good flick, imo 4 stars
1/30/07 action movie fan exciting ancient actioner-one of the best of 2004 5 stars
1/05/07 Anarcho-syndicalist commune wants to be Braveheart, but only the action sequences even deserve comparison. 3 stars
12/14/06 Morgan As a diehard 'Excalibur' fan I was extremely pissed off and bored throughout - crap 1 stars
11/30/06 SabresFanatic Loved it but for the ending..that was lame! 4 stars
10/26/06 David Cohen Just as bogus as the legend (don't believe the hype) and one-tenth as enjoyable 2 stars
10/11/06 dalmation enjoyable, but where's the lady of the lake, and the magic!!!!!! 4 stars
10/07/06 EricTheViking Utter crap. Totally unfaithful to the legend. More American anti-british propaganda. Avoid! 1 stars
8/27/06 Dan Great idea, terrible execution. A shame, and a wasted opportunity. 1 stars
4/09/06 lee good movie 4 stars
4/07/06 Andy Worst move I have ever seen. Don't waste your time. 1 stars
3/30/06 Steb One of the worst films ive ever seen. Love the legend - hate the film. 1 stars
3/04/06 Anus Lame dialogue. A Saxon with a modern american accent? 1 stars
10/26/05 Michael Samreny This film continues to grow on me. Strangely the legend has become more fascinating. 5 stars
9/26/05 Jonathon Holmes watch "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" instead 2 stars
9/07/05 Ric Bland story, but the exciting battles and beautiful cinematography make it worth watching. 4 stars
8/27/05 Quigley used insutling advertisement campaigns. the CG was horrible. I hated this movie. watch LOTR 1 stars
8/25/05 Lynda Great movie 5 stars
8/18/05 ES way too preachy, shut knightley up already, tell me twice fine, don't bash it over my head 3 stars
8/09/05 Allan Buluku Not So Bad 5 stars
7/31/05 chad c bad movie 1 stars
7/22/05 Ernie Santangelo good story of authur without the fluff You understand why he was mystified 4 stars
7/20/05 Doremimi Quite possibly the most boring movie ever made. 1 stars
5/21/05 Adam More realistic than shining perfect corny magical legends... Awesome. 5 stars
4/27/05 reptilesni Really. Really. Boring. 1 stars
4/20/05 Chris Stephens Watch the uncut version on DVD 4 stars
4/18/05 Maril Smith I thought this film was pretty interesting 3 stars
4/15/05 Carol Conway Was entertaining enough 3 stars
4/15/05 Southern bell It was a new take on the legend of king arthur that leads to utter confusion 2 stars
4/12/05 Quigley one of the worst insults in film today. repetitive battles with CG that made it look sick 1 stars
4/04/05 Eugene Mortensen at one time john boorman was a great director now he just makes crap 1 stars
4/02/05 Charlene Javier Not even Keira can save this one. 2 stars
3/31/05 Tracie Armendariz Long and overdrawn. The splendor of the King Auther legend is sadly lacking in this movie. 2 stars
3/30/05 hannaho It could have been worse, it could have been "A Knight's Tale 2" 2 stars
3/03/05 Jess Crap? Shit is more appropriate. Horrible script AND acting. 1 stars
2/25/05 ELI just dreadful. Boring action sequences, stupid dialogue, predictable 1 stars
2/19/05 Dan It's ok, not as good as I thought it would be, but good none the less. 3 stars
1/29/05 Bob Barton I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. 4 stars
1/24/05 Dr. Z One of the best if not the best films of this type (knights, etc) that I have ever seen. 5 stars
1/18/05 Charly This is an outstanding film 5 stars
1/17/05 Roy Smith Again Kiera Knightley was born Kevin. "Arthur" is stillborn without the myth. 2 stars
1/12/05 Aaron Brown An awesome movie that shows that there was a real King Arthur. 5 stars
1/06/05 Matt I thought it might not be astonishingly accurate but it was cool! 5 stars
12/27/04 efrain i saw it in the theatre and i was falling asleep. boring. 3 stars
12/25/04 Freddy just rented the directors cut dvd. way better than expected! 5 stars
12/22/04 Jeff The reviewers are fucking idiots. 5 stars
12/18/04 ELI zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
11/05/04 TCIC No character or romance devlopment, the action provides nothing new 1 stars
10/14/04 kirsty michael i thought it was a good well acted movie 4 stars
9/14/04 Perzy Monty Kinda fake version. King Arthur was meant to die, while Lancelot was meant to live on!!! 2 stars
9/13/04 ALDO NO STORY...POINTLESS Fighting..all the way 2 stars
9/08/04 denise king arthur is sooo boring that i almost fell asleep. the sword scenes were totally dull. 1 stars
9/07/04 Jenny Tullwartz Arthur as a Braveheart wannabee -- Pretty lame! 2 stars
9/07/04 Stephanie Throckmorton Let's call this revisionist history SHAMELOT!! 2 stars
9/06/04 Alex Awesome Knightley plays a female Legolas! 5 stars
9/04/04 jeff keira nightley was in it, thats all i gotta say!!! 4 stars
8/31/04 Lauriett If it were not for Ioan Gruffudd, I wouldn't have put up through the ordeal of watching it. 2 stars
8/26/04 Aaron Smith solid tale of Briton warrior; woderful scenery 5 stars
8/19/04 ELI This is the worst war movie I have ever seen! unoriginal, predictable and boring. 1 stars
8/14/04 Alien assassin superficial treatment of the Arthurian legend, but still worth checking out 4 stars
8/06/04 sasasas ugly 1 stars
8/03/04 luke good movie 5 stars
8/02/04 Steve Newman Not as good as i hoped - arrow scenes 1st class 3 stars
7/30/04 Gabrielle Go Worh a look 4 stars
7/26/04 S.F. An entertaining distortion of the Arthurian Legend. Slow at first then picks up. 4 stars
7/26/04 TUFAN Some worthy characters. Making K. Knightley always sexy & ready for the camera too obvious 2 stars
7/26/04 jada souless with no substance, no character definition, NOTHING! 2 stars
7/25/04 Dan R. One of the worst movies that I have ever seen. An incoherent, historically inaccurate mess. 1 stars
7/25/04 maxomai Semi-decent characters, bad everything else. 2 stars
7/23/04 Lee Don't just run - flee screaming in panic from this hideous primordial dog-beast of a movie. 1 stars
7/22/04 malcolm good,but i'm tired of the inspirational-horseback-b4-battle speech (aragorn,wm. wallace) 3 stars
7/22/04 clester jake padron it's pretty awsome 5 stars
7/20/04 Steve Adams All the Violence without the blood 4 stars
7/20/04 arctic Fuqua's 2nd try w/"Tears of the Sun" theme is success & it rocks! 5 stars
7/18/04 Graeme Talboys Pretentious. Doesn't come close to historically accurate, let alone entertaining. 1 stars
7/17/04 Richard very good 3 stars
7/17/04 legend Interesting take on the King Arthur legend but not much action. 4 stars
7/17/04 Erin MacLeod I thought it was brave of them to try to tell the historical Arthur vs the romantic legend. 4 stars
7/16/04 Kevrenor Set 90 years too early, and with annoying history errors, it was still most enjoyable. 4 stars
7/15/04 Obi Wan Not great, but not bad. Ok Popcorn summer flick. 3 stars
7/15/04 Shawn P Amen to this review- everything I believe to a T! 1 stars
7/14/04 Gray needed to be an action not a drama (and truer to the story+history) 3 stars
7/13/04 You can't claim supreme executive authority... ... just because some watery tart lobbed a scimitar at you! 2 stars
7/12/04 miz keira is hot 1 stars
7/12/04 t.delveccio True Story of Arthur? HA! Hollywoodland crap 1 stars
7/11/04 mike i liked it, fighting is still fighting 5 stars
7/10/04 Eric Kincl Go in expecting KA - this movie sucks. Go in expecting an epic - KA is great. 4 stars
7/10/04 Wentworth Truly abysmal. If Arthur really lived, he'd be spinning in his grave 1 stars
7/09/04 Tim the Shrubber If you like King Arthur Flicks with no Arthur whatsoever, it's for you! 2 stars
7/09/04 Marce If your idea of a good movie is one you can make fun of and hackle, KA is fantastic! 2 stars
7/09/04 BrianWilly Pretty damn good...wonderful characters and moving storyline. 5 stars
7/08/04 Patsy clip-clop, clip-clop. lousy indeed! ok, if it wouldnt have been a king arthur legend! 2 stars
7/08/04 Mike McCartney If you enjoy Arthur without the legend, the romance, the magic or the intelligence, voila! 2 stars
7/08/04 Stevo Kudos for trying. Not quite trash, but close. 3 stars
7/08/04 jestyr well...i liked some of it....i think...well the ice sceen was cool... 3 stars
7/08/04 Eric Kincl Wasnt quite what I was expecting since its more historically acurate then the classic tails 4 stars
7/07/04 Arthur, King of the Britons Patsy, why have these people stolen my name and put it on a lousy movie? 1 stars
7/07/04 Kyle TRASH. 1 stars
7/07/04 Christina someone give Keira a big Mac 1 stars
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  07-Jul-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Dec-2004


  15-Jul-2004 (M)

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