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Overall Rating
2.67

Awesome: 13.42%
Worth A Look: 18.12%
Average: 14.09%
Pretty Bad30.87%
Total Crap: 23.49%

6 reviews, 113 user ratings


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King Arthur (2004)
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by Scott Weinberg

"On second thought let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place."
2 stars

Proudly claiming to present the "fact-based" story of King Arthur is like proudly claiming to present the "chocolate-free" Hershey Bar. The beauty of the Arthurian legends lies in the magical, the mystical, and the mythical; sucking all that out of the story leaves you with a bloated husk of a tale, one that's innately boring, utterly tiresome and making its way to a multiplex under the banner of Mr. Jerry Bruckheimer.

Last year all the critics took a pleasantly surprising break from their perpetual Bruckheimer hate-fest, simply because the supremely successful producer somehow managed to strike some true movie gold with his Pirates of the Caribbean project. One is disappointed to note that the perpetual Bruckhiemer hate-fest is about to begin anew, as his most recent film is one so dry and lumbering, so airy, aimless and unintentionally hilarious, it almost single-handedly obliaterates all of the PotC goodwill from 12 months ago.

Those who pay close attention to the movie trends saw it coming way back in 2000. When Ridley Scott's Gladiator became a huge box office smash and an Oscar-night juggernaut, you could almost hear all the studio suits as they whispered, "Find me an epic. Now." And just a few short years later, the moviegoers are presented with a new sword-clangy, butt-kicky, testerone-flingy, gigantic battle-laden, machismo-drenched, angst-ridden tale of historical heroism every three months. Whether you're looking at Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, Russell Crowe in Master and Commander or Brad Pitt in Troy, you're seeing what Gladiator hath wrought. (And, yes, Mel Gibson's Braveheart as well, but going back that far would require more effort than I'm willing to expend for a movie as irritating as King Arthur is.)

Somehow under the mistaken impression that the tale of King Arthur would be more cinematically appealing without all that flashy magic mythology, Mr. Bruckheimer took his initially silly concept and handed it to a director best known for a film in which two actors sit inside of a car for 110 minutes. (That'd be Training Day for those unfamiliar with Antoine Fuqua's only worthwhile effort.)

The film opens with a laughable scrawl, one that uses words like "historians" and "agree" - but the next two hours are filled with fiction so arcane that it makes The Lord of the Rings look like a documentary. According to David Franzoni's dry and derivative screenplay, Arthur and his men are "Sarmatians" under the unwilling employ of the Romans...I think. Art and his Sword-Clangers are sent on one final mission before they're rewarded with freedom, and that mission is to chaperone some kid from Point A to Point B. It's basically the same old schpiel you'd find in Deathstaker 3 or Conan 2.

Since this is a movie composed almost entirely of scenes, characters, concepts and special effects lifted from earlier (better) films, it comes as no surprise when the litany of double-crosses, heroic demises and motivation swings hit the screen. What is particularly unexpected: the hilariously incongruous and self-mocking performance from the otherwise lovely Keira Knightley, who plays Guinevere as a tough-talkin' mini-Braveheart with boobies.

It's hard to pinpoint what the most glaring deficiency of King Arthur actually is; the movie makes basically no sense at all. Those hoping for a cohesive and/or compelling story line will find themselves nodding off after hour number one, while those enticed by the promise of big-action escapades will find themselves impatient, fidgety and, ultimately, more than a little irate. The acting performances are uniformly grim and uninteresting. Even the normally excellent Clive Owen (in the title role) seems bored and on the verge of a coma throughout much of the movie, while a similar-looking group of sidekicks do basically nothing to distinguish themselves from one another. Everyone's gravely noble and sweatily generic.

None of the characters on display, and this includes the painfully inert and faceless Head Baddie (as played by a stunningly out-of-place Stellan Skarsgard), command our interest, nor do the side-heroes who, by all rights, should absolutely command our attention. How one could make guys like Merlin, Lancelot and Galahad so amazingly boring is a feat for the ages, but Fuqua manages to suck all the life out of his narrative with very little effort. Even what should be the crowning achievements of a film like this, the action sequences, are directed in such a scattershot and sloppy fashion; once one finally figures out where all the characters are meant to be in relation to one another - the battle ends. The film's best scene, one that involves an arrow-brawl on a frozen lake, starts out in rollicking fashion...and then promptly takes a nose-dive into overwrought theatrics and unconvincing CGI.

If the original intent was to make a "warts and all" true-life adaptation of the Arthurian legend, the final product shows very little of that goal. Trimmed down to earn a PG-13 rating (from a movie that was probably just as incomprehensible anyway) and laden with every Epic Cliche you've ever seen, "King Arthur" is a royal bore across the board. If you're going to intentionally suck all the good parts out of a great tale, you'd be well served by replacing those parts with something other than dry political intrigue and painfully predictable gimmickry.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10197&reviewer=128
originally posted: 07/07/04 14:57:56
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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
6/01/09 Chuck Arthur protects life, liberty, and the pursiut of happiness. An utterly horrid Movie. 1 stars
8/21/08 Shaun Wallner Boring not worth it! 2 stars
5/16/08 elmo mcdonald I thought the Samurai dark ages fight scene was lame, as was 1 man vs 200 saxons 1 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT SINKS INTO A GRIM, GRAY TORPOR 1 stars
2/16/08 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
12/01/07 R.W.Welch Mostly interesting take on the origins of the Arthur Legend. Uneven but has atmosphere. 3 stars
8/13/07 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
1/31/07 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
12/15/06 Morgan As a diehard 'Excalibur' fan I was extremely pissed off and bored throughout - crap 1 stars
12/01/06 SabresFanatic Loved it but for the ending..that was lame! 4 stars
10/27/06 David Cohen Just as bogus as the legend (don't believe the hype) and one-tenth as enjoyable 2 stars
10/12/06 dalmation enjoyable, but where's the lady of the lake, and the magic!!!!!! 4 stars
10/08/06 EricTheViking Utter crap. Totally unfaithful to the legend. More American anti-british propaganda. Avoid! 1 stars
8/28/06 Dan Great idea, terrible execution. A shame, and a wasted opportunity. 1 stars
8/27/06 Jade I THINK THIS MOVIE IS ONE OF THE BEST MOVIES IN THE WORLD IT IS QUITE HISTORICALLY CORRECT 5 stars
4/10/06 lee good movie 4 stars
4/08/06 Andy Worst move I have ever seen. Don't waste your time. 1 stars
3/31/06 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
10/27/05 Michael Samreny This film continues to grow on me. Strangely the legend has become more fascinating. 5 stars
10/24/05 PAUL GREENHALGH GOOD FILM BUT DOES NOT SHOW THE US MARINES SAVING THE DAY SO IT WILL NOT POPULAR IN THE US 4 stars
9/26/05 Jonathon Holmes watch "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" instead 2 stars
9/08/05 Ric Bland story, but the exciting battles and beautiful cinematography make it worth watching. 4 stars
8/28/05 Quigley used insutling advertisement campaigns. the CG was horrible. I hated this movie. watch LOTR 1 stars
8/26/05 Lynda Great movie 5 stars
8/19/05 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
8/01/05 chad c bad movie 1 stars
7/23/05 Ernie Santangelo good story of authur without the fluff You understand why he was mystified 4 stars
7/21/05 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
4/28/05 reptilesni Really. Really. Boring. 1 stars
4/20/05 Chris Stephens Watch the uncut version on DVD 4 stars
4/19/05 Maril Smith I thought this film was pretty interesting 3 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway Was entertaining enough 3 stars
4/16/05 Southern bell It was a new take on the legend of king arthur that leads to utter confusion 2 stars
4/13/05 Quigley one of the worst insults in film today. repetitive battles with CG that made it look sick 1 stars
4/05/05 Eugene Mortensen at one time john boorman was a great director now he just makes crap 1 stars
4/03/05 Charlene Javier Not even Keira can save this one. 2 stars
4/01/05 Tracie Armendariz Long and overdrawn. The splendor of the King Auther legend is sadly lacking in this movie. 2 stars
3/31/05 hannaho It could have been worse, it could have been "A Knight's Tale 2" 2 stars
3/04/05 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
2/20/05 Dan It's ok, not as good as I thought it would be, but good none the less. 3 stars
1/30/05 Bob Barton I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. 4 stars
1/25/05 Dr. Z One of the best if not the best films of this type (knights, etc) that I have ever seen. 5 stars
1/19/05 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
1/13/05 Aaron Brown An awesome movie that shows that there was a real King Arthur. 5 stars
1/07/05 Matt I thought it might not be astonishingly accurate but it was cool! 5 stars
12/28/04 efrain i saw it in the theatre and i was falling asleep. boring. 3 stars
12/26/04 Freddy just rented the directors cut dvd. way better than expected! 5 stars
12/23/04 Jeff The reviewers are fucking idiots. 5 stars
12/19/04 ELI zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
11/06/04 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
9/08/04 Jenny Tullwartz Arthur as a Braveheart wannabee -- Pretty lame! 2 stars
9/08/04 Stephanie Throckmorton Let's call this revisionist history SHAMELOT!! 2 stars
9/07/04 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
9/01/04 Lauriett If it were not for Ioan Gruffudd, I wouldn't have put up through the ordeal of watching it. 2 stars
8/27/04 Aaron Smith solid tale of Briton warrior; woderful scenery 5 stars
8/20/04 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
8/03/04 Steve Newman Not as good as i hoped - arrow scenes 1st class 3 stars
7/31/04 Gabrielle Go Worh a look 4 stars
7/27/04 S.F. An entertaining distortion of the Arthurian Legend. Slow at first then picks up. 4 stars
7/27/04 TUFAN Some worthy characters. Making K. Knightley always sexy & ready for the camera too obvious 2 stars
7/27/04 jada souless with no substance, no character definition, NOTHING! 2 stars
7/26/04 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
7/23/04 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
7/21/04 Steve Adams All the Violence without the blood 4 stars
7/21/04 arctic Fuqua's 2nd try w/"Tears of the Sun" theme is success & it rocks! 5 stars
7/19/04 Graeme Talboys Pretentious. Doesn't come close to historically accurate, let alone entertaining. 1 stars
7/18/04 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
7/17/04 Kevrenor Set 90 years too early, and with annoying history errors, it was still most enjoyable. 4 stars
7/16/04 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
7/15/04 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
7/13/04 miz keira is hot 1 stars
7/12/04 t.delveccio True Story of Arthur? HA! Hollywoodland crap 1 stars
7/12/04 mike i liked it, fighting is still fighting 5 stars
7/11/04 Eric Kincl Go in expecting KA - this movie sucks. Go in expecting an epic - KA is great. 4 stars
7/11/04 Wentworth Truly abysmal. If Arthur really lived, he'd be spinning in his grave 1 stars
7/10/04 Tim the Shrubber If you like King Arthur Flicks with no Arthur whatsoever, it's for you! 2 stars
7/10/04 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
7/09/04 Patsy clip-clop, clip-clop. lousy indeed! ok, if it wouldnt have been a king arthur legend! 2 stars
7/09/04 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
7/08/04 Arthur, King of the Britons Patsy, why have these people stolen my name and put it on a lousy movie? 1 stars
7/08/04 Kyle TRASH. 1 stars
7/08/04 Christina someone give Keira a big Mac 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Jul-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Dec-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Jul-2004 (M)




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