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Overall Rating

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 Erik Childress

"When You Get Caught Between The Truth And Jerry Bruckheimer"
2 stars

Does anyone really want to see a movie boasting the “true story” of King Arthur? What’s the point? Records and facts are for documentaries on A&E and The History Channel. Only when the truth becomes legend do you film it. The variations of the Arthurian legend are vast in literature and cinema. As a student of the myths and just a damn fascinating tale, I wouldn’t mind researching how the stories were formed. Every legend has an origin and an excellent film can be made from those roots. Antoine Fuqua and Jerry Bruckheimer’s version is what you get when you’ve forgotten where one left the seeds.

King Arthur is very much like watching The History Channel. Except the facts are shady, it’s longer, not cohesive in its storytelling, there are no commercials and you can’t change the station. What we’re told is that Arturius (or “Arthur”) (Clive Owen) was a Roman general who rode around with his Magnificent Seven Knights and basically finished off battles when other Romans came up limp. Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) was one of many boys whisked away Conan-style at an early age to serve his 15-year duty for King and Country. Although exactly who is in charge is a bit hazy.

In Fuqua’s last film (Tears of the Sun) Bruce Willis was a Special-Forces leader of a small, elite team ordered into the Nigerian jungle to escort doctors and holy people out to safety, including the lovely Monica Bellucci. When they refuse he grows a conscience, taking out more people than he should while a nefarious army approaches with every minute. His team eventually gets tired of running and makes a stand.

In King Arthur, the title character commanded a small, elite team of knights who are ordered (on apparently the 14th year and 364th day, no less) to escort the godson of the Pope and his family out to safety. When they refuse, he sees the religious persecution being perpetrated, grows a conscience and orders everyone to leave, taking prisoners like the lovely Guinevere (Keira Knightley) as well. Naturally, they slow down the trek and are being followed by a “far and terrible” Saxon army. Arthur and his knights eventually get tired of running and decide to make a stand. In the words of Tom Servo – “Whoopti-shit.”

Are we to believe that the origins of the Arthurian legend resides somewhere within this bland rescue mission? All his accomplishments that we’ve heard about over the ages were molded out of this stale, non-descript adventure? They even murder one of the holy men they were delivering and their superiors don’t seem to care or even notice. This could have been Dudley Moore on the immortal quest for his hat as far as we care.

Merlin is rumored to be a magician, but is presented as a dirty hippie living in the words commanding a renegade Smurf army. Guinevere (who takes nearly an hour before showing up) belongs to these tree people. Despite having half of her fingers busted and reinserted, she’s able to maintain her pinpoint archery skills. Lancelot has a roving eye and makes jokes about sleeping with other men’s wives, so some guy in a bar must have made up the rumor he was giving Gwen the other end of the sword behind Arthur’s back.

At no time does David Franzoni’s screenplay even muster up the gumption to piece together the elements of the story that could formulate a legend. There’s always someone in epics telling stories to the poor of the great man who has come to save them. Excalibur was pulled from a grave. Great, there’s your sword-and-stone explanation. There’s an “evil” round table where every man is created equal. Fine.

So when did people start speaking of the Holy Grail? Was Camelot just an Alamo-like fort that the knights once defended? How about the Lady of the Lake? Was there ever a bitchy half-sister who thought she could perform magic? When did sorcery and incestuous kids with a Goldmember complex sneak into the legend? Don’t go looking for answers here, even in a playful Shakespeare In Love connect-the-dots kinda way because the movie is over before you start wondering if Arthur was ever officially pronounced as King.

You’ll be too busy figuring out who’s more bored – you or Stellan Skarsgaard (as a nameless villain I like to call John the Saxon) to care. Seriously, Brando never feigned this much boredom on a set. Skarsgaard appears so uninterested in moving, let alone voicing his dialogue that he just stops fighting people and even begins to hand out bread in-between scenes.

Fuqua’s direction of the bloodless action is lifeless with a lot of swiping, falling down and someone off-screen throwing in dirt every couple of seconds. I’d truly love to hear the strategy of two armies squaring off on a frozen lake after they know it’s already starting to break. Some misshapen Red Sea metaphor to balance the persecution angle of the non-believers perhaps, but more likely the filmmakers once heard of Lake Peipus and Alexandre Nevskii. Fuqua will never be confused for Eisenstein though.

I can imagine Bruckheimer sitting Fuqua down in a screening room, popping in a copy of Braveheart and asking “can you give me something like that?” Any answer other than “DUH, yeah I tink tso” still wouldn’t explain the conception of this project. It’s certainly nowhere near a starting point for PG-13-aimed youngsters to become interested in the character. Those steeped in Thomas Malory’s “La Morte d’Arthur” or T.H. White’s “The Once & Future King” will leave with the resounding thud of “what the HELL?” I’ll concede I’ve lost the bet that the casting of Richard Gere as Lancelot would be the low point of King Arthur films, but JESUS CHRIST, Monty Python presented more of a true story than this.

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originally posted: 07/07/04 14:01:02
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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
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
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
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
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  07-Jul-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Dec-2004


  15-Jul-2004 (M)

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