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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 EricDSnider

"Ambitious idea, nice try, and a pretty good movie ... up to a point."
4 stars

Antoine Fuqua's "King Arthur" assumes the ambitious task of taking the romance and magic out of that familiar tale and giving us a more fact-based account instead. Fans of Camelot and Excalibur and all the sentimental trappings normally associated with Arthur will be disappointed to find that this film is more about war than chivalry, and that everyone is filthy most of the time.

The concept is intriguing. While King Arthur is among cinema's most often visited characters, the reality of the legend has not been explored before in film. This depiction is still not entirely accurate, of course, and much of the real King Arthur is still unknown to history. But it takes a shot at it, and it tells a good story, anyway.

Set in around 460 A.D., we learn of the Sarmatians, recruited by Rome as youths and sent on 15-year posts to guard and protect the part of Britain that Rome occupies, i.e., everything south of Hadrian's Wall, midway up the isle. These knights, under the leadership of Rome-appointed Arthur (Clive Owen), go about the countryside protecting and defending, all the while looking forward to the day of their release.

We meet noble Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), whom we saw as a boy in a prologue that has no relevance to the rest of the film; the mighty Bors (Ray Winstone), father of a dozen bastard children by the same woman, whom he doesn't feel like marrying; Dagonet (Ray Stevenson), strong with an ax; Galahad (Hugh Dancy), who above all wants to return to a normal life of love and romance; Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), who has a hawk for a friend; and Gawain (Joel Edgerton), whose devotion to the battle rather than returning to his homeland makes him an easy bet for getting killed.

Arthur and the knights have two regular groups of enemies. There are rogue Britons called Woads who live like savages in the forest and who want Rome out of their country once and for all; they are advised by a mad wizard named Merlin (Stephen Dillane). And then there are the Saxons, barbaric killers from the north who seldom dare to cross Hadrian's Wall. They are led by Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgard), who must constantly remind his bitter son Cynric (Til Schweiger) that he, not Cynric, is in charge.

The Woads are about to get their wish, as Rome is pulling its military presence out of Britain altogether. But on the eve of their release, Arthur and company are given one final order: Go north into Saxon territory and get a landowner named Marius and his family -- especially his son Alecto, who is the pope's favorite godson -- out of there safely before Rome removes itself and the place goes to hell. Few of the knights are interested in this "Saving Private Ryan"-ish task -- and they haven't even SEEN "Saving Private Ryan" -- but Arthur is assured by Bishop Germanius (Ivano Marescotti) that once it's done, they'll be free men. Arthur gives his men his word, and Arthur's word is good as gold.

What they find at Marius' compound is that Marius (Ken Stott) has created a nice empire for himself full of false propheting -- he's told everyone he speaks for God -- and rife with the byproducts of religious over-zealousness. Naturally, he doesn't want to leave, Saxons or no Saxons. A Woad named Guinevere (Keira Knightley) is among the people captured and tortured by Marius' servants; her presence in the film is unnecessary, but perhaps is a gesture to those who simply can't imagine a King Arthur story without her.

Arthur, a Christian who believes in equality and free will, is already undergoing a crisis of faith, and now here's Marius, believing some are born to be servants and insisting Rome and the church agree with him. These deep themes of disillusionment, fate and honor fit right in with a movie that often seems oppressive and heavy. The lush green countrysides blanketed in fog, photographed beautifully by Slawomir Idziak, feel mournful and melancholy, and while there are numerous light moments in the story, it is overall one of duty and combat.

Director Fuqua, again doing "Training Day"-quality work after his "Tears of the Sun" misstep, admirably handles the scope and size of the film, and the script by David Franzoni (nominated for an Oscar for "Gladiator") affords several opportunities for a good director to shine. There is, for example, a terrific battle sequence set on a barely frozen lake, with knights and Saxons facing off while ice cracks all around them. It thrills nearly as well as any action scene we'll see this summer.

Clive Owen is an excellent choice as Arthur, for Owen excels at playing weary, obligated men. Note his performances in "Croupier," "Gosford Park" -- even that series of BMW short films where he played a chauffeur driver. Owen's characters tend to be resourceful and intelligent, but secretly yearning to be freed of whatever duties have beset them. In this film, that is Arthur to a tee.

By the end, unfortunately, all of the larger themes dissolve into battle scenes that recall the battle scenes in the "Lord of the Rings" films -- bearded men shooting arrows at each other all look the same after a while -- only without the added layer of humanity. "King Arthur" is a good enterprise, and it makes a good run at it, but by the last act, it's just the same old Saxon violence.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10197&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/07/04 15:29:19
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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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