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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look: 18%
Average: 14.67%
Pretty Bad30.67%
Total Crap: 23.33%

6 reviews, 114 user ratings

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King Arthur (2004)
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by Brian McKay

"It's no EXCALIBUR, but it's no FIRST KNIGHT either."
3 stars

KING ARTHUR deserves a modicum of respect for attempting to impart some historical accuracy without the trappings of wizardry and magic swords. But while it feels more genuine in its stripped-down Romanesque environs, only those who failed their history classes would ever believe that this is the TRUE origins of King Arthur. What it is, however, is a fairly entertaining romp with a solid cast and some good (if, at times, tactically flawed) action sequences

Forget all you know about the traditional mysticism surrounding Arthur and his Knights - that is the key to enjoying King Arthur. Things are not going to play out like they do in all of the standard retellings - and in a way, that's pretty damn refreshing. There's a tale worth being told at the heart of King Arthur, with the only drawbacks coming in the form of some questionable tactics and some really big plot contrivances.

It is the beginning of the end for the Roman Empire. Besieged by barbarian invaders on all sides, the empire is withdrawing its troops from all outposts it deems as "indefensible" - including the isle of Britannia. This leaves only the commander Arturius (Clive Owen) and his conscripted, yet faithful, Sarmatian knights to carry out a last-ditch rescue effort - to retrieve the Pope's godson from the path of a ravaging Saxon horde. Why a family so favored by the Pope would be living in the godforsaken and enemy-infested lands north of Hadrian's wall is just one of the annoying gaps of logic in the film's script, but we'll just have to put it aside for now. Promised their freedom from service in the Roman army if they carry out this last mission, the noble Arthur and his men ride into perilous country to rescue the papal youth and his family - only to find that the lad's father is a cruel son of a bitch to his serfs, and that the Saxons are breathing down their necks. This culminates in Arthur and his men buying the fleeing peasants some time by taking on a large Saxon force on the surface of a frozen lake. While it's a very cool battle scene visually, one has to wonder - wouldn't they have been smarter to climb up onto the nearby rocks and engage their attackers from there? I wouldn't be so keen to hack at the ice with a battle axe if my buddies behind me were left just as vulnerable as the enemy in front of me. Such is the beginning of the film's flawed portrayal of medieval tactics.

Nevertheless, the fight scenes themselves are competently arranged, delivering maximum satiation for the viewer's bloodlust without having to be particularly bloody (PG-13, don't ya know). And if this film has a saving grace besides the impressive visuals, it's the winning supporting cast. Although Keira Knightley's "Guinevere, half-naked Warrior Queen" seems like something much more out of a fanciful Robert E. Howard pulp novel than historical fact, the chemistry and comraderie between Arthur and his men is charming and convincing, despite plenty of anachronistic flourishes in the dialogue. And while Clive Owen has been accused of being dull or wooden in the role of Arthur, I found his portrayal to be subdued yet full of strength and earnest. The more subtle nature of his character is a fine contrast to the more boisterous ways in which his best friend Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) and his other knights carry on. The bond between Arthur and his men feels sincere, and that covers a multitude of tactical and historical discrepancies as they charge into battle.

The truth of the matter is that the true origins of Arthur will never fully be known. Historians and archeologists may speculate, and they may sometimes be right - but the fact of the matter is that this particular period of history is far too murky to ever reveal any clear-cut and satisfying answers about who the "real" King Arthur was. Nevertheless, KING ARTHUR makes a more valiant attempt than most, delivering a worthwhile action-drama that is just grounded enough in real history to be intriguing.

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originally posted: 07/13/04 13:23:45
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User Comments

9/01/20 morris campbell decent 3 stars
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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