Newest Review: ... and are starting to retreat back to Rome. The Britons covered in blue woed are starting to rise up against the Romans and looking for a... more
King Arthur kicks hide across the country
King Arthur (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
King Arthur (DVD)
Advantages: Great acting, believable tale
Disadvantages: Too dark and dreary
The 2004 film King Arthur is director Antoine Fuqua's chance to put his spin on Arthurian legend. Previous tales of the Arthur and his Knights of his Camelot, and his Queen Guinevere have tended to be made into fairytale stories, in keeping with an easy to watch theme. This version provides a more believable atmosphere, and although the characters are all there, they are not there in exactly the same format as legend would have you believe...
In 400 AD, King Arthur and his knights are set one last quest by the Roman Empire before earning their freedom. They must rescue an important family from invading Saxons, and transport them to safety through the treacherous countryside, withstandings attacks from the Woads, British rebels against the Roman Empire. We meet Guinevere, a Woadish princess who falls in love with Arthur, and we see the emotional game played here by Lancelot, who in turns falls for Guinevere. Torn between their mission, their freedom and their desire to defend the Woads against the Saxons, Arthur and his Knights face one final battle to determine their freedom forever.
The Cast and Performances
This is a dark tale, and the acting fits it perfectly. Clive Owen is moody as the powerful King Arthur, and Ioan Gruffudd plays a Lancelot who seems more of a poet and an emotional wreck than a soldier. Keira Knightley smolders as Guinevere, and there is a great supporting cast, including wonderful turns from Ken Stott and the ever-menacing Ray Winstone. The group of Knights provide a great display of camaradery and companionship thorugh the film, and this touched me as a viewer. It made me hungry for some battle scenes so I could see them in action as a team, and the film does disappoint in that respect. There is no weak acting in this film.
This is a very dark version of Arthurian events. It is not the tale of the King protecting his land, nor is it the tale of a wife stolen by the best friend. It is the humble and believable tale of a man and his men employed in the service of an Empire, seeking their freedom, and this is what makes it believable.
Yet it is depressing, too. Rarely is there a glimmer of light, and even the daytimes seem shadowed whether it be dawn, dusk or the middle of the day. I did enjoy the film, but it is proibably not one I will get excited about watching again. I was disappointed after the hype, but not disappointed with what is a quality fiolm in artistic terms, but lacks that 'oomph' of enjoyment which is so important.
The DVD extras do provide some interest. An alternative ending is on offer, as well as behind the scenes making of style documentary where a lot of the reasons behind making the film as it is are explained. Then there are trailers and a photo gallery - nothing spectacular.
The DVD is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £4.98 for the Director's Cut, which merely has more gore than the cinematic version.
Thanks for reading.
Summary: King Arthur (2004). A good film but only if you're in a good mood.