Tag Archives: Guy Richie

More Like ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Snore’

King_Arthur_LotS_posterWhat just happened?

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” stars Charlie Hunnam as the titular character, and follows his origin story of finding the sword Excalibur and stopping the warlord who killed his father. Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou and Eric Bana also star as Guy Ritchie directs.

There are flashes of fun and inventiveness sporadically sprinkled throughout this film. When Arthur and his friends are riffing with a member of the King’s army, the editing and script are fast paced and enjoyable as they recount how they spent their morning. It’s clearly a Ritchie scene and is by far my favorite moment of the film. The smaller, human interactions where characters are just talking and the film is based in reality are where the script is at its most natural, and I wish there were more instances of this being a 5th century period piece instead of a magical fantasy.

When Arthur finally learns how to wield the sword the effects are pretty cool, with time slowing down and Arthur slicing through bad guys with CGI ease. However that is really the only time the supernatural aspects of the film work. In every other instance involving magic, the scenes range from “that was dumb” to “what the actual heck is happening?” Arthur has to go on a “spirit quest” to fight his inner demons and the reasons and rules of the scene are never explained. There is a mage who can control animals with her mind and it is just a lazy get out of jail free card for the writers when they had no other ideas how to resolve a conflict. And then there is the film’s climax.

Everything was going fine enough as we approached the final act. I wasn’t quite bored and there had been enough enjoyable moments that I felt I was going to be able to give this a passable grade; but then the last 20 minutes happened. I won’t spoil it in case you go against my opinion and still wish to see this, but the final act of this film is nothing short of nonsensical, loud, dark and stupid. There is no tension, no enjoyment and nothing feels earned or even makes sense. It is like “Warcraft” had some stock footage left over and Guy Ritchie decided to throw it in his movie; in fact the entire third act was like watching someone else playa  video game, which is only fun for about five minutes.

The performances are all fine, although I couldn’t tell you the name of a single character not named Arthur, much less their motivations. And no one chews scenery or goes so over-the-top that they’re so awful that they’re stupidly enjoyable. The film looks solid enough, with the production design of 5th century England with its decadent castles, foggy mountains and dusty brothels all putting you in the time period.

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is a disappointment, mainly because Guy Ritchie has a track record of making films that are at the very least enjoyable. Here, his editing is confusing, his narrative is sloppy and his inability to decide whether he wants to make an epic fantasy adventure or a boots-on-the-ground knight’s tale creates a mess in tones. If you are a turn-your-brain-off kinda moviegoer you may get some in-the-moment thrills, but for anyone else I really think you’d be better served saving your time and money.

Critics Rating: 4/10

king arthur

‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Convoluted But Cool

imageSomewhere between the style of “Mission: Impossible” and the wit of James Bond lies “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Based on the ’60s TV show of the same name, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” stars Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as KBG agent Illya Kuryakin. Against each of their wills, the two must team up to stop an organization from building a nuclear bomb. Guy Richie directs and co-writes as Alicia Vikander and Hugh Grant also star.

This film was originally supposed to come out this past January, but it was pushed back until August. Neither month usually indicates studios having faith in the films that are released during them, so the fact that “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is not a complete train wreck should be a victory within itself. What’s more, is the film is a fun, light-hearted take on the early spy films, with just enough style to overcome its lack of substance.

One of my biggest gripes about Henry Cavill in “Man of Steel” was his American accent. It never felt authentic, as if the British native read “How Americans Talk for Dummies” and just walked on set. In “U.N.C.L.E.” (boy, that is getting annoying to keep typing), Cavill is able to give an almost satirical spin on the classy, suave American secret agents, and it works to his benefit. If you’ve ever watched “Archer” (which if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do), Cavill’s Solo is pretty much a real-life version of the show’s titular character: a smooth-talking womanizer who almost always has a Scotch in hand.

Paired with Cavill is Armie Hammer, using a somewhat awkward Russian accent. I like Armie in most everything he does (we’re on a first name basis because we’re good friends), but I have to wonder the logic behind the casting here. British actors portraying American characters is nothing new (see: this film), but whenever Americans, or most any nationalities, really, use Russian accents it is almost always mocked. Hammer and Cavill have passable chemistry, but they never mesh the way the film wants them to.

Director Guy Richie has always been known for style-over-substance, and he makes no effort to change his ways here. The film looks great and features quick dialogue with editing to match, but those things come at the expense of a wooden, recycled plot. It’s a tale you’ve seen a hundred times: two feuding people must put aside their differences in order to defeat a common enemy. It’s nothing new and the film never tries to throw any twists in the formula.

Most of the action is shot very well, including a fantastically entertaining (if not a bit misleading) opening car chase sequence. Richie knows where to put a camera, and Cavill and Hammer are able to sell their stunts.

How much fun and enjoyment you get out of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” really depends on your ability to overlook simplicity. Cavill gives a charming and humorous performance and the set pieces of 1963 Rome and Berlin provide eye candy, but some of the other performances are over-the-top and the plot is cliché cardboard. In mid-August you can’t expect much from movies, but if you are just looking for a good, simple time at the cinema, then “U.N.C.L.E.’s” your uncle.

Critics Rating: 6/10