January 16, 2005

King Arthur (2004)

“Grrr. I’m gonna smurfing bite the head off this movie!”

Plain old action and gore film makes sense, until the chick shows up.

Details follow below the fold.

It’s not surprising they have put Ms. Knightley front and center in the advertising for this film (especially now that it’s on DVD), she appears more prominently in all of the posters and in the DVD jacket art. It’s understandable, that she appears in the skimpiest outfit she wears in the film, but I find it slightly annoying that they have her looking normal skin-colored. In the film, Ms. Knightley plays Guinevere who is a Woad. The Woads in this movie all cover themselves with a blue-gray pigment when in battle gear, so you never see anything close to what you see if you take a look at the dvd art. Compare and contrast. Original poster. New promotional material. Image from the film(scroll down for 3rd image).

In any case, about halfway through this film, if you are like me, you’ll be thinking:

_”Hey, this movie is not half bad. Superhuman knights are forced to fight britons (the pagan, forest-dwelling woads) for Rome because of an old debt of their ancestors, even though they are britons themselves. The invasion of the ruthless saxon army heralds the end of the roman occupation, but not before the knights must accomplish one final, deadly mission to secure their freedom.

Exciting stuff. Sure, there’s a bit too much of the prancing around. And I have no idea whether any of this makes any historical sense. It’s certainly nothing like the Arthur stories I remember. But if it turnes out to be a good movie, I don’t care all that much.

But where’s Kiera Knightley? Isn’t she in this movie?”_

Soon after that, Knightley shows up as the woad Guinevere, saved by Arthur from roman Christian torturers. What? Whatever.

Immediately, the movie plunges downhill. Guinevere speaks perfect English. Why? She immediately becomes a source of really bad lines that were obviously meant to sound cool and funny coming from a tough woman. But they sound dumb, and I don’t blame Ms. Knightley. This is a woman who was supposedly starved and tortured, and she’s in pretty good spirits and quickly none the worse for wear. And we have to listen to her cooing at Arthur about how her father talked about the legendary knight. I’m sorry, but that just creeped me out as I started trying to do the math.

Before the end, there are a few very well executed gory battle scenes. In fact, if you stick with the beginning and end you have a passable mindless action movie. But the plot tries to play catchup in the middle when you really have been fine without anything complex.

In short, this movie is mostly harmless. Feel free to fast forward almost any time Guinevere is on the screen, thanks to the screenwriter.

Posted by James at January 16, 2005 10:56 AM
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You know, that bothered me too. They showed that bit, with Guinevere telling Arthur that her father told her tales about him, in a TV trailer. I had convinced myself that I misunderstood something about the exchange...you know how TV trailers can be misleading. It's good to know that it was just as confusing in the context of the movie.

Posted by: Sharon at January 17, 2005 11:35 AM

That wasn't the worst of it even.

There's a cool scene on a frozen lake soon after they set off back to Hadrian's Wall, and the tension leading up to the scene is ruined by a lame exchange between Guinevere and Lancelot.

Also, wasn't Lancelot the son of a king in France?

The film basically dumps all the old mythology for a new story. But yet it keeps a lot of the names, and I don't think that makes sense either.

Posted by: James at January 17, 2005 1:15 PM

They needed to keep the names to get people interested. From what you describe it couldn't have been very accurate. The Romans were gone when the Saxons invaded. There were of course people who were of Roman descent but government wise Britain was on it's own by that point.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at January 17, 2005 3:02 PM

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