This movie was really good. I kind of got lost in the details of the whole scenario (i.e. who’s what breed, who’s related to who), but the movie moved along fine without all those details (I just get stuck on details). One distinction that needs to be made now is that the movie is not an adaptation of T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King”, nor a re-telling of the Arthur legend, but the “real story” behind the legend. It’s the story of a half-Roman, half-British general named Arthur leading a group of Russian (Sarmatian) mercenaries in an epic battle against time and the unstoppable Germans (Saxons) who are invading Britain (for the first and only time). He does get help in the final battle from the Woads, who are basically all the ancient Celtic tribes mushed together for movie-goers sake (according to a Keira Knightley interview).
Speaking of Keira, the actors in the film were phenomenal and mostly unknown, with the exception of Clive Owen and Keira. Aside from the obviously easy names, I dare you to correctly pronounce the names of any one else in the cast. Not to say that their unknown-ness is a bad thing. They all did wonderful jobs with their characters. I liked all of the knights, but in particular, I liked Tristan. He is defined as a lone wolf kind of character who is deadly with a blade or a bow and a terror on the battlefield. He was just so much fun to watch.
I was really excited about this film because it was a Jerry Bruckheimer production (I really enjoy his productions, even if they cost $180 million (Pirates total cost)) and it was about King Arthur. Bruckheimer brings a darkness and a “nitty-gritty” feeling to his pictures. There’s lots of smoke and dirt and blood and gore involved and it has a sense of realism about it, more-so than being about the man behind the legend. And who doesn’t love the story of King Arthur? I mean, come on. It’s a classic hero tale. Everybody loves to cheer for the hero…except Michael Moore. He thinks we’re all really bad people and we should all just…oh that’s right, you didn’t come here for a political rant…sorry. Um…the battle sequences were awesome! Just the sheer scope of it was incredible.
But it wasn’t just about the battles, it was about the underlying honor (thank goodness they did the honor up right unlike Troy) and why the battles were being fought. Arthur wasn’t just written as some kind of British king who leads a group of gallant warriors (like that old cartoon I remember where the knights where 12th century Power Rangers…oh, you missed that one…that’s ok)*. He was written as a general whose idealism in his adopted country and religion begins to fade. Of course, that credit goes to David Franzoni, mastermind behind DreamWorks Pictures Gladiator and Amistad and the upcoming Vin Diesel picture Hannibal. He’s a screenwriter that isn’t afraid to rewrite history (or popular opinion as it is commonly referred to) in order to tell a great story. With this movie, he challenges accepted views of that period by saying that Arthur wasn’t royalty and Guinevere wasn’t a damsel in distress (although I just don’t buy that any historians can agree on anything…except that they agree to disagree).
Then there’s the man behind the camera, Antoine Fuqua. Training Day was absolutely amazing, and he brings the same absolutely amazing-ness to this 5th century tale. Yeah, Disney hacked it into a PG-13 box, but you know I’m waiting for the R-rated Directors Cut (which will probably never exist…sigh) which will have all his really good footage, even though all the footage he ended up with was really good.
As I said before, I loved this movie. Probably the aspect I liked the most was how the characters you know from Arthurian legend where introduced. That part really got to me because it was like…spotting cameos in movies, which I really love to do. Because you would just be going through this movie and then go, “OH! That’s Guinevere!” and then continue enjoying the movie. Now let’s hope that it can hold steam against Spiderman-2. Wait, who am I kidding. As much as I want it to succeed like Pirates did, it won’t because of Spidey. Oh well. There’s always the next Bruckheimer film…Pirates 2 & 3 (yeah…it’s a back-to-back filming extravaganza…maybe it will work better than Matrix…oops, did I say that out loud?).
*Of course, I’m referring to a little known TV show called King Arthur and the Knights of Justice.