By Esosa Omo-Usoh
There is no magic formula in determining whether a movie would turn out a success or a dud at the box office. Sometimes, a movie’s simplicity both in story and storytelling resonates with the audience. Sometimes, its complexity is what excites the audience. At other times, it’s the simplicity that kills audience interest. And then there are times, it is its complexity that puts you off.
Ever since Kevin Costner’s Water World launched the era of the average Hollywood movie costing the equivalent of a small 3rd world country’s GDP, Hollywood has thrown itself into the big-budget production frenzy that is really no more than an expensive attempt to cover up its lack of fresh movie ideas.
The advancement in CGI technology has only encouraged this mental laziness in Hollywood. It is almost as if Hollywood has convinced itself that all you need to engage audience interest is big-budget productions with over-the-top CGI effects. To be honest, sometimes it works and other times, it doesn’t. In King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, it was the latter.
Rumored to be the launch pad for a proposed 6-movie franchise, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not Director Guy Ritchie’s first foray into period movies. His take on Sherlock Holmes is not only refreshing but also met with both critical and box office success.
But this time around, while he has Sherlock Holmes alumni, Jude Law in supporting role, his leading man in the titular role is Charlie Hunnam, more famous for his role in the Biker Gang cult classic TV series, Sons of Anarchy, and to a lesser degree for turning down the titular lead role in Fifty Shades of Grey.
King Arthur is a 2017 origin take on the classic story of King Arthur and his magical sword, the Excalibur. The movie opens with an elaborate CGI-heavy battle scene that looked like it was borrowed from the Lord of the Rings. Perhaps, it was on account of this similarity with the battle scene in the Lord of the Rings but this opening battle scene did not quite leave me with excitement for what else was to come. Despite its elaborate and impressive (?) CGI effects, it left no tingling feeling of expectations in my toes. It clearly did not have the “waow!” effect.
Soon after the rather anti-climactic end to the opening battle scene that saw the King (played by Eric Bana) emerge victorious; a palace coup engineered by his treacherous brother (Played by Jude Law) takes place. The king and his wife are killed but their infant son is literally dispatched to safety in a boat that makes its way to Londonium where he is rescued and eventually raised by a couple of prostitutes.
Director, Guy Ritchie speeds the audience through his growing up years via his signature montage sequence. This is where it gets a bit confusing. The montage soundtrack had a techno-music feel to it that makes its decidedly inappropriate for a period movie.
The scenes in which a shirtless, King Arthur undergoes fight trainings were more martial arts than the sword fight that should have been more period accurate. Then there was the inclusion of Djimon Honsou’s Sir Bedivere and Tom Wu’s George which seemed more pandering to today’s diversity conventional wisdom than a depiction of period authenticity.
From here on out, the movie just disintegrated into a montage of CGI-laden fight scenes, pakour-jump scenes a la Assassin’s Creed and those depressing greyish forest scenes a la Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman.
The story of King Arthur and his sword, the Excalibur in and of itself has a magic that any audience should find enthralling. But in this movie, that magic was lost in the dull and depressing canvass of CGI effects that the movie relied on to tell its story. Save for Jude Law’s noticeable attempt to inject a bit of acting into the movie, the performances seemed rather secondary to the real star of the movie; the umimpressive elaborate CGI effects.
It is therefore no surprise that the movie failed to replicate at the box office the magic it failed to replicate in movie theatres. With a budget of $175m, it’s less than magical first weekend draw at the box office puts it in good stead to be 2017’s very first summer blockbuster dud. Hopefully, this will put an end to any attempt to create a franchise out of this movie. If the producers fail to heed this warning, then King Arthur’s Excalibur might come in handy in the ensuing harakiri that might attend a sequel to this uninspiring retelling of a magical legend.
Watch the trailer below: