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 King Arthur
 Critic's Rating
   [B]
 Date Posted
   8th August, 2004
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Cast: Clive Owen, Stephen Dillane, Keira Knightley
Director: Antoine Fuqua

The chronology of various fabled legends of folklore, have had their sagas personified in numerous diversified styles, altered considerably by the approach of cinematic scriptwriting. For the most part, the scripts waver noticably, emerging as rather presumptuous and wrinkled. The rest, either follow the pattern set by their predecessors, or audaciously venture into paths which are inventive, yet  incredibly chancy. The Antoine Fuqua directed and Jerry Bruckheimer produced summer blockbuster, "King Arthur,"  can be endorsed as a cross between the former and the latter. The anticipation of a pulsating action spectacle from the artful duo, is not wholly satisfied, due to the inadequate and defective nature of the visual production and filming. Yet, the idiosyncrasy of the whole project is that the script provides an able blanket to make up for the visual fragility. This is a paradox, when compared to the preceding big screen epics that concentrated on advancement in the field of cinematics, rather than the amendmentt of a deviating script. King Arthur is a welcome shift from the one dimensional lion-hearted combatant, to a more humane one.

Starring Clive Owen as the immortal Arthur, the film starts off with a prologue of Lancelot the Sarmatian, being compelled as a young lad, to serve the Rome army with a compulsion of fifteen long years.Those fifteen years are then advanced, which leads us to the celebrated warrior, Arthur, and his infamous band of Sarmatian knights.They are bound to serve the devious and pretentious Rome administration in the name of the church, and embark on a final mission to rescue a young boy, whom the Pope views as his future successor. This they must accomplish, before he falls into the clutches of the mighty Saxons, who plot to capture the boy and coerce a ransom. The script rapidly moves on, with subtle twists, as the knights encounter various stricken characters, one of whom is the enamouring Guinevere(Keira Knightley). The attraction between Arthur and Guinevere is easily foreseeable, highlighting the needless addition of a romantic twist to the tale, shifting the focus from the gripping culmination of the adventure, if only for a moment, to the conventional tedious affair, that we have come to wearily associate with the genre of epics.

Owen is arresting and sophisticated as the noble Arthur, showcasing the interlaced confliction, between his faith, and his loyalty to the country he serves.The self-questioning of his complex duties and his many-faceted beliefs is depicted magnetically with sublime expression and assertive, yet sympathized disquistion.To be fair to Knightley, her characterization of Guinevere, was perfectly acceptable in the circumstances and not overly dramatized. Her theatrical instincts, coupled with her bewitching charm and elegant poise, should elevate her standing even further, and cease the talk of her being another run of the mill Hollywood starlet. The knights were all distinctive and were credible in their efforts. Lancelot was a treat to watch, his constant jibes at Bors who reciprocated with a quirky and jovial sense of humor, added just the right element into the mix. Stellen Skarsgard was exceptional as the evil Saxon warlord. His semblance put the finishing touches on a fine all round acting display. Merlin was barely acknowledged, resembling a tribal chief, and this proved to be one of the few  flaws with regard to the script.

The direction and cinematography was less than impressive, with Fuqua excessively relying on acclerated cut-aways during the battle scenes .His objective might have been to fluster and astonish the viewer, with enthralling shots of  swishing swords and the resultant mangled bodies, but ultimately it comes off as too brisk and addling to comprehend. Plaudits to David Franzoni(Gladiator) for writing an honest script, as it carried the whole adventure admirably with only a few character glitches, most notably the Merlin gimmick, but overall the legend was interpreted smoothly and tactfully, with the obvious but scant discrepancies.

"King Arthur" will not be remembered as a classic due to it's directorial ineffiency, but the narrative, which embodied camaraderie rather than patriotism, and the adept competent display on the part of the actors, ensured the movie held its own intrigue, even if it lacked the penetration and effectiveness of an Excalibur coup de grace. - Abhishek Dey

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