Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: A Sword in the Stone or a Dagger in Our Hearts?

A new trailer for Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (coming May this year) has been released giving us a further glimpse at the director’s iconoclastic take on the Arthurian legend.

The trailer is certainly not without an epic sense of scale and the action, fantasy flavour, special effects and stirring, folk-rock musical accompaniment – Led Zeppelin’s Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – all make for pretty enthralling viewing (and listening). I must admit that the movie hasn’t been on my radar to the same extent as some of 2017’s other upcoming blockbusters but, at a viewing of Hacksaw Ridge the other night, I saw King Arthur’s trailer and my interest was certainly piqued. In fact it’s more than that. I’m now cautiously optimistic… Actually I’d quite liketo be excited; and in many ways I am.

Ritchie’s movies have always had mixed fortunes amongst critics and at the box office. Alongside well received and – let’s be absolutely honest – achingly cool and funny hits like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch, sit absolute stinkers like Swept Away, fair-to-middling’ers like RocknRolla (still waiting for that sequel Guy!?) and Revolver (I actually love both those films but critically…meh,) box office disappointments like Man from U.N.C.L.E and pretty successful Sherlock Holmes adaptations. I don’t think Ritchie has anything to prove per se – Lock Stock and Snatch have taken care of that – but I do think there might be a few people who will be unconvinced that he has credentials sufficient to tackle this latest project. I personally think his fresh, funny and action packed (almost steampunk) take on Sherlock Holmes means that he has shown he is capable of adapting period, fictional but real world set, big budget adventures with a creative and deft approach.

A quick perusal of the comments section below the Youtube trailer(s) reveal the expected range of opinions. Some long-time Ritchie fans defending and approving of all his directorial decisions so far (silly billys) and some saying that all his films are trash (very silly billys) and the wonderful tapestry of well thought out and argued opinions to trolly, ragey, spoil-the-funs in between. I’ve always maintained that, until you see the finished article, you can’t say definitively whether a movie will be good or bad. You might know that it won’t be to your taste; but bringing in black and white, quality ‘absolutes’ is putting the cart before the horse. In fact I think you risk stacking the deck against a film (or, of course, hyping it to the point of unachievable awesomeness) and go in expecting it to disappoint. A self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one. But this is something that, lamentably, I notice more and more in movie watchers.

So I’ll maintain my optimism until proven otherwise. I must confess though I didn’t enjoy this most recent trailer as much as the Comicon one from 6 months ago; the one I saw before Hacksaw Ridge. For 3 reasons really:
1) I don’t think Led Zeppelin’s song is as effective as the adaptation of Sam Lee’s Wild, Wild Berry from the Comicon trailer. To its credit it’s obvious folksy roots are well suited to the medieval setting, it is a stirring piece of music and…you know….it’s the “Zepp.” Who are awesome. So bonus points for that! I think it might just be a bit too up tempo and modern sounding. It just seems to contradict any sense of foreboding – of battle and bloodshed to come – that the trailer might wish to emphasise. It’s all just a little bit too Tenacious D. But there is something more combatitive, rhythmic and primal, more haunting, dark and brooding about Wild, Wild Berry that completely enhances the tone of the previous trailer. It also gives an overall impression that this is a proper swords and sorcery fantasy action film; this is a dirty, dangerous world and war is indeed coming (the clanking, dragging chain sounds are a particularly nice touch.)

2) The new trailer seems to have deliberately avoided anything that points directly to Guy Ritchie as director. Gone are the quick moving, shotgun cutaways, the slow motion, pause and rewind, the cockney humour, sideways glances and “hold on a minute” moments. These are the very things that made Lock, Stock and Snatch so uniquely cool and could still be seen right up to his Sherlock adaptations, but are sorely missing from this new trailer. Say what you like about Ritchie, I’m not sure his unique approach to cinematography has ever been the subject of too much criticism. He has style. You don’t bring someone like him in without knowing he’ll want to inject that style. To leave it out of the trailer seems a strange move.

3) Despite being shorter, I think this new trailer continues the frustrating trend of showing too much. Certainly a heck of a lot more than the Comicon trailer.

 

For those who haven’t seen the Comicon trailer here it is:

Maybe you agree with me on the trailers, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re not excited about this movie at all, maybe you are such a huge Guy Ritchie fan you can barely wait. Why not let us all know in the comments below. I’d love to get some thoughts!
P.S. What’s the craic with Charlie Hunnam. He’s English. Why are his English accents so garbled? He makes a more convincing American. Green Street.

Stephen Harris

Maker/gamer/geek/dad/husband.

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