Don't let the trailer, or the Web site, or the reviews, or the names of the characters,
or the opening on-screen text, or the narration, or the title fool you: King
is not about King Arthur. Well, not that
King Arthur -- you
know, Le Morte D'.
It is about a guy nicknamed Arthur who has a sword he calls Excalibur, and
he has some friends from Russia who are named after the knights of the Round
Table, and a really hot young Scottish girlfriend named Guinevere whose dad
calls himself Merlin, so everybody has this Arthurian naming thing going on.
And there's a really forced scene where for some reason they call him
a king. But that's about it.
I know, it's ridiculous to geek out about historical inaccuracies in a Hollywood
movie, especially when you go into the movie knowing Jerry "That Blew Up
Real Good" Bruckheimer is a producer and you paid cash for a ticket anyway.
But this movie spends an awful lot of time telling you that it's about King
Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, only it's the real story,
like you can see on the History Channel but with better-looking actors.
But it's not. It's a rehash of Braveheart and The Magnificent Seven
(OK, The Seven Samurai for you movie geeks; I know it came first),
with -- well, with nothing, really. It's like Braveheart meets The
Magnificent Seven. And for some reason the characters have names like Tristram
The sooner you can accept that and put all the Arthur stuff out of your head,
the more fun you'll have with King Arthur. Because the stuff that makes
the King Arthur legends great -- the magic, the prophecy, the tragedy, the betrayal,
the Holy Grail, the "my wife and my best friend did WHAT for 20 years?"
pathos, the Knights Who Say NIH! -- all that stuff is missing in the action.
What's left is a fairly good action flick with sorta good swordfight scenes,
more-or-less OK attention to historical detail, and pretty good acting for the
most part. The fight scenes don't have the raw, visceral excitement of Braveheart
or The Fellowship of the Ring, but Keira Knightley (dig that last
name) seems to relish being in the thick of things as Guinevere, half-naked
warrior princess. The historical stuff takes huge liberties such as calling
the Picts the Woads, naming them after their blue body paint (the History Channel
would be so ashamed); but the Roman politics are interesting and you get a strong
sense of the breadth of the Roman Empire in the distant lands the characters
all think of as home. And there aren't going to be any Oscars handed out for
acting or writing here, but most of the characters are three-dimensional and
all seem to have their own priorities, attitudes, and goals. The writers obviously
had fun with Bors, the Funny Fat Knight With Lots of Kids and a Saucy Redheaded
So is it worth seeing? Well, Arthurian it ain't. If you're dead set on a King
Arthur story, watch Excalibur or Camelot or Monty Python and
the Holy Grail instead. If you're set on a historical treatment of the Arthur
legend, there are plenty on basic cable. But it's got lots of popcorn-crunching,
sword-swinging, blue-painted, Braveheart-inspired medieval action, and
sometime that's good enough. On those terms, King Arthur is lightheaded