Saturday, July 09, 2005

King Arthur

I watched King Arthur, the director's cut, tonight. I don't have a whole lot to say. Again, I never saw the "PG-13" theatrical version, so I can't much in comparison. The story goes that it was shot to be an "R" rated movie and the studio chopped it down at the last minute, so I'm sure, if one bothers to watch this crap, this is the one to watch.

You can skip my whining, if you like, just watch Excalibur (along with Point Blank, the only great John Boorman movies) and forget this ever happened. For those still with me, let the whining begin.

The only thing actually good about this movie is Clive Owen, who truly deserves to be a huge movie star (I have a post to come where I babble and speculate about Sin City 2), and shows again how good he'd be in movie version of 300 (for the record, in The Big Fat Kill Dwight finds himself in the same position as the 300, hinting at Frank Miller's interest in the story).

Every single other element in the movie doesn't work. In fact, I was all prepared to go off on Ioan Gruffudd for being a bad Lancelot, which he was, but then I noticed that Stellan Skarsgård was equally maddening as the stoned Viking Godfather. It's just a poorly written, poorly directed mess. Really, I will criticize the regular casting of the absolutely charisma-free Keira Knightley, though. What the hell are people thinking? She's really pretty, but not pretty enough to make up for her lifeless acting and complete lack of chemistry with anyone, in this case in a movie where she should have chemistry with two people.

It tries, at least in this cut of the film, to have that kind of Braveheart battle sequences - and really, it makes Braveheart look like a model of subtlety and character dimension - but it misses the important element. It's not the blood flying and limbs falling that gives those battle scenes their gravity, it's the fact that Mel Gibson recognized that it takes work to hack through armor and flesh and bone and more flesh and more bone.

Ultimately it flails around, hoping to catch something, but never really manages to have a story, in much the same way it never has a time period. The music, the costumes, the texture never really feels like it takes place in 432 AD... nor does it feel like 1432... or anywhere in between... Sure, it makes all stops along the way, but never settles down.

I did notice one interesting thing. The Romans and the Saxons were both shown speaking English, and their respective conquerings of the British Isles have led to the basis of the English language itself. The natives are shown speaking one form or another of Gaelic - an accurate one? I don't know - which is native to the island, but is barely found in the English language. Did they purposely plant that for me to think on? I doubt it. And if the Romans, and those in service of Rome, were presumably supposed to be speaking Latin that we just heard as English, what was the monk who we heard as speaking Latin supposed to be speaking?

And, by the way, I saw Merlin on Broadway the other day. He was just as drunk and babbling that same crap about "Today we're all one, just as you are now one..." or whatever. I thought about giving him a quarter, but I needed to do some laundry.

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