King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword2017

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (2017)



Critic Consensus: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword piles mounds of modern action flash on an age-old tale -- and wipes out much of what made it a classic story in the first place.

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Movie Info

Acclaimed filmmaker Guy Ritchie brings his dynamic style to the epic fantasy action adventure "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword." Starring Charlie Hunnam in the title role, the film is an iconoclastic take on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur's journey from the streets to the throne. When the child Arthur's father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur's uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy...whether he likes it or not.

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Charlie Hunnam
as King Arthur
Djimon Hounsou
as Sir Bedivere
Aidan Gillen
as Goosefat Bill
Jude Law
as Vortigern
Eric Bana
as Uther Pendragon
Annabelle Wallis
as Maid Maggie
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Critic Reviews for King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

All Critics (277) | Top Critics (73)

Ritchie is retelling an iconic piece of British literature in his own dizzyingly charged-up style, using all that excess energy to shake the source material off its foundations.

November 3, 2021 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

If you can bear the bad patches, there's something dazzlingly fun at the heart of it all.

December 8, 2017 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Ritchie has reached into the medieval quiver of tales for material, but has not imposed the meta-narrative of Western history onto those stories. For this restraint medievalists should be thankful, and the critics should be a little more forgiving.

August 15, 2017 | Full Review…

More swords, more stones, and more roundtables, please. Just not directed by Guy Ritchie.

August 10, 2017 | Full Review…

That's one thing that Ritchie's Legend in the Sword shared with Excalibur-a vague idea that Britain is destined for transformation. In Legend of the Sword, unfortunately, that transformation is little more than a teaser.

June 16, 2017 | Full Review…

A murky video game aesthetic and impatient, maniacally fast cutting do it no favours.

May 21, 2017 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword


Let's be clear: this contains very few aspects of the actual Arthur legend. They probably should have just gone for a wacky original medieval fantasy film instead. That being said, I didn't expect Ritchie's style to work this well here. And he hasn't been this crazy since Snatch. Some montages are so breathless, fast and innovative as far as editing and soundtrack go, it's a pleasure. Sure, the plot follows the genre conventions more or less, and the finale is a bit heavy on CGI. On the other hand the assassination attempt sequence is fantastic and the portrayal of magic pretty cool. Hell, I had fun with this.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer


So here in old blighty we have this sprawling legend of one Arthur Pendragon, King Arthur, King of the Britons. The King who is said to have defended Britain against the Saxon hordes in, umm...a long long long time ago. Arthur was supposed to have beaten the Saxons and established an empire over Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Gaul. Along with Arthur other apparent legends have also been scooped up and added such as Merlin, the Sword in the Stone (a different item to Excalibur in some tales), the lady in the lake, the Holy Grail and various knights such as Lancelot. All of this and much more comes under what is known as Arthurian legend. In the opening battle sequence of this movie I was shocked, gob-smacked! Firstly the visuals are undoubtedly incredible, expected but even still, whoa! But wait what's this? Gigantic battle elephants that wouldn't look outta place in a [i]Lord of the Rings[/i] or [i]300[/i] movie?? Yep looks great but literally what the hell? Of course this is just the start of numerous gigantic animals we will see. Later on expect giant bats, snakes, rats, a large eagle and a whopping mega gigantic snake that actually eats people, oh yes. But the other rather silly thing that happens, Arthur's father Uther Pendragon is watching as his army is getting wiped out and Camelot is being destroyed. So he casually grabs his trusty sword Excalibur, gallops towards the giant battle elephants by horse taking out all enemies, leaps across a huge drop between Camelot's ramparts and the elephant (the horse presumably falling to it death) and hacks his way into the huge portable armoured mount on top of the elephant. There he casually takes everyone out including his arch nemesis Mordred and wins the day. All this kinda leaves you wondering why he didn't do this straight away, and why he even needs an army. Its also around this point you start to notice the casting, and I'm gonna have to bring this up. Turns out in this Guy Ritchie directed version of events Sir Bedivere is played by Djimon Hounsou. Not only that but Sir Tristan is also portrayed by a black actor (Kingsley Ben-Adir), and in the end we get a knight who is of an Oriental background (not sure where, I'm guessing China). The fact he's called George gives no clues but at least he seems to be created for the film. OK so let me be straight here, if Ritchie wanted to include diversity in this movie, that's fine with me. It would be perfectly acceptable to have included some new characters that came from other realms, such as Africa, the Middle East or the Far East. In fact it would probably be relatively historically accurate. But to race swap two of Arthur knights, two Englishmen of legend, is honesty unforgivable. As for the cast on the whole, its fine, nothing spectacular, but fine. Everyone speaks with a cockney accent which is completely bullshit but this is a Guy Ritchie movie after all. Apparently Ritchie thinks everyone in the UK has a cockney accent. There are a few scenes which are 100% pure Ritchie which was...awkward. You know what I mean, a group of fast talking cockneys with stupid names describing events which involve other folk with equally stupid names. Pretty sure no one was called Mike or Blue or 'Goosefat Bill'; mind you I'm also pretty sure no one used the word 'fuck' back then either. So its obvious that various elements of the Arthurian legend have been jettisoned or rejigged. This isn't too much of a problem though because the Arthurian legend has many versions, angles, viewpoints etc...But for example, the actual existence of King Vortigern is as equally questionable as Arthur himself. Castles didn't actually exist during Arthur's life, they didn't turn up for at least another 500 years. The same can also be said for armour. Characters such as Merlin and the knights of the round table are thought to be entirely fictional. The sword Excalibur is also thought to be entirely fictional. And alas all the giant creatures, watery squid witches, demon knights and supernatural/superhero abilities we see are of course all bullshit to make this movie more exciting. And that's the real problem here, this movie doesn't really feel like a historical film about King Arthur. It feels more like a superhero movie with Arthur being an X-Men type character with a supernatural weapon. Ritchie has taken a historical piece and revamped it into a videogame/comicbook-esque action movie for the youngsters. Just look at the final battle between Arthur and this [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] character in some dark alternate dimension. Literally the epitome of a modern day movie for youngsters. But that isn't a problem per say, revamping old things can be good and this movie does have good elements. But this whole venture feels so contrived and artificial, the fact they deliberately left out Merlin, most of the main knights and the round table (tacked onto the ending) for future sequels was all too obvious. So obvious in fact I think that one factor really hurt the movie because people are getting really sick and tired of these predictable cinematic universe setups. Apart from all that none of this makes a great deal of sense either. Why are there watery witches living in an underground rock pool in the bowels of the castle? What exactly are they supposed to be? Why do they need dead bodies? I presume they enabled King Vortigern to be able to turn into a demon knight? What was that alternate dimension? I thought it was simply a nightmare Arthur kept having, apparently not? So upon death Uther Pendragon turned himself into the stone that would hold the sword Excalibur...wut??? Or was that just another nightmare from Arthur's mind? Anyways, if you were expecting a film in the same spiritual fairytale-esque vein as John Boorman's cult classic, you might be disappointed. This movie feels more like a loud, in-your-face Robin Hood tale with some fantasy monsters and a roided up King Arthur (who wears very natty stylish clothes including a quarter length coat!). The visuals are admittedly lavish and beautiful and there are some nice touches. Unfortunately its also a typical Guy Ritchie affair mixed with silly videogame-like traits which overall makes it feel, tone wise, very muddled.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

This story is well known because it's over told. Woe betide the one who dares to update the thing! Yes, this is not your daddy's King Arthur, and thank goodness. Ritchie raises this bad boy up from the grave and instills the sucker with sweet life, and makes it a bad boy all over again. Jude Law is mad impressive. Charlie Hunnam makes relatable the whole "I-don't-wanna-be-king-but-watch-out-if-I-do" dynamic. Just as good of a film as it's forebears, The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "Excalibur" and worthy of that prestigious canon. Time will prove this one out.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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