An origin tale that was hoping to spark many further sequel and spinoffs turns out to be an utterly boring disappointment that hardly makes sense. Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is caught up in a memory of his father Uther (Eric Bana) dying as he dreams about it every night. The movie constantly flashes back to this moment about ten times too many showing the same thing over and over, possibly with a little detail added to show that Arthur is coming to terms with his father's death. Arthur had to escape as a young boy because his father was the king but was betrayed by his brother Vortigern (Jude Law). I'm not sure how closely this is following the actual legend of King Arthur but there were some tall elephants that smashed stuff. This opening battle sequence is the only battle sequence in the whole film and possibly the best part.
Arthur quickly grows up in a brothel in a rapid montage scene. I wish more of the movie went this fast because any time they stop and talk, the film becomes so boring that I would take off my 3D glasses and try to catch a quick nap. Arthur has a group of friends that viewers are supposed to like but I didn't really care especially as later the death of one is supposed to be the emotional climax that leads Arthur to pick up the sword. It is never clear why Arthur doesn't want the immense power of the sword in the stone but he spends a major portion of this second act fainting every time he touches it.
Once it is revealed that Arthur is the king, Vortigern wants to kill him publicly but a mage (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) uses her animal mind control power to free him and bring him back to Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou). It's sad that Hollywood has never given Hounsou a chance to lead his own film but always cast him as the wise black man to assist on a white man's journey, the case in this film as well. The movie seems to be a great excuse to find further roles for Game of Thrones cast members who have either been killed off or haven't had as much screen time in the past season including Aidan Gillen and Michael McElhatton.
Hunnam as Arthur goes through the typical hero's journey but tries to bring sarcasm and humor to the role, most of the jokes fall flat. He stages a rebellion against Vortigern through several sequences of explaining a plan as viewers witnesses that plan playing out, this happens repeatedly. I've read that they went back for reshoots and the entire film is so heavily edited, it looks like they just pieced together whatever footage they had with flashbacks leading to more flashbacks. They do this for every scene as it might be clever for one scene or two but becomes repetitive and boring.
I've enjoyed some of Guy Ritchie's films before, mostly the gangster ones and I think that was because I was young when they came out. He won't suffer from this critical and commercial flop as he has a possible third Sherlock Holmes film and an Aladdin film in the works, but this was a poor example of his filmmaking. I think Arthur will not live to see another film and no one should try to revitalize the property for some time. It would be best if they stuck with the legend and didn't bother with an origin story or actual story either. I am confused about the legend and why people keep going back to it so maybe I'll go educated myself and forget this movie forever.