Movie: King Arthur (spoilers)

My girlfriend and I went to this last night. To give you my perspective, I’ll go to most movies that involve swords and scantily clad women. I like fantasy. I’m not a big Arthurian buff though. My memories of the legends are basically Arthur is a hero, Lancelot is an ass kicker, Guinevere messes around with Lancelot, and Galahad is pure. Oh yeah, the table is round and Arthur swings Excaliber. I mention this just to say that I wouldn’t normally get real upset (or notice) liberties that they take with the story.

Clive Owen as Arthur worked pretty well for me. He definitely isn’t a pretty boy, which I thought was a good thing. He seemed to capture some dignity without being a pompous ass. The rest of the knights were kind of a mixed bag. Overall, I guess they were fine, but think of the heroes in 13th Warrior more than “knights in shining armor.” I really wasn’t into the casting choice for Lancelot. First we have Richard Gere as Lancelot and now this guy (Ioan Gruffudd). Sorry, but I always picture Lancelot as a big guy. Kiera Knightley is pretty fine eye candy, but her character seemed to change way too quickly in the movie.

[spoilers follow]

The movie had me pretty well for the first 1/2 to 3/4’s. I would compare this first portion to 13th Warrior, which I liked. The end really seemed thrown together and sort of dragged. About the time that the Saxons arrived at the wall and the Romans left was when it went south for me.

Back to Guinevere, she went from half starved prisoner with a busted hand to smoking hotty to kick ass archer chick in less than a day of movie time. When did she find time to bathe? (or heal?) In the next day she goes from smoking hotty again to a Celtic woad raider. When did she find time to change outfits and put on the makeup?

Lancelot getting killed by the Saxon chief’s son was just wrong. I don’t mind Tristan being killed by the chief, but Lancelot by the chief’s son? This is the same chief’s son that Guinevere held her own with for about 5 minutes of movie time. So much for Lancelot being a matchless warrior. I did like the way they used Merlin though.

To me this is one of those movies that could have been good fantasy (and was even on the way), but they just missed with the ending. I guess if you are into 4th century fantasy, it was still an ok summer popcorn munching movie. It’s no where close to “must see” though.

I had to review this one since it is a Disney movie.

It was a difficult review to write because I’m pretty squarely in the middle of this one. There is nothing particularly good about it, and there is nothing particularly bad.

Throughout, it skirts the line of boredom but never quite crosses over the line. The dialogue is bad, but it usually is in movies like this. Clive Owen doesn’t come off very well, but I can’t decide if that is his fault or Fuqua/Franzoni’s

The ice battle was pretty well done, but the final battle was just average, and the opening fight was bad. That bow shot at the end to kill the traitor was just stupid.

But in the end, all I really wanted to know when it was over was who was opening and closing that damn gate? (And also: does putting a shark hat on your horse make it look cool, or just stupid?)

I kind of want to see this movie, EXPECTING it to suck, just to see HOW MUCH it sucks. It’s got Horation Hornblower in it - I love to pronounce his name phonetically because seriously, if somebody wrote a fanfic with a character named “Ioan Gruffudd, it’s pronounced Owen Griffith” that’s almost as bad as a Maiyrie Sioux. Anyway…

Jerry Bruckheimer loves his explosions. How exactly does he JUSTIFY those explosions in a movie set at a time when the technology available included NOTHING that COULD explode?

The preview scenes of Guinevere in combat make it look like they are trying to turn the Arthurian legend into Xena, Warrior Princess. Please tell me I am wrong about that, because that aspect is really bugging me.

I have no problem with the film being set in a time much earlier than traditional Arthurian films, since if there actually were an historical Arthur that’s when he would have lived. I kind of like the idea of a film speculating on what a real Arthur and his times might have been like.

If it didn’t cross the line into boredom for me, it got as close as possible near the end. Clive worked for me because I thought he was sort of beefcakey without being a pretty boy. In other words, he seemed like a manly man. I mentioned something about that to my girlfriend. Her reply was that she thought he looked like Bill Murray. :smack:

I pretty much agree with all of that. I thought the ice battle was going to turn out cheesy, but it was actually pretty decent. The final battle was the part that I thought got close to boring. I agree, that bowshot was completely unnecessary.

That (the gate) is a very good question. We were wondering the same thing. The shark hat on the horse was stupid, no question there. The rest of the barding on the horses was pretty cool though.

One more thing… why the rousing, shouted speech at the end… to five guys? The delivery wasn’t terrible although I expected him to seque into “but it is not this day.” It was just so out of place with only his closest friends there to hear. Hell. Have him give a speech to Merlin’s woad raiders or something.

I heard they left out the love triangle entirely? What the hell?

Personally, I’d like to see an Arthurian movie done from the fantasy angle, maybe sort of like Lord of the Rings.

What the hell is up with Guinevere being a warrior? I mean yeah, you don’t have to make her a mousy little priss, but she can be kicking ass without being a soldier.

(And I always picture Guinevere as being a blonde.)

They should have left out the love story altogether. That sex scene could not possibly have been any more out of place or forced.

If you haven’t already, definitely see Excalibur. It has all of the knights in shining armour, wizardry, love, sex and betrayal of the legend all served up with a healthy dose Jungian subtext. I think it’s the best version of the King Arthur legend yet to make to celluloid. Certainly better than anything Antoine Fuqua or Jerry Bruckheimer are capable of making.

Q: Does the movie make claims that this IS the true story or that it’s based on new speculations? (Because the previews said that this was supposed to be the true story. Which is laughable.)

Well, the first thing you see in the movie after the title, is a titlecard that says “historians have agreed that there is one man who inspired the tale of King Arthur” or something similar. And that did make me laugh.

Actually I laughed during several parts of the movie, from how predictable many parts were, and also the Roman accents that struck me as particularly funny, though they might have been completely accurate for all I know. But I enjoyed it. Clive Owen was quite good (and hot), Keira Knightley did pretty well, though Guinevere’s character did jump all around the map like RogueRacer said, and Ray Winstone was good and funny. Stellan Skarsgård was also good, though it was bizarre to see him in Grizzly Adams getup.

Well, I dunno how it could with a straight face, but several of the people involved, during their media blitzes, have been spouting about that.

Of course, going for “the true story” could have meant ditching Guinivere altogether (since she and Lancelot are medieval addenda apparently grafted on from some other storyline set in the general geographic/temporal vicinity). The whole idea of casting her as some sort of Hot Pictish Amazon has the reek of pandering.

Speaking of the setting: even placing it in the V Century (right), they got it slightly off – the Roman garrison was pulled from Brittannia to Gaul in 410, the Saxon invasion is in the second half of that century. Arthur and his knights would not have been people sent by Rome, but members of a native overclass of Romanized Britons and descendants of resettled Romans, who took up the reins of power in the new order. Ambrose Aurelian, who did rally the Britons against the Saxons, was one such. Interestingly, the History Channel did a tie-in show a few weeks back in which they point out there may be no ONE “Arthur” – or that if there was, much of his legend could be a graftting onto his bio of the tales of multiple other people who served as dux bellorum in the Roman and immediate post-Roman periods in Britain and Brittany.

I saw this movie with a couple of good friends who are also both history buffs last night. It was a good movie (then again, the last such movie one of them talked me into seeing was Troy :eek:), but there are a few things which bother me.

[spoiler]Who was the blonde, curly-haired little boy who they freed at the same time they freed Guinevere? I assumed he was the son of somebody significant, but I wasn’t sure.

What the hell was with the climate?!! Even if lochs may freeze over firmly enough to support an army, there’s no way it would have been spring at Hadrian’s Wall in the time it took Arthur and his men to get back there.

Who was the Roman working for the Saxons?[/spoiler]

Basically, I liked it. OK, some of it was overblown and overdramatic, and there was some ridiculously accurate shooting going on. Still, it plays on my favorite themes of honor, freedom, and doing what is right, even when it stinks to high heaven. I didn’t mind the omission of the love-triangle between Arthur, Guinever, and Lancelot, especially since this thread and the review I read in the local paper warned me it was coming. I’d forgotten about Lancelot’s death, though, and it shook me. Then again, I don’t like love-triangles in general. It was an interesting retelling of the legend, including the way Arthur came by Excalibur.

One warning. The Christian Church does not come off well in this movie. There was one scene where I was outright ashamed of my faith, although there were circumstances which would account for the characters’ behaviour. That said, Christian faith does all right.

For a Saturday night lark with friends, it’s a good, fun, movie. On the other hand, since I watched The Last Samurai with one of these guys Thursday night, and now King Arthur with both of them, I swear the next movie I watch will not have huge set-piece battle scenes with the sky black with arrows! So speaks the woman in the trio! :wink:


Lancelot was, yes, but Guinevere predates the medieval French romances. She is around in the earliest Welsh and Cornish legends about Arthur, actually, under the Welsh name Gwynhwyfaer IIRC.

Oh, I was so disappointed by this movie! It seemed so awfully talky – Roman, Britain, Christian, pagan, Woads (?), Sarmatia(?), yadda, yadda, yadda – whose side are we meant to be on? Arthur is a good man whose men are loyal to him, he identifies himself as a Roman and a Christian until he realizes the Romans and Christians he works for are treacherous, violent b*stards, he feels terrible that he can’t release his men when he said he would, and he wants to do the right thing by Guinevere and her people.

Okay, but then what? We have Celtic Xena fighting in her sexy little leather halter top while all the men are wearing heavy armor, we have an initial fascination and bantering between Arthur and Guinevere which is then abandoned, we have two fight scenes where about eight people fight off dozens or hundreds (and still Arthur kicks himself when three of them die), we have that alarming sex scene where poor exhausted Arthur is enjoying a much-deserved nap and sultry, sulky Guinevere throws herself at him inexplicably* (I was wondering whether she were afraid he’d get killed in the battle the next day and wanted to be sure to get pregnant by him), and we’re still not sure where the story is going. I need some signposts here: establish the characters, establish the premise (we need to get from A to B before C happens), I need to be told enough about who the “good guys” and “bad buys” are and why, what needs to be accomplished before they have a chance of winning the battle. We need to identify with one group over another. How many foot soldiers are available to help Arthur and his men and how does he motivate them? I need to know who “Merlin” is! Is he magical? Is he an accepted authority figure? Is he a traitor? Is he just crazy?

Guinevere was way too modern-day attractive for this setting. She’s undeniably lovely, but she’s too slim and delicate, teeth too white and perfect, too prepared in any situation. She looks like she fell off of a magazine cover. I don’t need to see hairy legs and bad teeth, but let’s pretend we’re actually in the fifth century, for goodness’ sake! Anna Friel’s French princess in Timeline was a babe as well, and yet much more realistic (she’s just cleaner than everyone else).

Other relatively recent movies such as Gladiator and Return of the King have done excellent jobs of establishing large battle scenes in which the viewers can follow the action easily and see what it would take to prevail in a fight with swords, spears, bows and arrows (flaming or not), and catapults and trebuchets. If you’re gonna make a movie about a historical period, then take me there and show me what it looked like.

*I have a theory that this is a relatively new male fantasy phenomenon in the movies, akin to mostly male writers, producers, and directors showing the woman’s reactions during a sex scene: having the woman offer herself to the man, especially if she is a strong female character and might be intimidating. I saw it twice a week ago in Spider-Man 2, with both the landlord’s daughter and Mary Jane showing up at Peter’s door.

I think the journey took a few days. And she was bathed in the trailer, Lancelot was spying on her, sorta.

I didn’t go in with any expectations. It does get closer to the reality of Arthur than the legends do and I thought it was a fun movie. I knew I could double check Cretien de Troyes, Mallory, or Geoffrey of Monmouth, but what’s the point? Enjoy the movie for what it is and don’t expect it to match the legends or the reality. Plus Kiera Knightly…mmmmmmm

Not the earliest, far as I can tell ( a similar question in GQ prompted me to pike around ). She isn’t mentioned in the poem Y Goddodin ( propably the earliest, and very brief, mention of Arthur ), nor by Nennius. The earliest mention of her seems to have been in Culhwch ac Owen, which most scholars put at ~1100 A.D., just a half century before Geoffrey of Monmouth.

So she predates the French romances of Chretien et al., but not by very much and she still might be an entirely medieval invention.

  • Tamerlane

The French romances were centuries after Geoffrey’s work and he at least seems to have used actual Welsh legends and myth in his writings rather than inventing things out of whole cloth…he simply conflated EVERYTHING that anyone ever living in Britain had done and had Arthur do them all.
And while Culwch and Olwen was probably written down in the 1100s, it is thought to be (at least the last time I read up on the subject) based on an oral tradition at least 300 years older.

At least Chretien de Troyes died thirty-something years after Geoffrey.

I was speaking more of Mallory and all that came after him.

Actually, Siege:

I don’t think Lancelot is supposed to die. He becomes a monk, I believe. It’s his son, Galahad that dies, in his quest for the Holy Grail.