Film review – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

YOU’RE ONLY SUPPOSED TO PULL THE BLAHDY SWORD OUT! Here’s my fackin’ Sunday Indo review, innit…

***

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Cert: 12A

THE Sherlock Holmes films saved Guy Ritchie by stabilising his stock in Hollywood once again. If he could reinvent a brand as ubiquitous as the Victorian super-sleuth, studio bosses probably reasoned, Ritchie could probably give the Camelot legends a millennial boot up the behind too. Right?

Ritchie’s cheeky-cockney-chappy shtick still manages to find a way into this kitchen-sink makeover of the Arthurian legends. The emergent Knights of the Round Table in this origins story have less to do with codes of chivalry and more to do with metropolitan hipster cool, as if a bunch of Camden baristas have been let loose at a battle re-enactment. Centre-stage, we get a very Conor McGregor-esque Charlie Hunnam (as Arthur himself) and Jude Law’s baddie, both far too groomed and modern to be at all convincing.

So intent is Ritchie on scrawling all over the mythology that he even has to crowbar ancient “Londinium” into the yarn despite it having little to do with the lore. Throw in an F-word and a David Beckham cameo and King Arthur… feels neither one thing nor the other.

Arthur, a wily orphan, leads his own crew in the mean streets of London. That is until he surprises everyone, including himself, by pulling the sword from the stone. He now has to join in the fight against the uncle who orphaned him (Law) by embracing his lineage and harnessing his powers.

Enjoy the CGI, but don’t expect to give it another thought.

2/5

First published in the Sunday Independent

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Review – Alien: Covenant

Not an outright disaster for a franchise that has been much maligned since Alien 3, but still frustrating. Here’s the Sunday Indo review…

***

Alien: Covenant
Cert: 16

THE mechanical shark in Jaws was so shoddy that Spielberg left it out wherever he could. Less very much proved to be more, with the unseen, implied threat freezing viewers’ blood that summer in 1975. Alien, Ridley Scott’s space-slasher classic, did a similar trick three years later by minimising the screentime of the man in the monster suit.

These days, it’s cheaper to just CGI in the horror rather than pay costume designers and make-up artists, so the imagination takes a back seat. This return to the spirit of Scott’s original thus can’t compare to the abject terror that audiences – and uninformed fellow cast members – felt in 1979 when the late John Hurt suffered one of science-fiction’s nastiest stomach cramps.

With Alien: Covenant, Scott looks to make amends for the bloated, muddled anti-climax that was Prometheus and get these much-discussed prequels back on track. In this, he largely succeeds. Elsewhere – character development, suspense, the element of surprise – less so.

The old “a ship, a crew, a signal” recipe is used for the umpteenth time. En route to start a colony on a distant planet, Billy Crudup’s proxy captain diverts to investigate a signal from a much closer and seemingly ideal planet. His deputy (Katherine Waterston) thinks it’s too good to be true, and, lo and behold, she’s right. Obligatory ship’s android Walter (a show-stealing Michael Fassbender) and the others ignore her and naturally pay for it.

A strong first half that reaches an appropriate level of crawling menace and presents a couple of impressive scenarios eventually succumbs to what is ultimately a safe and by-numbers bow at the Alien alter that takes the more-is-more attitude to the monster.

Oh well. Still, beats Prometheus.

3/5

First published in the Sunday Independent