February 6, 2005
MarkBernstein.org
 
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King Arthur

I had been looking forward to King Arthur.

It's an interesting idea. For more than a century, we've had a suspicion that, under all the myth and legend and medieval romance, there might lie a hint of a historical Arthur, standing just at the edge between the end of antiquity and the darkness. Antoine Fuqua tried to film a realistic 5th century brotherhood of horsemen who begin by defending an addled Rome from her enemies and who end, after many betrayals, defending freedom and the idea of Britain (against, among others, the invaliding English).

It could have worked. It should have worked. They even managed to give Guinevere a weapon, not to mention plausible battle armor. Good for them.

But the screenplay misses almost everything it should hit, and the film is cut for idiots who need to see everything, three times, in slow motion.

The one good moment is when Guinevere and Lancelot are in bed -- it's the first time, she's never looked at Arthur -- and suddenly there's a violent knock at the door. It's Gawain. And here it is: totally unexpected, completely unmistakable, we're about to have the real story of the moment that launches a national epic -- and the screenwriter drops the ball in the end zone. Nothing happens. Nothing.

I'm not even certain they knew what they had.