Once upon a time, ancient Londinium was ruled by King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana). Uther ruled with his wife, Igraine (Poppy Delevigne), by his side, his brother Vortigern (Jude Law) giving him much good advice, and all in preparation for the day his son Arthur (Zac Barker) would eventually take the throne. It came to pass that the evil sorcerer Modred (Rob Knighton) would attack Uther’s kingdom with 100 foot tall elephants, because that is how sorcerers operate, apparently, and would force Uther to flee with his family, and Vortigern to take his beautiful wife whom we shall just call Mrs. Vortigern downstairs where he would stab her most mercilessly. Shortly after the stabbing, Uther’s family would run into a boss monster from a video game which would slaughter Igraine and have an epic fight with Uther that ends with Uther throwing his sword into the air, turning into stone, and the sword falling and burying itself in what was moments before Uther’s back. During the battle Arthur climbed into a boat, which as we know, makes you completely and totally safe from boss monsters.
Arthur’s boat apparently made its way to Rome eventually, as, even though everyone there speaks with an Irish accent, we see a shot of the Colosseum. Arthur is taken into a brothel where he is raised by the women there into a very strong and pretty bro douchebag. One day, when the bro douchebag Arthur (now Charlie Hunnam) is telling, via quick editing and snazzy sound effects, of his exploits in which he stole the money from and cut the beard off a viking he met at the docks – but the viking did something wrong so it was all justified – the brothel is raided and the captain of the guard who raids the brothel tells Arthur he can’t protect him this time, even though we have no idea why Arthur would have been protected before, because the viking Arthur attacked knows the king. Well damn.
Arthur is therefore put on a ship to Camelot where he is to meet his punishment, which is apparently that he has to try to pull a sword from a stone, get branded on his wrist if he fails, then be sent on his way. Arthur marches up to the sword in the stone, and the second he touches it he has intense pain and harrowing visions, which you think would be enough for him to walk away, get his brand, and call it a day. But, no, the douchebag who would be king pulls and pulls on the sword and finally extracts it from the rocky sheath which once was his father just as he falls unconscious from the intense pain and visions.
When he wakes, Arthur is in a prison cell and is soon visited by King Vortigern, plot twist!, and told through quick editing and snazzy sound effects that Vortigern was working with Modred to take the kingdom, but he needed to get the sword out of the stone and kill Arthur to make it official. Oops! Looks like our douchebag is in a whole heap of trouble! But, just as his execution is to take place, people we’ve never seen before including a girl mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) who can control animals rescue our future monarch. Once the excitement dies down, we learn that this band are Percival (Craig McGinlay), the girl mage who was sent by Merlin, Bill (Aldan Gillen), and Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), who, while I have no problem with diversity in casting, is a black man in England with no real explanation much like why everyone in Rome speaks in baroque. Why did they rescue him? Because the plot calls for it, silly! Otherwise Arthur would die and the movie would be nowhere near two hours long!
This kind of crap continues, I won’t spoil anything more, and believe it or not this is barely more than the set up, but this level of intelligence and understanding of the original Arthurian myths continues throughout the entire film’s length bring up such questions as:
Why is Sir George in a movie about King Arthur’s origins and why is he Chinese?
If the lady mage is Morgana why isn’t she Arthur’s sister and if she’s Guinevere why is she a mage, and why don’t we know who the hell she is in the first place?
Why does the king feel the need to stand so near his body double as well as taking along his advisors if he is just setting a trap for the good guys?
If you could summon a giant rattlesnake to kill everyone in seconds, why the hell didn’t you do it earlier and save everyone a lot of trouble and effort, not to mention lives?
If the sword, which is obviously Excalibur but never called such, gives you superpowers like the Flash, why the heck was the video game boss able to defeat Uther? And, how the heck did Uther turn into stone, anyway?
Why the hell is Vortigern building the tower to make his powers unbeatable when he doesn’t seem to have any powers which aren’t given to him by outside sources in the first place?
Final verdict: If Joby Harold (writer) and Guy Ritchie (director/writer) know anything about the legends surrounding King Arthur aside from a handful of characters’ names, they certainly don’t show it in this abomination of a movie. While I have no problem with taking liberties with source material, and in the case of Arthurian myths actually believe it to be necessary, this handling of it is so poorly done in every conceivable way from the plot, to the dialogue, to the acting, to the special effects, and the camerawork, that it accomplishes nothing but offend those who care at all for the original stories. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a senseless, ugly, unthinking, scattershot attempt at storytelling which will hopefully be seen by no one so that the sequel they seem to want so badly given the number of loose plot strings in the film never gets made.