Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of the legend of King Arthur must be one of 2017’s most eagerly anticipated movies. Just like Ritchie’s reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes (2009), some folks are going to love his King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) while others will lament its deviation from the established Arthurian milieu. Quite what anyone expecting an epic of clashing steel, wizardry and lusty wenches is going to make of Jared Cohn’s micro budget knockoff King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (2017) is a whole different pile of rusting armour.
The action opens, deep within the caves under Camelot where economic set dressing amounts to a few randomly placed candelabra, as a very cockney King Arthur (Byron Gibson), Merlin (Harold Diamond) and a few knights are locked in the final battle with his sister Morgana (Sara Malakul Lane) and their son Morded (Russell Geoffrey Banks). Fortunately Merlin has a trick up the sleeve of his Friar Tuck outfit and Morgana and Mordred end up being imprisoned in a lump of rock that is blasted off into outer space (I must have missed that bit in my reading of Malory) so England can sleep secure in the knowledge that good has triumphed over evil.
Fast forward 1500 years and we find the present day descendants of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, Sir Galahad and Sir Tristran in Bangkok, knocking the hell out of each other in a modern day martial arts tournament. Little do modern day Arthur and Guinevere Penn (Eoin O’Brien) and Jenna (Kelly B Jones) realise that the shooting star they wish on that night is really Morgana and Mordred’s spaceship returning to Earth for the dastardly pair to exact their terrible revenge. Pausing only to mug a pair of passing Goths for their inconspicuous Earth clothes, Morgana and Mordred set about creating their own zombie army to take the knights down and reclaim Excalibur, which is presently manifested as the Holy Grail and locked away in a massage parlour safe.
To be fair it’s a competently enough made film with some nice camera work and director Jared Cohn’s action sequences are fairly well choreographed, but the plot, like those of most Asylum pictures, is completely bonkers and even includes a giant fire breathing robot. The CGI effects aren’t bad for the bargain basement budget but, lets face it, none of the cast will ever win that best actor Academy Award. Lane is quite nicely sinister as Morgana, and O’Brien, and Jones are adequate, whereas most of the rest of the cast just about get by. I did like Russell Geoffrey Banks as Mordred. He seemed to coast through the movie with his laid back performance modelled on that of Richard O’Brien’s Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), but then he is blessed with such gloriously daft lines as ‘Then you are already dead, don’t say I didn’t warn you’. In fact he offered welcome respite from the excruciatingly exaggerated macho performances of the rest of the cast and their equally cringe worthy dialogue.
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table certainly isn’t Excalibur (1981). It isn’t even Prince Valiant (1954) for that matter but it does borrow heavily from Superman II (1980), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Terminator (1984), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-95), He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-85) King Kong (1933) and Godzilla (1954), amongst others. It’s not a completely bad movie and is often quite unintentionally funny, but I don’t see it troubling Guy Ritchie’s movie at the box office.
Two stars out of five.