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King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (Blu-ray Review)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.  The summer’s first flat out failure. Coming as no surprise as even its release date was one that usually spells doom and gloom (2nd week of summer, aside from 2009 Star Trek, never prevails for a tentpole). Plus, in the early going on, just nobody seemed to be interested in this one at all. Meant to be a franchise starter with the Knights of the Round Table, it looks like we won’t seeing Gallahad: Legend of the Chaste in theaters anytime soon. Its another big budget underperformer for Guy Ritchie and more proof that Charlie Hunnam is not a box office draw (Say what you will, and this has nothing to do with talent, the dollars speak for themselves). But, since nobody saw it in the theater and I’m sure many were at least curious, its here for home video and streaming consumption on August 8th.

Film 

When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown.  Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city.  But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.

Cinematic universe intentions aside, for the most part, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tells its own self contained story of Arthur’s rise to becoming the King that would eventually lead the Knights of the Round Table. However, unfortunately this film is also another tired trend; the boring old origin story. Make no mistake, this isn’t awful, its just that this story doesn’t feel anywhere near as interesting as a prologue could have served in being it for a regular old modern Arthur film.

The best part of the film is Guy Ritchie. He injects a lot of his signature style and pacing to the film and it makes the movie easily watchable where it could have been just a dull wannabe Batman Begins and have no character of its own.  Some of the way the characters bring about plot points and move along will remind you of Snatch/Lock Stock and others while the action sits with Sherlock Holmes and has a good touch of Zack Snyder in them (I’m saying that as a compliment). My only issue, maybe this is because it was a 2K upconvert for this 4K UHD, is that these effects look more like a big live action cartoon movie that I know its not trying to be.

Charlie Hunnam in this movie is okay. I still do not understand what is so special about this guy. I have liked movies he’s in, so don’t go calling me a big hater. He’s just not really engaging or someone I get excited over when his name goes around with casting. And this movie proves no different that he’s in a class of those “generic white male hero” types. Who I really feel sorry for is Annabelle Willis, who was in big summer tentpole franchise starters that bombed hard at the box office. She’s a fine presence and I hope this doesn’t stop her from getting the opportunity to be in other big films.

This new take on King Arthur, from director Guy Ritchie, I suppose is watchable but feels tired in terms of being another generic origin tale. The most interesting thing about the film is the flavor with which Guy Ritchie injects his own personal style into a genre that typically doesn’t carry it. Overall, this is yet another cinematic universe false start. Unlike many of the others, this is one nobody likely cared even before the film came out, if they’d get the chance to see it through.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  King Arthur: Legend of the Sword features a pretty solid looking image, even if it is a very dark and sorta bleached out of color look to it. Details are strong on clothing, armor, table surfaces, swords and whatnot. Its a sharp, crisp and full looking picture in terms of the boldness of the people and the strength of the solid nature of the objects/environments.

Depth:  Features a solid, three dimensional appearance, especially in some different early sequences. Movements are smooth and cinematic.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and saturated pretty well. Details aren’t really shy, but are minimally hidden. No crushing witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction:  As mentioned this is a sorta bleached out looking film, but colors can stand out in different times with some pretty good greens prominently throughout as well as bright magic and red bursts looking stronger than others.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are a little cold and maintain that look from start to finish on the film. Facial details like stubble, wrinkles, mole, scuffs, bruising, lip texture and such look quite good.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English Descriptive Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics:  Arthur’s legend begins here with a rock solid Atmos track that will rock the house with many of its really loud and booming sequences. The experience here with the score, effects and vocals are blend very well with good balance throughout. All are placed at perfect place and volumes during intense sequences or quieter environments. They get to take the spotlight while also allowing the other aspects at any given moment to nab it from them. Effects showcase some good lifelike instances with good depth and layering to them. The track also lends to good environments recreations with a nice sense of geography.

Height: Arrows zip past, smoke bombs hit the sky and any sorta action that passes through or overhead gets makes itself known while also upkeeping some solid ambiance.

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer fears no deep moments here in the track that really hits hard be it musical pounding, weapons penetrating a victim, bombs going off, creatures stomping or fire roaring.

Surround Sound Presentation:   Arthur features a well realized and playful experience with its speaker programming. The environments and action sequences are all fully thought out and quite accurate. Its also fun when stuff like loud door poudings come from one of the side speakers or arrows just fly all crazily around the room.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear throughout. I’ve seen where they may have been out of sync in the opening of the film, but I didn’t really notice too much.

Extras 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword comes with the DVD edition and an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Arthur with Swagger (HD, 9:41) – This is all about what is fresh with this King Arthur and what kind of presence Charlie Hunnam brings to the role.

Sword from the Stone (HD, 18:49) – Guy Ritchie talks of making a King Arthur movie for the modern movie going audience.

Parry and Bleed (HD, 5:44) – This featurette focuses on the sword-fighting in the film.

Building on the Past (HD, 14:00) – Here we focus on the costuming and set designing for the film.

Inside the Cut: The Action of King Arthur (HD 6:08) – Guy Ritchie and the stunt coordinators go over the action set pieces in the film.

Camelot in 93 Days (HD, 10:23) – This covers the trials and tribulations of the film shoot and its length.

Legend of Excalibur (HD, 6:05) – The new take on an old legend for a modern audience (Getting the gyst of these yet?)

Scenic Scotland (HD, 1.78:1; 5:33) – Focuses on wrapping production in Scotland.

Summary 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is pretty much the ho-hum tale you may have expected before going in. This Blu-ray disc is rather all right. The film features a solid Blu-ray image to go along with a booming Atmos track. Extras focus on making this film rather than anything to do with the purpose of this film or where they were going. If you like the film and must have it on Blu-ray, I suggest the patient route; hold off until it gets down to a bit more reasonable of a price.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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