Knight of the Living Dead; This Listless 'King Arthur' Even Lacks a Love Triangle

Newsweek, July 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

Knight of the Living Dead; This Listless 'King Arthur' Even Lacks a Love Triangle


Byline: Marc Peyser

Some movies are director's films. Others are star vehicles, or even writer's films. "King Arthur" is that rarest of summer blockbusters--a weatherman's film. The opening shot shows Arthur (Clive Owen) and his posse on horseback, galloping in the fog, and there's so much mist in the rest of the movie that you'll swear they've moved the story from Camelot to San Francisco. There's also a lot of wind and, about halfway through, a snowstorm that sets the stage for the movie's tour de forecast: a battle on the ice, filmed from above and below a frozen, cracking river. It's thrilling to see the bad guys go crashing to their icy doom, but a little dreary in retrospect: that's as good as the film's going to get.

Somewhere inside "King Arthur" is a feel-good movie about virtue triumphing over evil, but you'll have to look hard to find it. This is something of an Arthurian prequel: our Arthur actually comes from Rome, and he's itching to return home from Britain after one too many battles. Just as he's about to get his walking papers, he and his men are sent on one final mission--don't you just hate when that happens?--to save the pope's favorite godson from the vicious Saxons. Along with way, he also rescues Guinevere (Keira Knightley) from some religious zealots, forges an uneasy alliance with Merlin (Stephen Dillane) and spouts endlessly about God and equality around an oversize Round Table. …

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