A sense­less retelling

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Jeff Ruf­folo

I’M a sucker for nos­tal­gia.

Any­thing from the 1960s re­ally perks my in­ter­est, so when I heard there was go­ing to be yet an­other “King Arthur” film, my mem­ory im­me­di­ately hear­kened back to the cute 1963 WaltDis­ney car­toon fan­tasy “A Sword in the Stone,” where a bum­bling teenager ac­tu­ally pulls the mag­i­cal sword Ex­cal­ibur from the stone and be­come the king of all Eng­land.

Those were gay, happy mo­ments.

Well, buster, you can tear up your Dis­ney DVD col­lec­tion as one of the gaw aw­ful, stu­pid­est movies of all time is also one of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest of big-bud­get flops — a.k.a. “King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword.”

Or, how to take a blow torch to US$175 mil­lion.

The of­fi­cial syn­op­sis says: “After the mur­der of his fa­ther Uther (Eric Bana) young Arthur’s power-hun­gry Un­cle Vor­tigern (Jude Law) seizes con­trol of the crown. Robbed of his birthright, Arthur grows up the hard way in the back al­leys of the city, not know­ing who he truly is. When fate leads him to pull the Ex­cal­ibur sword from stone, Arthur em­braces his true des­tiny to be­come a leg­endary fighter and leader.” Great Cae­sar’s Ghost! Take it from this film critic who spends most of his life in the dark, watch­ing grimy movies like this one, this ver­sion of King Arthur is ab­so­lutely dead on ar­rival, one of the most poorly acted films in mod­ern mem­ory with cin­e­matog­ra­phy that comes from a fail­ing high school art stu­dent. And dark? When you en­ter the dark­ened the­ater, you’ll need to power up your mo­bile phone, folks, and turn on the flash­light — not to find your seat but to help the on-screen ac­tors read their di­a­logue. What lit­tle mind­less drivel there is! “King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword” must have been filmed in a driv­ing rain­storm, in the mud, in Lon­don, in De­cem­ber, at mid­night, in pitch dark­ness, by a sight­less, phys­i­cally chal­lenged cin­e­matog­ra­pher his sec­ond­hand 35 mm 1965 Ko­dak In­sta­matic Point and Shoot Cam­era with the lens cap on.

This movie is so dark it is im­pos­si­ble to watch with­out Su­per­man’s x-ray vi­sion to see who is on the screen and what is go­ing on.

This “film” should have been dis­trib­uted in black and white. Then over­dubbed in Rus­sian. It wouldn’t have made any dif­fer­ence!

“King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword” starts with a laugh­ingly bad, gi­gan­tic ele­phant-look­ing, CGI mon­ster tear­ing up a cas­tle fortress dur­ing a bat­tle scene right out of “Harry Pot­ter” that I thought was won by the good guys. My vi­sion must be fail­ing me. Then fol­lowed an im­me­di­ate (and spo­radic) rape/love scene — I hon­estly couldn’t see with­out squint­ing — after which we move very fast through the years to watch Arthur (I sup­pose he was the cre­ation of the im­petu­ous union by Uther and whomever) be­ing beaten to a pulp his friendly next-door neigh­bors.

All young Arthur knows of life is wan­ton mur­der, rape, greed, rape, hor­rific vi­o­lence, theft and rape.

A jolted and freak­ily bizarre time jump de­picts the young boy grow­ing into man­hood — fi­nally stop­ping when we are in­tro­duced to the adult (30+ some­thing) Arthur (Char­lie Hun­nam) — the fu­ture king of Eng­land. Who is a thug. The worst of the worst. As he runs from the lo­cal po­lice through one back al­ley­way after an­other, we find our­selves im­me­di­ately ask­ing, “Why would I care what hap­pens to this morally bank­rupt, pa­thetic loser?”

Yes, Arthur even­tu­ally finds re­demp­tion, de­feats his evil Un­cle and I think he kisses a girl.

I may be mis­taken; I couldn’t see very clearly.

Maybe he kissed his horse in­stead?

Arthur does find Ex­cal­ibur and pulls the leg­endary mag­i­cal sword from the stone, and life is again won­der­ful and lovely. AGGG! What a pile of stink­ing horse hokum.

This movie, which was try­ing for a “Harry Pot­ter­ish” theme, has al­ready crashed and burned in the­aters through­out Amer­ica dur­ing its do­mes­tic re­lease.

It should be banned from ev­ery movie house in the Philip­pines. Just be­cause. The Book of Moses re­counts: “It came to pass that fear ex­ceed­ingly; and as he be­gan to fear, he saw the bit­ter­ness of Hell.” Oh, yeah. Well, buster, it doesn’t mean I have to spend my hard-earned pe­sos to take a free hol­i­day there.

Watch­ing “King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword” is akin to latch­ing your­self into the front seat of a ru­ined roller coaster as it spins out of con­trol and chucks you and ev­ery­one else on board, straight down into the ninth level of Hades — right into the nether­most form of hu­man degra­da­tion.

This “King Arthur” is a re­ally bad guy, has ab­so­lutely no re­deem­ing value what­so­ever and to be to­tally hon­est, this is a lousy “ac­tion ad­ven­ture” film.

After the credit ran, I felt all scummy and dirty.

Like I needed a 30-minute hot shower to wash off all of the muck and filth I just wit­nessed.

Writ­ten and di­rected for the screen by Guy Richie (“Snatch”) and sup­pos­edly filmed in Wales — I have no idea since it was too dark to see any­thing even dur­ing the day­light scenes — “King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword” will have a warm and ten­der spot at the end of the year for our CEBU DAILY NEWS’ “Year in Re­view.”

Hold­ing Ex­cal­ibur high into the air, “King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword” has who the ran­du­bi­ous out of honor bat­ter­ies as for be­ing the worst film of this or any year.

Ever! Ques­tions, com­ments or travel sug­ges­tions, write me at read­in­gruffo­los@gmail.com.

THIS IM­AGE re­leased by Warner Bros. Pic­tures shows David Beck­ham (ex­treme right) in a scene from “King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword.”

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