Imagine a tale of King Arthur that tosses out the devastating triangular love story between Arthur, his wife and his best friend; a tale without reference to the grail quest, Camelot, the noble chivalric code or any hint of magic... in short, an Arthurian tale minus everything the average person knows or cares about Arthur and his knights. In its place: Some dodgy history involving a shadowy Roman commander named Lucius Artorius Castus and his men, bound to defend Roman interests in ancient Britain against native Picts (contemptuously dubbed "woads," after the woad plant they use to paint themselves blue) and invading Saxons. The brooding Artorius, widely known as Arthur (Clive Owen), leads a small band of warriors whose skill and ferocity is already the stuff of legend. His knights — Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), Gawain (Joel Edgerton), Galahad (Hugh Dancy), Bors (Ray Winstone) and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson) — who were all conscripted as children in their native Sarmatia (in the general area of today's Georgian Republic), have completed 15 years of indentured service to Rome and are looking forward to going home, though several wonder whether they can actually call a land they barely remember "home." But even as they're celebrating their impending freedom, Arthur is handed orders to rescue a Roman family whose estate lies directly in the path of the invading Saxon hordes. Torn between national and personal loyalty, Arthur leads his men on a mission that requires eluding guerilla leader Merlin's (Stephen Dillane) Pictish warriors on the way in and outrunning the pillaging Saxons, commanded by brutal father-and-son warlords Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgard) and Cynric (Til Schweiger), on the way out. Arthur comes away stripped of his faith in Rome but enfolded in the love of Pictish warrior princess Guinevere (Keira Knightley). Written by GLADIATOR's David Franzoni and directed by Antoine Fuqua, this gloomy action picture probably presents a relatively accurate picture of 5th-century life and death (mostly the latter), but it's hard to see the point in cobbling together scraps of legend and even smaller scraps of historical fact into a story this generic. Next to the grubby grandeur of John Boorman's EXCALIBUR (1981), which dirties up Arthur and Co. while maintaining a sense of enraptured wonder at the bizarre spectacle of life in a world as alien as any science-fiction landscape, this stunted epic looks very shabby indeed.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2004
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Imagine a tale of King Arthur that tosses out the devastating triangular love story between Arthur, his wife and his best friend; a tale without reference to the grail quest, Camelot, the noble chivalric code or any hint of magic... in short, an Arthurian… (more)