King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA15+King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Director: Guy Ritchie

Producers: Akiva Goldsman, Tory Tunnell, Joby Harold, Steve Clark-Hall

Screenplay: Jody Harold, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram

Story by: David Dobkin and Jody Harold

Starring: Charlie Hunnam (Arthur), Jude Law (Vortigern), Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Mage), Djimon Hounsou (Bedivere), Aidan Gillen (Bill), Eric Bana (Uther).

I love a good action film with a healthy dose of fantasy, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword delivered.

This isn’t a tale about King Arthur and the Round Table, this is more about the magic of Excalibur.

Director, Guy Ritchie has taken a classic story and turned it into something else.  If you can forget all you know about the previous tales of King Arthur and all the romance, gallantry and honour, it’s worth letting go and getting taken for the ride.

King Arthur is one of those big budget films with thought put into the camera work with director of photography, John Mathieson bringing the audience right up close to run along-side the characters.  Add burning towers, giant snakes and elephants as big as football fields, weird water creatures and the magic of The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey): you’ve got an entertaining film.

Jude Law as Vortigern, brother of King Uther (Eric Bana) and uncle to Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), gives a solid performance, legitimising the film by making the villain of the story believable.

No-one can pull a look of disdain like Jude Law.

Not to take away from Hubbard.  There is a consistent air of nonchalance he gives to every role: the laid-back smart arse hiding a sharp mind.  Deviation from this persona brings disaster, think of his role as Dr. Alan McMichael in Crimson Peak.  But he was cast well here, with the action scenes and sword fighting perfect for his physic (not that I’m a perv, well… maybe a bit…).  And the comradery with his mates, growing up in a brothel and learning the hard lessons of life off the street reminiscent of his character in, Sons of Anarchy (of which I’m a fan).

There was certainly the Guy Ritchie-esq feel to the film with fast

exchanges of dialogue and sharp changes in camera work, jumping from past to present to future in seconds.  The technique reminding me of scenes from Snatch (2000).

To get the audience up-to-speed this way can be exhilarating; to catch a train of thought, to run with it to flash to the next part, the exciting part.  But there was some definite glossing over of story that was sometimes OK and sometimes not, leaving me with the thought, That’s just lazy.  And glossing over essential aspects of Arthur’s character weakened the story.

The cracking soundtrack and music by composer Daniel Pemberton helped to lift and smooth each scene; the first thought after the film finished being, ‘Jeez, the soundtrack was good.’

And there were satisfying circles of storyline but the pacing felt patchy
with weight and time given to some scenes where essential timelines were past in fast forward.  And this was the biggest downfall of the film.

So, although the editing and story was not always consistent, the strong performance from Law and the cocky English, Guy Ritchie flavour, kept up the entertainment factor to reach expectation.

Sing Street

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Director: John CarneySing Street

Writer: John Carney

Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice; Ian Kenny.

Whether it was the Irish accent, the characters or the 80s music (had a buddy with me who couldn’t help but sing along), Sing Street was a winner for me. 

I enjoyed director, John Carney’s previous film, Begin Again (2013) and the way music was incorporated into the story of Sing Street was very similar: a stylised act used sparingly so it didn’t feel like a musical, just a film with a lot of music.  

And Sing Street had grit.  This is Ireland in the 1980s: lack of jobs and money, where alcoholism is rife and anyone who can escape to London is jumping on that ferry.

For those left.  It’s just a dream.

Conor Lalor’s (Ferdi Walsh-Peelo) parents are skint.  Money pressures lead to fighting, to tightening the belt.  Money has to be saved somewhere.  So Conor is transferred to the catholic school run by the Brothers featuring kids running amok.

Black-eyed and bullied, Conor meets the girl of his dreams, Raphina (Lucy Bonton).  A model, no less.  Showing courage, or just the power of teenage hormones, he invites Raphina to feature in a music video for his band.

She says, ‘Yeah maybe’.

Problem is, he doesn’t have a band.

This is a kid with a serious crush.  So he goes about putting together a band (Sing Street), the introduction of fellow band members and his brother, Brendan Lalor encouraging Conor, AKA, Cosmo, maps out the story of the film.  With 80s music featured, of course.

I’m talking boys with make-up and music from The Clash, The Cure, Duran Duran and many of the original tracks performed by Sing Street composed by Gary Clark (of the Northern Irish band, Relish) with John Carney able to take credit for co-writing a lot of the songs.  So that’s credit for directing, writing the script and writing songs?  That’s impressive. 

Also, this is an extremely hard film to make without becoming saccharine.  Thankfully, there was more meat to the story of boy has crush on girl out of reach, so I’ll put together a band and then she’ll love me.  This is film about escape from and the acceptance of all life can throw at you.  To plow through whatever the arguments, bullying and crap and to get on with it and create something else.  To feel something else.

It takes courage to reach.

I believed the shy Cosmo with his blushing cheeks, overcoming fear to reach for those stars.  And his muse, Raphina, could have been just a pretty yet annoying character, but she had class and philosophy – ‘That’s what love is Cosmo,’ she says.  ‘Happy-sad’.

Look, musicals aren’t really my thing – Glee?  Forget it!  But the way the music was incorporated into Sing Street was seamless.  And the tongue-in-cheek humour helped a lot, giving those few forgivable cheesy moments just the right touch to feel authentic.

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