March 20, 2006

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review

King Arthur (2004)

The bastard child of Braveheart and Gladiator.

I was prepared to like this movie because it purported to explore the Arthurian tradition in its most likely historical context, namely the attempt of the 6th Century sub-Romanized Britons to hold off Saxon conquest of the Island. The evidence indicates that the Britons were, in fact, successful in checking Saxon expansion west and north for a time, and this success is often attributed to a particular war leader who was able to rally the Britons together and inflict a series of military defeats on the Saxons. Whoever this leader was, he is most likely the historical antecedent on which the Arthurian legends were built. As I believe I've said before, I find this story far more stirring than I do legends about dragons, wizards, semi-Druidical spiritualism and whatnot.

Anyhoo, considering that this movie was a) a product of Hollywood and b) more specifically, a product of Jerry Bruckheimer, I don't know why I bothered getting my hopes up at all. While there are some neat visuals and pretty good action, the thing is such a mishmash of historical inaccuracies and modern Celtic Chic pap that I quickly got impatient with it. Not even Keira Knightly very improbably rigged out in a leather bikini top and longbow combo could save it for me.

Now this wouldn't bother me so much if the movie itself didn't claim to be historically realistic. But since it did, I'm a carpin'.

And on another front (so to speak), there is a scene in which the plucky column of Celtic refugees led by Arthur and a handful of his knights gets trapped on an icy lake by the pursuing Saxons. Owing to a combination of courage and skill, Arthur and his men cause the ice to crack under their enemy, spilling many of them into the drink. I'm almost positive this is a direct rip-off of Sergei Eisenstein's 1938 Russian epic Aleksandr Nevskiy. I suppose Bruckheimer reckoned nobody would notice if he helped himself.

Posted by Robert at March 20, 2006 05:54 PM | TrackBack

Yep, Aleksandr Nevskiy. (Terrific score by Prokofiev, BTW.) And Bruckheimer's involvement most certainly should have clued you in. The man befouls everything he touches. Not an insult, just plain fact.

Posted by: utron at March 20, 2006 07:37 PM

Not even Keira Knightly very improbably rigged out in a leather bikini top and longbow combo could save it for me.

You are obviously dead.

Posted by: LB Buddy at March 20, 2006 07:42 PM

Had the same hopes as you, in re:historical possibilities. Disappointed again. What is wrong with people that they don't realize the story itself is incredible without the celtic-psycho-babble-mythological crap...
oh well.

Posted by: JulieB at March 21, 2006 12:36 AM

The fabric of the Universe is about to be ripped open:
I agree with LBB.

Posted by: Brian B at March 21, 2006 09:33 AM