DVD review from The Movie Snob.
King Arthur (C-). This 2004 film is a very different version of the Arthurian legend from any I have seen before. In fact, it’s more of a Roman epic like Centurion or The Last Legion (although much better than either of those turkeys). In the mid-400s A.D., the Romans are pulling out of Britain, but Roman commander Artorius (Clive Owen, Children of Men), is sent north of Hadrian’s Wall to rescue a handful of Roman citizens from an approaching Saxon army. He takes his handful of comrade knights, including Lancelot (Ioan Gruffud, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) and Galahad (Hugh Dancy, The Jane Austen Book Club), on his quest, and against great odds they succeed. They also pick up a rather fetching local pagan named Guenevere (Keira Knightley, Never Let Me Go) along the way. She persuades Artorius to stay and help her people, the Woads, oppose the wicked Saxons, who are led by the evil Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgard, Thor). As you may have gathered, this movie is completely unlike Excalibur (Merlin is barely in it, and there’s no magic at all), but like Excalibur I give it credit for trying to have some decent fight scenes (although they go on and on a bit too long in the “director’s cut” that I watched). Oh, I should note that, in Hollywood fashion, the movie makes the few Roman Christian characters out to be villains and it associates Artorius’s relative benevolence and love of freedom with his adherence to the early Christian heresy of Pelagianism. Anyhow, it’s not a very good movie, but it’s a tolerable one.