Compiled by: Jack Foley
JERRY Bruckheimer may have been able to impress critics with
his re-imagining of a theme park ride, for last year’s Pirates
of the Caribbean, but his attempt to re-write one of English
history’s most enduring and popular characters, looks to
have fallen short with the expectations of US critics.
King Arthur claims to tell the ‘true story’ behind
the Arthurian legend, and casts Clive Owen as the historical leader,
who unites his Romano-English people in a bloody battle against
the invading Saxons, during the final days of Roman occupation.
The film co-stars Ioan Gruffudd, as Lancelot, and Keira Knightley,
as Guinevere, and substitutes blood and guts battle sequences
for the romanticism which has traditionally surrounded films on
But it drew a host of negative reviews when it opened in the
States on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 - a couple of weeks prior to
its UK debut, on July 30.
The Los Angeles Times lamented that ‘it's
the Arthurian legends, a PlayStation Passion play and a Jerry
Bruckheimer lollapalooza rolled into one’.
While Planet-Sickboy wrote that it ‘ran
two hours, felt like three, could have easily been one, and features
no less of a videogame-type plot than mothersucking Van
The Chicago Tribune advised that ‘devotees
of chivalry and Camelot should look elsewhere’.
While Newsday lamented
that ‘as a primer in the thuggish territorial land grabs
of the Dark Ages, it gets the adrenaline flowing and makes us
want to learn more. But the sheer density of the historical material
is often at odds with the cut-and-dried requirements of the action
Efilmcritic.com stated that ‘if you're
going to intentionally suck all the good parts out of a great
tale, you'd best replace them with something besides dry political
intrigue and predictable gimmickry’.
Slightly more positive, however, were the likes of Variety,
which found it ‘impressively made and well acted’,
while the Hollywood Reporter referred to it as ‘a smart
The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, went so far
as to say that ‘one of the reasons this film works is that
we don't feel as if we're watching these people through the scrim
of history and legend - they feel immediate, even contemporary’.
But Reelviews felt that ‘the term 'unintentional
comedy' was coined for a movie such as this’.
And Atlanta Journal-Constitution declared that
‘King Arthur won't charm you, hardly ever will thrill you,
and certainly will have you laughing less with it than at it’.
The New York Times, meanwhile, decided that
‘Antoine Fuqua's version of the King Arthur legend includes
an element of broad, brawny camp that prevents the movie from
being a complete drag’.
But the final word goes to About.com, which
declared it to be ‘the worst Jerry Bruckheimer film since