“A $175 million superhero stinker.”
“A box office pauper.”
These are just some of the terms being bandied about in the media regarding director Guy Ritchie’s big-budget reimagining of the legend of King Arthur.
Starring Jude Law, Eric Bana and Charlie Hunnam, with a much-publicised cameo from David Beckham, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tells the tale of the British king’s journey from a brothel in a back alley to the throne.
With a budget of $US175 million ($A236 million) there were high hopes for the flick, but critics have been quick to dismiss it.
Audience, too, have stayed away, with the film grossing a measly $US15 million in its opening weekend in the United States.
It was a brutal reception for a film that, at its Melbourne premiere on Wednesday night, generated plenty of positive audience reaction and not a single walk-out.
Although far from perfect, it must be said King Arthur is a far more entertaining and well-executed film than many of its current box office peers.
It’s funnier than Amy Schumer’s comedy Snatched, has a far more captivating plot than Keanu Reeves’ John Wick 2, and is certainly more original than The Fate of the Furious.
Plus, unlike its box office competitors, King Arthur has Charlie Hunnam – arguably one of the most exciting actors out there to watch.
Like a more coherent, charismatic version of Tom Hardy, Hunnam – who has primarily appeared on US television until now – can straddle the action, comedy and romance genres with ease.
He’s joined by a cast which, although lacking in star factor, is eminently likeable and surprisingly hilarious. Djimon Hounsou, Game of Thrones‘ Aiden Gillen (aka Littlefinger) and Law are all hard to fault.
Then there’s Beckham, whose brief but hilarious appearance – complete with hideous prosthetic nose – doesn’t take itself too seriously.
UK television host Piers Morgan appeared to miss the joke, however, when he declared Beckham’s acting career over before it even began, blaming him for the movie “tanking” at the box office.
Those familiar with Ritchie’s work will see all the usual hallmarks of his films – snappy dialogue, rough-and-tumble action, a choppy soundtrack and lots of manly bonding.
The use of CGI is excessive and the plot does stray from its original source material, but neither of these are crimes punishable by box office death.
Where the film does fall down is in its noticeable lack of women – French actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey, playing a a mysterious sorceress, is essentially flying the female flag all by her lonesome.
Otherwise, there’s plenty to like and the film sets itself up well for at least a sequel – if not the six films originally planned for the franchise (that plan is now “dead”, according to industry sources).
The ‘big-budget box office failure’ narrative might make for a good headline, but in this case King Arthur is undeserving of the flak.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is in cinemas from May 18, 2017.