But for every one scene where Ritchie’s style shines through, two scenes follow where the dark cloud of typical blockbuster tropes shadows this director’s full potential. Ritchie doesn’t waste our time with Arthur battling CGI animals, but he does make us sit through repetition of callback scenes to the point where I’ve seen nearly every angle of his parents’ murder. The fight scenes he does hold on feature an abundance of slow-motion shots of swords clanging in CGI environments with CGI creatures, as if Ritchie is specifically trying to best Zack Snyder for the hearts of 12-year-old boys.
The finale of armies storming the castle and Arthur fighting a giant monster with a flaming scythe is nothing that hasn’t been seen before and done better before. The epilogue of Arthur building his round table for the inevitable sequel made my heart sink as the knights begin to question what he’s building as if a round table was some new invention. I’m surprised the script didn’t grasp for the ultimate cliché of having one knight state the obvious stinger for the potential sequel: “So what are we then? Some knights of a roundtable?”
Ritchie hasn’t exactly turned in his worst film, but he has made one in desperate need of more of his style. I could see glimmers of a better film peering through from a handful of scenes where he can slap even the most jaded of audiences awake for a blaring soundtrack, an amazing chase, a bad-ass fight or a clever strategy. But considering how he lets the movie linger and lament on the overused and uninspired moments of a medieval action picture, there’s an awful lot of slaps required to be enthused by such a story.