Big-budget action adventure based on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The film attempts to place King Arthur within the historical context of his time (around 500 AD), and take into account many more historical and political facts of the era than previous interpretations of the legend. It also dispenses with much of the magic and fantasy that have shrouded events of the period, although Merlin (Stephen Dillane) does feature as a shaman who used his powers against the Romans. Clive Owen stars as Arthur, who, as England falls into chaos after the fall of the Roman Empire, gathers around him a band of brave knights, including Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Galahad (Hugh Dancy) and Gawain (Joel Edgerton), who hope to defeat the invading Saxon armies and restore peace and order to their country. Keira Knightley co-stars as Guinevere.
It's got a round table, some knights, and a noble warrior who rises to become King Arthur
, but everything else about this revisionist legend is pure Hollywood. That's not such a bad thing if you enjoyed Rob Roy
, and there's some intriguing potential in presenting the "real" Arthur (played by Clive Owen) as a 5th-century soldier of Rome, assigned to defend Roman-imperial England against a hoard of invading Saxons (led by Stellan Skarsgard in hairy villain mode). As revamped history and "archaeological findings" would have us believe, Guinevere (Keira Knightley) is a warrior babe in face-paint and Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) is a nonentity who fades into the woodwork. Never mind. Best to enjoy the harsh, gloomy atmosphere of Irish locations, the ruggedness of Owen and his hearty supporting cast, and the entertaining nonsense of a Jerry Bruckheimer production that strips battle-ready Guinevere down to leather-strap S&M gear while all the men sport full-body armor. Hail to the queen, indeed! --Jeff Shannon