King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) on IMDb
Director: Guy Ritchie; stars Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, David Beckham, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay, Tom Wu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Annabelle Wallis. Cert. 12A, 126 mins.

Guy Richie’s take on the Arthurian legend is as far removed from Disney’s The Sword in the Stone as you can get. If anticipating a medieval romp through the lush green fields of England, with serf-like Arthur plucking Excalibur from the stone, forget it. Richie’s Arthur is a hard-boiled pimp, living literally off the back of the whores he protects as well as creaming off the profits from illicit business deals. In doing so young Arthur, unaware of his true heritage, has built a small fortune and gathered around him a group of loyal retainers.

It is only when Arthur reaches maturity that Excalibur, embedded in the rock, emerges from its watery tomb. King Vortigern is told that the sword has appeared so that the true king can be identified. In his ruthless bid to retain power, and unmask the pretender to his throne, he orders all the young men of the land be tasked with attempting to remove the sword. Eventually Arthur comes forward and the sword yields. Imprisoned and under sentence of death Arthur has to come to terms with his birthright and forge his destiny. Only Vortigern stands in his way.

What follows is an enjoyable romp around a mystical Londinium during which Arthur battles the King’s troops and mythical monsters. Lets face it, the legend of King Arthur is a myth and therefore full of potential for a director and scriptwriters to stretch their powers of imagination. Richie’s characters are more East-End wide boys than Arthurian knights. It’s all very much Lock Stock meets Camelot which gives this movie the edge over other adaptations, though that’s not to say it is better than John Boorman’s far superior Excalibur. / Beckham not bad / Charlie drives narrative forward etc

Charismatic Charlie Hunnam as Arthur drives the narrative forward. Hunnam has carved a fine career since appearing as young, optimistic teenager Nathan Maloney in the groundbreaking Channel 4 series Queer as Folk. Hunnam moved swiftly into feature films, notably costume drama Nicholas Nickleby, and for a while seemed typecast as a naive, charmingly handsome youth appearing in three episodes of the US series Young Americans and alongside Jude Law in Cold Mountain. All the while Hunnam was honing his acting skills, and physique, that landed him the lead as Jax Teller in the US TV series Sons of Anarchy. This raw, grainy drama focused on a lawless motorcycle gang with Hunnam displaying ruthless cunning and show his talent for playing gritty, violent characters with real depth. Hunnam has no problem in allowing his softer, more feminine side to appear, which he does as Arthur, flitting effortlessly between the more ruthless avenger and caring mentor. From Nathan Maloney to King Arthur, the boy has done good.

This is a bit like a frat-pack reunion as Hunnam stars alongside Jude Law who he appeared with in Cold Mountain and Aiden Gillen, his co-star in Queer as Folk. I was surprised that Craig Kelly, who played Vince in QAF, was not involved in the movie, think of the promotion potential with Nathan, Vince and Stuart geared up, ready for battle with the tag-line ‘The Boys are Back!’ And while I’m at it, why oh why call Aiden Gillen’s character ‘Bill’? Surely he should have been call Stuart Allen Jones so that on his first meeting with Arthur, Hunnam was able to say ‘Stuart Allen Jones, fancy seeing you here?’ (For those not in the know this is a reference to Queer as Folk!)

Fresh from his more spiritual role as The Young Pope, the excellent Jude Law is merciless and ruthless as King Vortigern around whom director Richie has assembled a vast and skilled cast and crew. I’m not sure if this is David Beckham’s first film role but disagree with all the criticism the former footballer has received. Beck’s swaggers and delivers his line with ease, so much so I wanted to see more of him as his cameo was far too short. Maybe goldenballs is now considering a future in movies!

All in all, Richie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an enjoyable and entertaining romp with plenty of eye candy. If I have one request for the sequel it’s that Charlie takes his shirt off more!

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Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant (2017) on IMDb
Director: Ridley Scott. Stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz. 122 mins. Cert 15.

Colony ship, Covenant, carrying a small crew and a cargo of 2000 embryos is destined for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy. Seven years from their destination they receive muffled communication from a planet nearby that the crew believe to be human. They investigate and discover an uncharted paradise that hides a threat beyond their imagination.

In what can only be described as sequel, or is this prequel, fatigue Scott’s latest addition to the Alien franchise is as unimaginative and boring as you can get. There are no new ideas in this film that feels like an edited mis-mash of earlier movies, all be it with a new cast. The wafer thin plot holds no surprises and is consistently predictable as crew members wander off alone to a well-deserved fate! This is one movie where you wish the Alien would dispatch the cast as soon as possible, either for their stupidity or wooden acting ability. Even the talent of the wonderful Michael Fassbender, playing a dual role as identical androids David and Walter, fails to engage.

There is more suspense in the two minute trailer than in this two-hour pile of space dung. A one-star movie that would do well to disappear into a dark hole!

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Their Finest

Their Finest (2016) on IMDb
Director: Lone Scherfig; stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Helen McCrory, Eddie Marsden, Jake Lacy, Richard E Grant. Cert 12A. 117 mins.

London, 1940. Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is called to the Ministry of Information and employed to work on wartime propaganda films. Struggling to survive and support her painter husband, Ellis (Jack Huston), Catrin accepts and is soon engaged an a major morale boosting movie, based on newspaper reports of two young women who steal their father’s boat and join the flotilla to Dunkirk, rescuing retreating soldiers.

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The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending (2017) on IMDb
Director: Ritesh Batra; stars Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Emily Mortimer, James Wilby, Edward Holcroft, Freyor Mavor, Joe Alwyn. Cert 15. 108 mins

Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent), separated from his wife Margaret (Harriet Walter), becomes infatuated with long-lost love Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) who refuses to deliver a diary that has been bequeathed to Tony. Tony’s infatuation with Veronica starts after the reading of the will and is in sharp contrast to his ambivalence towards his wife

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Viceroy’s House

Viceroy's House (2017) on IMDb
Director: Gurinder Chadha. Stars Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Michael Gamdon, Om Puri, Lily Travers, Simon Williams.

The resplendent Viceroy’s House was the impressive residence of the Viceroy’s of India and is now known as the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Residence) and is the official home of the President of India. Overwhelmed at the 340-room house, Lady Edwina

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Patriot’s Day

Patriots Day (2016) on IMDb
Director: Peter Berg. Stars Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan. Cert. 15.  133 mins.

Patriot’s Day tells of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath that involved a city-wide shut down as the search for the terrorists responsible was underway. Peter Berg both directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer. The

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Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures (2016) on IMDb
Director: Theodore Melfi. Stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Glen Powell. Cert. PG. 127 mins.

This is a gem of a movie that not only entertains but is also informative. Now call me dumb but it was only when I saw the trailer for this movie that I was aware that african/american woman were employed at NASA in the 1950’s. In fact I didn’t realise women worked there

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The Great Wall

The Great Wall (2016) on IMDb
Director: Yimou Zhang. Stars Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Tian Jing, Eddie Peng, Willem Dafoe, Pilou Asbæk. Cert. 12A. 103 mins.

The film opens with mercenaries William and Tovar being chased through a barren landscape. Both men are in search of the mysterious black powder which they will then sell for a profit. Director Zhang maintains a low-key palette of dust-infused muted browns and

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Gold

Gold (2016) on IMDb
Director: Stephen Gaghan. Stars Matthew McConaugheyEdgar RamírezBryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Craig T. Nelson. Cert. 15. 120 mins.

Without doubt, Matthew McConaughey is one of Hollywood’s most attractive leading men and this may be why, rather than trade on his good looks, the actor prefers his talent to shine through and selects his roles carefully. In Free State of Jones (2016) he is almost

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Denial

Denial (2016) on IMDb

Director: Mick Jackson; stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Karen Pistorius, Alex Jennings, Harriet Walter, Mark Gatiss.  Cert. 12A.  109 mins.

As the film begins Deborah Lipstadt asks a group of students what proof is there that the holocaust happened? Sitting in the audience is holocaust denier David Irving, whose work and reputation Lipstadt has constantly challenged. Irving challenges Lipstadt to debate the

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