King Arthur Antoine Fuqua

King Arthur Antoine Fuqua
The Arthurian legend gets a quasi-revisionist update in this handsome but lifeless historical pageant. Supposedly based on relatively recent scholarships, the film dates the advent of Arthur (Clive Owen) at about a thousand years prior to the middle ages; here he's a subjugated Briton sent off to fight for Rome who's now on his last mission, escorting an important Roman through Saxon territory and doubting the righteousness of his cause. While director Antoine Fuqua does his damnedest to convince us that what we're watching is serious business, we don't get a terribly complex sense of who Arthur or the rest of the Round Table crew really are. The film tries to do double duty as period drama and Jerry Bruckheimer action romp, and the two functions cancel each other out. On the one hand, it's too vague and unconvincing in its realism, with a lot of expository speechifying straight out of Screenwriting 101; on the other, its tone is grim and unpleasant, slowing it down and killing its potential as pure entertainment. The case promises "more intense action not seen in theatres," which paints a sad picture of the theatrical version's intensity. There are loads of extras though, starting with a commentary by Fuqua that's just as vague and imprecise as his movie; a "making of" featurette that's more interesting for its small technical details than any artistic decisions; a "cast and filmmaker round table," in which the Bruckheimer, Fuqua, writer David Franzoni and the principals discuss matters already discussed in the featurette. There's also a deleted, downbeat alternate ending with optional commentary on why they chickened out after previews; a pop-up trivia track for the easily amused; a photo gallery; and a demo for the Xbox game adaptation. (Touchstone/Buena Vista)