By George Rose
May 19, 2009
King Arthur (2004)
Clive Owen is one of those actors that I follow. He drives women wild and carries himself like an alpha male. The man, like so many others in Hollywood, deserves a bigger career. I wrote in a previous article about my love for him in Closer and must now remind you all again of his presence with King Arthur. With his deep, booming voice and wide, muscular frame, Owen is perfect casting as the King in Jerry Bruckheimer's little seen action-epic from 2004.
For those unfamiliar with the legendary tale, you're in luck. This version of the classic takes the liberty of dropping all mystical elements seen in previous takes in exchange for a realistic look at the characters set during the period after the collapse of the Roman Empire. There is no sword-in-the-stone for Owen to pull out but rather epic wars, religious conflict and political power struggles. Keeping him company are Keira Knightley as Guinevere (who is welcome to stay in any movie, in my book) and Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot (a role much more suited to him than Mr. Fantastic in The Fantastic Four).
While I am under the belief that either knowing or not-knowing previous source material affects the viewing pleasure of a film that has something to work from, King Arthur is a completely original take on material that has been redone a million times. There is no King Arthur book series or franchise. This story of a man who discovers his place among the community as its leader into freedom has seen so many incarnations that the only thing anyone can expect from Hollywood's latest attempt is the brand name itself. As far as films go, the action is exciting, the chemistry between Owen and Knightley is undeniable and the Bruckheimer stamp-of-approval is noticeable; all the things you could want and expect from a Summer movie.
The only thing that did not live up to expectations were its box office receipts. While the masses (and even some at BOP) dismiss this feature, I would rather watch it another ten times before watching Wolverine even once more. Maybe it's my blind love for Owen. Maybe it's because I can tolerate Gruffudd as Lancelot and not as Mr. Fantastic. Or maybe others didn't like it because the week before it was released the phenomenal Spider-Man 2 came out and their expectations had been offset. I don't know, and probably never will, but I do know I enjoyed the film and plan to continue to follow Owen as long as his career lasts. Then again, we all know how plans tend to work out. If they had for Disney and Bruckheimer, King Arthur would have been a bigger hit. I would also have more free time to watch movies I haven't seen yet but for now, here are five that I own in my DVD collection. For next week's article I plan to watch a few movies I haven't seen yet and rant about those, but who knows. Let's see what our busy week brings.