It’s hard for me to know what to do with this movie which, like other Guy Ritchie movies ostensibly based on preexisting sources, basically ignores its source but which is reasonably entertaining.
Let’s get this straight: this is not the King Arthur legend. It’s a few moments and themes taken from Arthur, combined with Moses’ escape as a baby, with a whole lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with the legend, such as gigantic elephant monsters. It has far less reverence for the source material than Fuqua’s earlier blockbuster take on it, but Ritchie is a better and more entertaining filmmaker than Fuqua, so this absolute bastardization of the story is far more entertaining than that silly movie. (Don’t get me wrong: this is a very silly movie.) It really feels as though they called this King Arthur basically for marketing reasons (or, because they likely would have to have acknowledged the inspiration of the legends).
If you judge this film on its faithfulness to the source material, it is awful. But it doesn’t pretend to be faithful, as the giant elephant monsters make their appearance in the opening scenes of the film, basically a statement that says “we don’t care,” much like the kind of absurdities of the Holmes movies Ritchie made earlier were evident from the very beginning.
Ritchie falls back on his stylistic quirks but in a medieval action movie his style feels fresh and unique. There are a couple of sequences that work way better than they have any right to, given how bad the story is. One standout is the montage of Arthur growing up before he knows who he is, which feels like it has zero precedent in these kinds of medieval action films.
But this is still a very silly movie, completely over the top and bearing basically zero resemblance to the story it’s supposed to be telling.