Before Benedict Cumberbatch came along, Guy Ritchie was the man who turned Sherlock Holmes into a blockbuster property for Hollywood, churning out a highly profitable pair of movies built around the famed character. Now Ritchie is trying to do the same for another famous figure from British literary history: King Arthur.
If we know anything about Ritchie, his approach to King Arthur will bring the character very much in-line with modern-day movie sensibilities, while still retaining some traditional elements. There will also be impressive visuals, a ton of bone-crunching action and more than a little humor. The question is, will this approach work as well with medieval history as it did with Holmes?
As a preview of what Ritchie has in store, EW has shared a few new images from King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, starring Charlie Hunnam as Arthur and regular Ritchie collaborator Jude Law as Arthur’s villainous uncle Vortigern. One very Ritchie-esque image shows a shirtless Hunnam engaged in hand-to-hand combat, while another shows him brandishing the legendary sword Excalibur. A third shot features Hunnam alongside costars Aiden Gillen and Djimon Hounsou, while a fourth focuses on Vortigern, who possesses powers of sorcery.
The images seem to promise a version of King Arthur that’s less about traditional epic pageantry and more about gritty, “realistic” medieval life with more than a dash of fantasy. The costumes aren’t what you would call elaborate, and the settings look pretty stripped-down and naturalistic, though there’s also that image of Vortigern showing off his decidedly non-realistic powers. In prior interviews, Charlie Hunnam has indicated that this rendering of Arthur will be more hard-edged and streetwise than previous incarnations, and that certainly seems in line with Guy Ritchie’s approach. A comic-con trailer also gave us a look at Hunnam’s “streetwise” take on Arthur.
Guy Ritchie’s record is a little mixed when it comes to bringing classic characters/properties to the big-screen. He succeeded wildly with his take on Sherlock Holmes, bringing a modern-day action-packed sensibility to the character while still preserving many essential Holmesian elements, but his version of ’60s spy-drama The Man From U.N.C.L.E. went over less well.
Not all stories necessarily lend themselves to an updated treatment, and it remains to be seen if King Arthur will benefit from the Ritchie touch. It may mean nothing, but Ritchie’s King Arthur has already had its release date moved a couple of times.
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