“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”

For a hero as epic and legendary as King Arthur, constantly using montages makes him rather underwhelming. Writer/director Guy Ritchie seems content with that in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

If you’ve seen “Hamlet,” “The Lion King,” “Sons of Anarchy,” or “Man of Steel,” you already know the plot of “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is the son of a deceased king and must fight his tyrannical uncle (Jude Law) for the throne. With Excalibur and some loyal sidekicks, he discovers his full potential.

Guy Ritchie is a talented, energetic director who’s known for witty dialogue and energetic montages. Given most of the dialogue is exposition and the montages are redundant, “Legend of the Sword” is neither as witty or energetic as Ritchie’s previous works. It’s a mess!

“Legend of the Sword” is rated PG-13; however, the choppy editing clearly shows Ritchie wanted to make an R-rated movie. Each kill cuts away to another angle or to a completely different scene, making me wonder if there’s an R-rated director’s cut coming to Blu-Ray.

Ritchie’s screenplay, unfortunately, isn’t any better. It’s generic and disjointed; “Legend of the Sword” can’t decide if it wants to be an epic fantasy or a witty medieval-themed heist movie. Ritchie also seems a little too comfortable writing female characters to be imprisoned, tortured, beaten, and sacrificed on a regular basis.

As mentioned, there are sequences where Ritchie could have explored certain myths or done some world building. In one particular sequence, Arthur has to fight several creatures in a place called the Blacklands to train with Excalibur. Ritchie condenses this potentially exciting sequence into a lackluster montage without any drama or spectacle.

Charlie Hunnam is a competent protagonist, but his portrayal of Arthur is strongly reminiscent of his work in “Sons of Anarchy.” He’s having fun and there are times where he saves the scene with his charisma. Hopefully, he receives a better script to work with in the future.

Grade: D

“Crimson Peak”

“Beware… Beware of Crimson Peak.” We hear this line several times throughout Guillermo Del Toro’s gorgeous, violent, and redundant haunted house picture, “Crimson Peak”.

“Crimson Peak” has a line at one point that a character’s novel isn’t a ghost story, but a story with a ghost in it. That sums up the movie well. Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) plays Edith, a young aspiring writer who marries Thomas (a brilliant Tom Hiddleston), a charismatic engineer. They move Edith into Thomas and his mysterious sister Lucille’s (Jessica Chastain) mansion where Edith discovers her marriage with Thomas isn’t perfect. And why is Lucille insisting Edith drink her tea? Why is Edith constantly woken up in a cliche horror movie fashion by ghosts?

I love Del Toro’s work. I loved both “Hellboy” movies, “Blade II” is my favorite installment in the trilogy, “Pacific Rim” is a criminally underrated monster flick, and “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a damn masterpiece. “Crimson Peak” is still as stunning and bizarre as his previous works, but it doesn’t feel like Del Toro’s heart is in this one.

The basic plot structure of “Crimson Peak” goes something like this – girl has a romantic afternoon with her lover and a standoffish encounter with her sister-in-law. Girl wakes up in the middle of the night and has a disturbing encounter with a ghost who leads her to a secret. This happens at least four times in “Crimson Peak”, and leads to a predictable conclusion.

Wasikowska gives a charming performance as Edith, Hiddleston easily has the best performance and character, giving Thomas a level of complexity, and Charlie Hunnam of “Sons of Anarchy” fame is enjoyable as a hopeless romantic doctor. Jessica Chastain has the weakest role in this movie. She’s wonderfully crazy, but she’s just there for the most part. We don’t get to know what drives her madness.

“Crimson Peak” is worth watching for the visuals and Hiddleston alone, but don’t go in expecting another “Pan’s Labyrinth”.

Grade: C