King Arthur: East End of the Sword

I suppose if you give Guy Ritchie a budget of $175m, and a cast of thousands, then you pretty much deserve what you get. This is, after all, the man who thought that marrying Madonna was a good idea.

Apparently, he pitched King Arthur: Legend of the Sword as ‘Snatch meets Camelot’, but it feels more like a bad episode of The Sweeney for much of the first hour, as Ritchie’s chirpy Cockney mates ‘sort it aaart’ between themselves. They all appear to be channeling Ray Winstone (apart from Charlie Humdrum, who seems to want to play Arthur as a hard-as-nails version of Craig Charles’ smart-arse Scoucer).

The only exception is Jude Law, who as ever plays Jude Law, with the same condescending sneer he has in everything from Arthurian legend to AI. Plus, of course, there’s David Beckham, who despite being born in Leytonstone, singularly fails to blend in with the Queen Vic crowd when he makes his customary Stan Lee style Guy Ritchie cameo.

All told, I really wanted to hate this film, and I was certainly sinking in my seat, clutching my head many times during the first hour. Yet somehow, Ritchie’s constant bombast slowly managed to win me over, and I was surprised to find myself not only enjoying it in the end, but actually caring what happened.

Yes, the final scenes are very much like a Marvel movie, when Captain America, sorry King Arthur, slays whole armies with his magical shield, sorry sword.

Yes, the visiting Vikings sounded more like the chef from the Muppets than terrifying raiders from the north.

And yes, the whole thing was utterly preposterous from the 300ft elephants at the start to the terrible jokes about the round table at the end.

But it worked.

I don’t quite know how or why, but it did.

Perhaps Camelot still holds some magic after all.

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