Cover Art and Menu: 5/10
Boring. Again a cover that reeks of Hollywood hoo-haa and I have no more tolerance for this kind of covers. If they want to subject the general public to the same old crap all the time, so be it. I will be ever searching for cover art that catches my difficult to please eye, but until that day I will no longer even try to be nice about these slapped together pieces of mind numbing yuck. Congratulations Disney, you win the prize for the most uninteresting, most unappealing DVD covers in the universe..good job.
It may not be an official “extra” but this is the Director’s Cut of the film and that is something to mention. When Disney saw this version, the director’s original cut, they got scared of the blood, the severed limbs, and possibly the longer more intense fight scenes so they tamed it down quite to make it more family friendly. I personally prefer the rougher version because it portrays a more realistic (if that’s possible) down and dirty look at what it could have been like in that time in history. No one can make a movie that brings the past to life with anything other than hopes that it does the time period justice, but to water down what must have been a seriously violent time makes it less interesting and less credible.
In the extended version we get thirteen minutes of extra footage, in which I’m sure there are more spurts of blood and more close ups of our “heroes” being vicious.
- Alternate Ending – Someday there will be yet another movie about Vietnam and Disney will want to put a happy ending on IT. Those people actually do live in a dream world. So, when a folklore ridden story like that of King Author needs an ending they, of course, have to get that happily-ever-after tagged on there. This is the alternate to that Never land kind of ending. Not so up beat and a tad darker, but still not bleak enough to really do justice to the age of King Author.
- Blood On The Land Featurette – Making a movie like King Author is not a small job. This behind the scenes feature, along with the round table discussion takes us a little deeper, but it too short to be very satisfying. I appreciate the effort, but I was hoping for history behind the King Author story, more details about the real life history of Great Britain, and Europe. The redeeming value of this extra is that it high lights Antoine Fuqua, the director, and I was thoroughly impressed with his maturity, professionalism and the way such a young man handled this huge project.
- Cast & Filmmaker Round Table – Director Fuqua and cast members, along with the screenwriter and Mr. Bruckheimer himself sit around a mini-round table discussing the film’s production and the legend of King Arthur. It’s a nice little extra and well worth a look.
- Director Commentary – Fuqua is an intense guy who seems to take his job as film director very seriously and it shows. You see it on his face when he is working and you can hear it while he talks about each scene.
- Knight Vision Trivia Track – Watch the movie with a text pop up trivia about the production staff and the making of the movie. I like this kind of information, but I would have preferred that it be incorporated it into more documentary style extras separate from the movie. I guess I’m just spoiled by shows like A&E’s Biography, and various shows on the History channel that make an effort to bring the more mundane details of events to life with lots of pictures, voiceovers, and background music. Maybe I just need to lower my expectations when it comes to DVD extras as it seems most companies are doing what they can to cut back on what they are willing to do with their overall presentation.
- Producers Photo Gallery – Bruckheimer takes lots of photos while he’s on the set of any of his famed flicks and it makes for a nice collection to browse through.
- King Arthur Playable Xbox Demo – Ok, a game demo is a cool extra, I will have to admit to that right off the bat. I have to say, however, that this game does not look very interesting. But then again I’m not here to review a game, am I? I have to applaud the idea of it, but next time I hope to find a game that makes me want to play the full version when it hits the store.
The Movie: 7/10:
From start to finish the screen almost never stops seething with visually stimulating jewels of Hollywood movie making. That’s not a bad thing. I’m not being snotty. I actually sincerely mean it. There’s a great story to tell, fantastic bad guy, sexy leading man, vivacious starlet, lots of amazing costumes, props, smoke, CGI backdrops, blood cannons, and body paint, how could that be bad? This is a good example how an epic story like the tale of King Author can benefit from a big budget and the right people working behind and in front of the camera. Some people want every big story to be a big chunk of humor and shiny action with a hint of real story telling to fill in the gaps. I like humor, most of the time, but sometimes it’s inappropriate. This is not Pirates of the Caribbean (a great movie I must admit), which is what some people expected, in the sense that it’s not full of comic moments mixed with a dark theme.
King Arthur has a dark over tone with very little levity sprinkled here and there just to give you some relief from the sword fights, the battles, the semi-historic references, the mud, blood, and other gritty distractions. I personally could do without the one liners and attempts at modernizing the characters to make them more audience friendly. This is one of the few things I don’t like about the film. It does play into that now and then so it’s kind of like a break in the illusion of being lost in the past. You are reminded of a more recent culture of how we speak to one another and the campy way we communicate.
The occasional weak dialogue is the one thing that I have to complain about. Unfortunately that’s enough to make King Arthur less appealing for me than I really wish it would be. I love the look of the film. It’s dark, smoky, wet, dreary, and never takes the easy way out with a sunny moment.
The fight sequences are amazing, as most are these days, but they come at a price. When it’s time for any of the scenes where romance is budding between Arthur and Guinevere they seem out of place. This is another thing I don’t particularly like about the film. It’s almost comical when you realize you just watched hundreds get slaughtered and all of a sudden we have two characters looking at each other with googily eyes and flirting, even though Knightley and Owen do an admirable job with the dialogue they have to work with, it still falls short of the excitement and passion of the rest of the film. It’s a strange pace to keep up with, switching from romance to revolution! I think because Fuqua wanted to bring his type of realism to the battles and to the heart of the story, which is a country being taken back by it’s people and the beginning of a king’s reign, the love story element is too fluffy and feels like it’s tagged on to make audiences happy.
The film does stir up a lot of curiosity about the legend of King Arthur and the true history of how the British empire began. It even sparked a discussion between my husband and I about how history is fundamentally flawed because as humans we can’t ever stick to the facts, we have to embellish the truth to make life that much more interesting. Who knows what the true story of King Arthur is, or any historic figure for that matter? What I do know is that with a director like Fuqua you watch his film version of history and it fills in the gaps, however fantastical, inaccurate, commercial, or outrageous it may be, where our history books stopped. Not to mention the simple pleasure of getting lost in a story with knights, swords, kings, and damsels in distress.
This is a good movie, not great, but good. What saves the DVD is the extras. There are not a whole lot, but what they did give us adds to the package enough to make it almost worth the price. At just over $20 online I would have to say this is a fair value, but not great. I liked the movie, but it’s a hard sell for me since I didn’t LOVE it. I appreciate the extras and I did enjoy the story. I guess I just wish that these bigger movies would be more forgiving when it comes to cashing in on their DVD’s. If you are a fan of Ms. Knightley or just a romantic when it comes to historic events, this is a classic epic keeper, well worth a spot on your shelf. If you just want a bit of battling swordplay fun and a really great looking film to entertain you, well, this is a prime candidate for a rental.
Overall Score 7/10