With the release this week of Guy Ritchie's 'King Arthur : Legend of the Sword' as Previewed below, this sets in place yet another Arthurian legend inspired big screen epic that began a hundred years ago with the forty minute short drama film inspired by the story of The Holy Grail - 'The Knights of the Square Table'. Since then there has been a plethora of King Arthur, Holy Grail, Knights of the Round Table, Camelot, Sir Lancelot, Merlin films, animated features and television series inspired fare that continues right up to the present day. Below are some of those more memorable Arthurian legend offerings that might be worth checking out :-
* 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' - released in 1921 and based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by Emmett J. Flynn, and starring Charles Clary as King Arthur.
* 'A Connecticut Yankee' - released in 1931 and also based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by David Butler and starring William Farnum as King Arthur with Maureen O'Sullivan and Myrna Loy.
* 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' - released in 1949 and based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by Tay Garnett and starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke as King Arthur with Bing Crosby.
* 'Knights of the Round Table' - released in 1953, Directed by Richard Thorpe, and starring Mel Ferrer as King Arthur with Stanley Baker, Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner and Desmond Llewelyn.
* 'Siege of the Saxons' - released in 1963 and Directed by Nathan H. Juran and starring Mark Dignam as King Arthur.
* 'Camelot' - released in 1967, Directed by Joshua Logan and starring Richard Harris as King Arthur, with Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero and Lionel Jeffries.
* 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' - released in 1975, Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones and starring Graham Chapman as King Arthur with John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Connie Booth and Neil Innes.
* 'Excalibur' - released in 1981, Directed by John Boorman and starring Nigel Terry as King Arthur with Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, and Ciaran Hinds.
* 'A Kid in King Arthur's Court' - released in 1995 and based on Mark Twain's book, Produced by Walt Disney Studios and Directed by Michael Gottlieb, and starring Joss Ackland as King Arthur with Daniel Craig, Kate Winslet, Art Mallick and Ron Moody.
* 'First Knight' - released in 1995, Directed by Jerry Zucker and starring Sean Connery as King Arthur with Richard Gere, John Gielgud, Ben Cross, Liam Cunningham and Julia Ormond.
* 'Prince Valiant' - released in 1997 and Directed by Anthony Hickox and starring Edward Fox as King Arthur with Katherine Heigl, Joanna Lumley, and Ron Perlman. This was an updated version of the earlier 1954 film of the same name that featured Jason Mason, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner, Sterling Hayden and Debra Paget.
* 'A Knight in Camelot' - released in 1998 and based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by Roger Young and starring Michael York as King Arthur with Whoopi Goldberg, Ian Richardson and Amanda Donohoe.
* 'King Arthur' - released in 2004, Directed by Antoine Fuqua, and starring Clive Owen as King Arthur with Ioan Gruffudd, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Hugh Dancy, Ray Winstone, Stephen Dillane, Stellan Skarsgard and Keira Knightley.
This week with six new cinematic releases to tempt you out to your local movie theatre, we kick off with a gun-fu heavy assassin actioner sequel to a surprise hit of a few years ago, that ramps up the action and the body count a notch further and has already proved successful with audiences and Critics alike. We then have another big screen retelling of Arthurian legend that is an alternative origin story for this King interlaced with all the fantasy, action and effects that money can buy. On the other side of that coin we have an Aussie Sci-Fi made on a shoestring budget by comparison that looks a gazillion dollars more expensive that it actually was and has already received much critical praise - Hollywood beware! Then we move to a historical drama set in India at the time of their independence, and the six months leading up to the partitioning of that country as told form the point of the view of the English Lord and Lady Viceroy tasked with overseeing that transition process. We return then to an Aussie drama based on a landmark true legal story that unfolded fifteen or so years ago, featuring one childs sexual abuse at the hands of her teacher, and the Anglican Church who tried to cover it up. Then we wrap up the week with a story of how an elderly mans life is changed by the sudden re-emergenece of his life experiences of some fifty years ago, and whether at this late stage in his life he can get over the resurfaced guilt and regret, and live out his life in peace and acceptance.
With such a rich, colourful and varied choice of new release films coming to a cinema near you in the week ahead, be sure to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations when you have sat through your film entertainment of choice over the coming seven days. Simply record your succinct, relevant and unbiased views of any of the films Previewed below, or those Reviewed and Previewed here previously, in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and meanwhile, enjoy your film.
'JOHN WICK : CHAPTER 2' (Rated MA15+) - the character of John Wick as played by Keanu Reeves first burst onto our screens all guns blazing in 2014 and proved to be a critical success, whilst grossing US$89M off its US$20M budget. It was therefore inevitable that a sequel would follow, and now in 2017 our titular forced out of retirement hitman seeking vengeance and justice down the barrel of a gun, is back. Keanu Reeves reprises the role he so successfully made his own from the get-go, and Director Chad Stahelski is back in the chair with this film that saw its initial release in the US in early February, has so far made US$165M from its US$40M budget and has received much critical praise.
'KING ARTHUR : LEGEND OF THE SWORD' (Rated M) - Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written for the screen by Guy Ritchie, this big screen, sharp dialogue, effects filled, action heavy retelling of the Arthurian legend came at a budget cost of US$175M and has so far taken US$47M since its release last week in the US, and has so far garnered average Reviews only. The story here tells of Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana), King of the Britons who is slain by his brother Vortigern (Jude Law), leaving Uther's young son an orphan to drift down stream all the way to Londonium where he is rescued and named Arthur who grows up to be Charlie Hunnam. Arthur grows up poor on the streets but has the smarts and the fighting skills to survive, while his Uncle Vortigern rules. When a twist of fate leads him to pull the mythical sword Excalibur from a stone, Arthur comes to realise his true purpose and his destiny to overcome his Uncle, claim his rightful throne and lead the people of England. Also starring Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen and the already maligned soccer ace David Beckham in a cameo role. This is reported to be the first in a franchise of six films . . . depending on Box Office success no doubt.
'THE OSIRIS CHILD : SCIENCE FICTION VOLUME ONE' (Rated MA15+) - this low budget Australian Sci-Fi actioner Directed and Written by Shane Abbess goes on limited release across Australia this week. Having already received much positive press for punching well above its weight in terms of production values, storyline, visual effects and the performances from the principle cast, this little Aussie offering is said to give similar Hollywood big budget action epics a lesson or two in how less can be more! Set in a time of interplanetary colonisation, Sy Lombrok (Kellan Lutz) is a drifter with a damaged past who by necessity forms an unlikely partnership with Kane Sommerville (Daniel McPherson) a lieutenant for an off-world military contractor, known as Exor. The pair set off to rescue Kane's daughter Indi (Teagan Croft) in a race against time and against the bad guys with the threat of an imminent global disaster brought about by Exor also weighing them down heavily. Starring Isabel Lucas, Rachel Griffiths and Temuera Morrison too.
'VICEROY'S HOUSE' (Rated PG) - the house in question here, was the residence in Delhi of the British rulers of India. In 1947, after three hundred or so years of rule, that reign was coming to an end. For six months in the lead up to independence, Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) the great grandson of Queen Victoria, was put in charge of overseeing that transition. Here this story as Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written by Gurinda Chadha, unfolds as the upstairs of the house occupied by the Lord and his Lady (Gillian Anderson) and their daughter Pamela (Lily Travers), whilst downstairs lived some five hundred or so Hindu, Seikh and Muslim servants. As the political power players of the day wrangle over the birth of the new nation, fierce conflicts of opinion ensue resulting in the partition of the country so forming a new State - Pakistan, whilst all is also not well in the the Viceroy household either. Also starring Michael Gambon as Lord Ismay, this film was released in the UK in early March and has received generally favourable Reviews.
'DON'T TELL' (Rated M) - based on the book of the same name by lawyer Stephen Roche, this gripping true story of child sex abuse at the hands of a teacher, is Australia's version to the Best Picture Academy Award Winner 'Spotlight' and is Directed by Tori Garrett. Telling the 2001 story of how a young woman broke her many years of silence into sexual abuse as an eleven year old at the noted Toowoomba Prep. School in Queensland by her Boarding House Master, and the courtroom battle that followed with the Anglican Church and the School where the abuse occurred. With the help of lawyer Stephen Roche (Aden Young), the woman known only as Lyndal (Sara West) took up the case against the School in Toowoomba and the Anglican Archdiocese in what is now considered a landmark hearing and the instigator of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Also starring Rachel Griffiths as psychologist Joy Conolly, Jack Thompson as Lyndal's Barrister Bob Myers, Susie Porter and Martin Sacks as Lyndal's parents Sue and Tony respectively, Julia McKenzie as Jean Dalton, the Barrister acting on behalf of the School and Gyton Grantley as Kevin Guy, the Boarding House Master at the School who abused Lyndal.
'THE SENSE OF AN ENDING' (Rated M) - based on the 2011 Booker Prize winning novel of the same name by Julian Barnes and Directed by Ritesh Batra, this drama film was released in the US in early-March, in the UK in mid-April and now in mid-May arrives in Australia, having garnered generally positive Reviews along the way. Here Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) is an elderly small business owner and divorcee, who is stuck in the hum drum routine world that offers the comfort of predictability and familiarity. One day however, a registered letter arrives advising him that he is a beneficiary in the Last Will and Testament of the mother of a girl he dated at University some fifty years ago. This sets off a chain of events that causes Tony to look back on his life, his memories, his own history coming away with a sense of guilt and regret over his past actions all those years ago and whether at his stage in life he can overcome those emotions so that he can make the most of what time he has left. Also starring Charlotte Rampling, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Joe Alwyn, Harriet Walter and Michelle Dockery.
Six new films to choose from in the coming week, together with those out currently on general release as Reviewed and Previewed between these humble pages previously. Covering almost all genres, there is sure to be something to please even the most discerning film going taste buds. Remember to share your thoughts with us here when you have sat through your big screen entertainment of choice, and in the meantime, I'll see you somewhere, sometime in the week ahead at your local Odeon.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-