King Arthur was a success even before it came out, at least for guys who like guy movies. It's got everything that a great action saga needs: fierce battle sequences, a hot chick and a passable plot. King Arthur is chock full of sword fighting and arrow slinging, Keira "please bear my children" Knightley, and one of the greatest epic tales of all time. Then, throw in a ton of testosterone-soaked explosions. You do the math.

The greatest concern attached to King Arthur is that someone would mess it up. It looked so good on paper. Troy, however, proves that you need to be extra careful when retelling a story everyone knows. Director Antoine Fuqua rightly chose to craft a thoroughly believable and less fantastic version of the story. And it works.

Yes, there's a stone from which Arthur pulls Excalibur. Yes, Guinevere is absurdly good looking. Yes, there is a round table.

Past all this, the story is about people, particularly the knights and their devotion to Arthur, played by Clive Owen. They're all battle-scarred, hardy men who crack jokes as fast as they crack pates. Meanwhile, Arthur is the thinker. He's a conflicted half-Briton, half-Roman sent on a suicide mission on the exact day that their collective duty to Rome was supposed to end. He has an overwhelming sense of duty both to his men and to a version of Rome that doesn't exist.

Although previews would indicate otherwise -- perhaps to entice a female audience -- the love aspect of Arthur and Guinevere is downplayed. Rightly so, for this is a story about Arthur and his men.

The film is not the best epic story, even of this past year. It is, however, an engaging and well-done action movie. Its PG-13 rating may have some people thirsting for more blood, but the final battle scene will quench that. This movie once again proves that if Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay produces, so does the film.


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