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From the producer of PEARL HARBOR and the director of TRAINING DAY, the Extended Director's Cut of KING ARTHUR explodes onto Blu-ray Disc in a blaze of hard-hitting action and glory not seen in theaters. Prepare for unsurpassed thrills as history's greatest legend roars to life in this astonishing new format. Now the adventure is longer, grittier and more explicit in this valiant tale of Arthur (Clive Owen), Guinevere (Keira Knightley), Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), and the Knights Of The Roundtable. Behold the pageantry and power of every fierce battle in spectacular 1080p, while swords clash and fortresses are pounded in thunderous 5.1 48 kHz, 24-bit uncompressed audio. Catapult your entertainment experience into another realm with Blu-ray High Definition!
It's got a round table, some knights, and a noble warrior who rises to become King Arthur, but everything else about this revisionist legend is pure Hollywood. That's not such a bad thing if you enjoyed Rob Roy, Braveheart, Gladiator, and Troy, and there's some intriguing potential in presenting the "real" Arthur (played by Clive Owen) as a 5th-century soldier of Rome, assigned to defend Roman-imperial England against a hoard of invading Saxons (led by Stellan Skarsgård in hairy villain mode). As revamped history and "archaeological findings" would have us believe, Guinevere (Keira Knightley) is a warrior babe in face-paint and Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) is a nonentity who fades into the woodwork. Never mind! Best to enjoy the harsh, gloomy atmosphere of Irish locations, the ruggedness of Owen and his hearty supporting cast, and the entertaining nonsense of a Jerry Bruckheimer production that strips battle-ready Guinevere down to leather-strap S&M gear while all the men sport full-body armor. Hail to the queen, indeed! --Jeff Shannon
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In the early Dark Ages, a band of Sarmatian knights led by half British, half Roman Lucius Artorius Castus or Arthur (Clive Owen) meet with Roman Bishop Germanius to receive their release papers after 15 years of forced service in the Roman army. They are (understandably) upset to discover that they must forego their freedom awhile longer: Rome has decided to pull out of defeating/defending the island, leaving the country and its natives vulnerable to an invasion by the Saxons. Arthur and his knights are sent on one last most dangerous of all suicide mission: to rescue a Roman family from the bloodthirsty Saxons by crossing through the perilous Woads territory (enemy natives led by mystical woodsman Merlin) and bringing them back to safety. Only when they succeed in this trial will Arthur and his knights be given their papers and allowed to return home as free men.
The honorable Arthur must do a little convincing to get his knights to agree to this last most perilous mission: after all, this band of real men is weary of fighting and ready to return home. Soon his loyal yet rough-and-tumble knights agree, and Arthur and his band (including Lancelot played by Ioan Gruffud and Galahad played by Hugh Dancy) begin their perilous journey across Britain. Along the way they encounter Merlin and his crew, who for some unknown reason let them live and pass through the haunted forest alive. After rescuing the Roman family (along with some natives in dire need), Arthur and his knights are forced to turn and fight the Saxons (who outnumber them by the handful!).They are helped by a native warrior woman Guinevere (Kiera Knightley), who ends up forcing a confrontation between Merlin and Arthur. Arthur is finally faced with the choice to return to Rome or stay and fight for Britain alongside Merlin and the lovely Guinevere.
The overall tone and feel of this film is dark, with lots of smoke and fog used in the battle scenes: although this film centers around battles and fight scenes, there is an underlying storyline that makes it entrancing and interesting.The knights are not larger-than-life heroes, chivalrous and pure legend not reality: they are real men. You cant help but cheer for Arthur and his knights as they fight against the odds to defeat the enemies of Britain and gain their own release: but when the time comes for this band of men to go home, will they go or will they stay?
For me, the new setting for the King Arthur story and the realism made for a great story. Clive Owen did a phenomenal job as King Arthur and has gained respect in my eyes: Kiera Knightley was great, as always, as the Britain-warrior-woman Guinevere (although a completely different aspect of this legendary character, it never was so over the top as to annoy me), and Ioan Gruffud as Lancelot and Hugh Dancy as Galahad were wonderful as well: in fact, I think all the actors did a good job. If you like the story of King Arthur, you will like this: from the beginning to the end, you are taken on a real-life adventure with King Arthur and the knights of the round table.
VIDEO: The unrated disc comes in a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer and it is decent. The colors come out nicely even though that is the downside of the movie. But the snow scenes are a visual feast for HDTV owners.
AUDIO: The Dolby 5.1 mix is clear and crisp but rather weak in my opinion. Nothing exceptional except for the ice battle and the smoke battle at the end.
PACKAGING / EXTRAS: The single unrated disc comes in an armary case with snap latches on the side identical to many Universal releases (We get rid of WB snapper cases, now we get these, ugh). The case also has a cardboard slipcase, which has no purpose whatsoever except to attract attention of the consumer as they wander through the DVD aisles of their local stores. This unrated edition has 13 minutes of added footage, which basically makes the battle scenes more violent. The extras are pretty basic. You get a 17 minute making of featurette, and I was happy to see that they gave Hans Zimmer a little screen time in discussing the score, unlike in Tears of the Sun, where he got none. Then there is a 15 minute discussion that includes Bruckheimer, Fuqua, Owen, Knightley, and some other actors. I thought it was pretty good, but it also seemed like fluff. There is an alternate ending that was cut due it not being recieved with open arms from test screenings. For XBOX owners you have a playable demo of the King Arthur game, and to top it off there is a feature that pops up fun facts of the production as you watch the movie. Pretty basic, but better than most discs.
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