starring Clive Owen, Kiera Knightley, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen Dillane
screenplay by David Franzoni
directed by Antoine Fuqua
by Walter Chaw King Arthur wants to have it both ways. It wants to be smart and it wants to be stupid, too. It wants to appeal to eggheads, so it opens with a title card that promises what follows is based on "new" archaeological evidence; then, for the alleged delight of the peanut gallery, it trots out the same period epic dog-and-pony show to which we've been repeatedly subjected since Zulu Dawn. Strangely enough, this new archaeological evidence apparently dates feminism back to the fifth century (witness the dominatrix version of Guinevere, decked out at one point like Grace Jones), in addition to facilitating a clumsy political satire of twenty-first century America's religiosity, arrogance, and imperialism. Needless to say, when something tries to please everyone, everyone is seldom pleased; King Arthur is both stupid and boring, and the revelation that, stripped of tragedy, controversy, and resonance, Arthurian legend is as banal as and similar to Tears of the Sun (director Antoine Fuqua's previous film) displeases indeed.