King Arthur: Director's Cut Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Director's Cut of King Arthur comes to Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video presentation, in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. Detail is generally very good, with both the landscape shots and close-ups having good clarity, although some of the middle-distance shots - normally those in low-level lighting - not looking quite as impressive, and even displaying some level of softness. Still, for the most part, there are some solid visual depictions, with no sign whatsoever of print damage. The colour scheme is very British - lots of luscious greens and sumptuous crimson reds, with a few nice sunrises and sunsets, but a palette otherwise almost totally devoid of clear blue skies and sunshine. It's all clouds and snow and rain and windy, cold weather. But hey, at least the gorgeous green landscapes still look fab. Blacks are reasonably solid, but the night-time sequences are generally the weakest, with the Merlin encounter remaining a low point in the visual depiction. There is also some horrendous colour bleeding on the opening credits, which has to be seen to be believed. An, at times stellar, at times lacklustre visual presentation for this movie on Blu-ray.
SoundTo accompany the movie we get a much more potent soundtrack, in the Dolby 5.1 Uncompressed PCM format. Dialogue, from the varying rough Brit accents (apart from Lady Keira) to the incomprehensible shouts and the Saxon leader's gruff mumbles, comes keenly presented, mainly from the frontal array (although the Army cheers get a bit more surround coverage). Effects range from the whizzing arrows to the slashing and clashing swords, from the drum of marching armies to the clopping of galloping horses, and give the surrounds plenty more to do, but it is the reasonably rousing score that really empowers the track. The passionate theme rallies audiences as much as it can during the more dramatic, confrontational sequences and the louder moments in the soundtrack allows for some decent bass use as well (normally from the beating of drums or the thunder of footsteps/horses in battles). Overall the aural presentation is much more impressive than the visual one on this Blu-ray release.
ExtrasAll of the extras that you will have found on the previously released DVD rendition of the Director's Cut of King Arthur have been ported over to this High Definition Blu-ray version. First up we get a full length Audio Commentary by the Director Antoine Fuqua. Although he could be regarded as quiet and contemplative, he actually comes across as boring, with little to say about this epic movie, although he does appear to have something so say about all of the actors involved. He offers little depth into the real history behind this story and, all too often, appears to be just silently watching the movie rather than commenting.
Blood on the Land: Forging King Arthur runs at a little over a quarter of an hour and is a purported Making-Of Documentary. As disappointing as the Commentary, it rarely delves deeply into the construction of this production, although it does paint a nice picture of the camaraderie between the cast and crew that appeared to hold everything together. King Arthur: A Roundtable Discussion is a fifteen minute cast and filmmaker roundtable chat featuring the Director as well as stars Clive Owen, Keira Knightley and Ioan Gruffudd, who provide a much more interesting offering when compared to the stretched-out commentary. It's clear that, put together, this group comes alive, and whilst it's not that informative, it is still a good listen.
Alternate Ending “Badou Hill” with Optional Director's Commentary is actually quite an interesting offering, making for a much darker alternative to the Hollywood ending that was provided on the final cut. There is also a Producer's Photo Gallery and a vaguely interesting “Knight Vision” Pop-Up Trivia Track which offers a little more information on the history, the legend and the production. Finally there's that patronising Movie Showcase gimmick which does not trust viewers to know which are the most powerful scenes that can show off their home cinema system.
VerdictKing Arthur is a resounding disappointment, making you yearn for the days of myth and Excalibur. Still, if you expect the worst, you're likely to still find things to enjoy over its two-and-a-half-hour action-adventure runtime. It's Tears of the Sun, with swords, and that gives it some value in terms of popcorn fun. The video presentation is more good than bad, the audio superior, and we get all of the DVD extras ported over to this Blu-ray release. Fans should consider this a worthy High Definition upgrade, but newcomers should probably consider a rental first.
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