One of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Antoine Fuqua's "slick, super-serious" King Arthur fell short of expectations, performing badly at the box office and befuddling critics. Mixing British and Roman legend, Clive Owen stars as Arthur, an embittered warrior who leads a band of mercenaries on a mission to free Britain from Saxon invasion. Oh, and Keira Knightley prances about half-naked waving a spear...
Cut To The Bone
This Director's Cut of the film contains an extra 17 minutes of horrific blood-letting, severed limbs, and decapitation, which was originally excised to secure a 12a rating for its theatrical release. (Blame über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.) It does nothing to bolster the plot, although the battle scenes are at least a little more realistic. Unfortunately the aura of authenticity is still fatally marred by the sight of Knightley charging against a flurry of arrows in a leather bra.
Cast and crew talk about the challenges of making an epic in Blood On The Land, a featurette that hurriedly skims over all aspects of production. There's a good amount of behind-the-scenes footage though, with Fuqua wandering about verdant hills with a pensive expression - perhaps silently cursing Bruckheimer. Naturally Jerry talks a lot while saying nothing and Owen, as usual, takes the whole thing rather too seriously. Still the supporting cast provide a few laughs with pretty boy Ioan Gruffud explaining, "Lancelot loves Arthur," quickly adding, "as a friend!" Meanwhile Ray Winstone bemoans having to spend 75% of the film on horseback. "I understand now why John Wayne walked the way he did," he grouches.
The Bitter End
Disappointingly Fuqua doesn't provide a commentary for the film, although he does so for a four-minute alternate ending. It's a laughably downbeat climax with Merlin (Stephen Dillane) banging on about cruel fate as the bodies of the war dead are cremated. Still, it's better than what exists in the final cut, which was, as Fuqua explains, the result of test screenings. He can barely hide the contempt when he says, "People wanted to see a wedding, or a happy ending of some sort." (That'd be Bruckheimer again, then.)
Aside from a photo gallery and a sneak peek at the upcoming Nicolas Cage actioner National Treasure (produced by Bruckheimer of course), that's it for this DVD. For a king, it's a measly entourage of extras.