King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Ultra HD Review

Ralph Potts reviews this reimaging of the classic tale of King Arthur and Excalibur, as told by visionary director Guy Ritchie.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

87

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 126 minutes
Genre: Action/Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Eric Bana
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Music by: Daniel Pemberton
Written by: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 8, 2017

“Raised on the Streets. Born to be King”

My Take:

When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.

There have been many films based on the subject matter featured in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. This is a more or less modern take on the story of Arthur, his legacy, and the might of Excalibur. To be honest, there is little about it that is reminiscent of the tale, perhaps that it what I found to be its most interesting element. It’s not a particularly good film, narratively speaking, but I think it does take liberties that peel away the old timey feel that you would expect from a King Arthur story. If the intent here was to come up with something in that vein then I would say that Guy Ritchie and company have done exactly that.

In addition to the mythical power of Excalibur, there is magic, betrayal, and fantastical creatures. Merlin gets only a casual mention, but in his place, are the Maj, possessors of powers of their own, which in this case are used to assist Arthur. The villain isn’t drawn very well, coming across as only power hungry, and willing to do absolutely anything to get, and keep it. This leaves him less interesting which only adds to the disjointedness of the various elements that make up the plot. There is a plethora of characters, none of which feel fully fleshed out, this includes Arthur himself.

I don’t know, I would like to say that I am clearly in the didn’t like it camp, but the truth is that, I found it to be entertaining on some level. Definitely of the popcorn flick variety, where we can overlook narrative flaws in favor of decent production elements and a bit of fun butt kicking. The butt kicking wasn’t quite enough though, and at over two hours there wasn’t enough story to support the subject matter. I like Charlie Hunnam, June Law, Aidan Gillen, and Djimon Hounsou, which probably helped. Those who don’t care for Guy Ritchie’s particular brand of filmmaking need not apply, as this has him all over it from a visual perspective. At the end of the day King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is more miss than hit, but could find an audience with forgiving genre fans.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

The rating is for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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Dolby Atmos Rating: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
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Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 59 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 4.6 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was derived from a 3.4K source, and rendered from a 2K DI. I received King Arthur: Legend of the Sword on Blu-ray and Ultra HD a day apart and watched it on Blu-ray one evening and Ultra HD the next. The high definition experience was fresh in my mind which helped when making comparisons.

The 1080p transfer for King Arthur looks terrific, and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, emboldened contrast, both light and dark, and a noticeably sharper image. This is readily apparent in the opening sequence with the attack on Camelot, followed by the meeting in the castle. Close ups of the costumes and interior walls of the castle’s rooms reveal oodles of fine detail and abounding textures. Primary colors are pleasingly rich while whites appear gradational and punchy. Wide angle shots of the landscapes, CG sets/backgrounds and interiors of the cave haven, forestlands, and rustic dwellings looked excellent.

I liked the application of HDR as well. It was more-subtle, than up front, but added an enriching dimension to the imagery when called upon. One of the best examples of the presentation’s combination of HDR and detail comes during the encounter atop the tower in chapter 11. The flashes of fire and arcing white light from the clashes of weapons shines brilliantly, as the dueling figures duke it out against the dark background which remains delineated while appearing richly dark. The variety of scenes shot in the low light of the castle, and cave, with sunlight cascading through, are equally rewarding. The film utilizes sepia, autumn schemed color and an overall cooler chromatic aesthetic that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos mix I found it to be of the less aggressive variety, with respect to use of the entire platform, which considering the source material, was a bit disappointing. This soundtrack contains an abundance of elements that would allow for a busier object based mix with respect to the overhead channels. In general, its use of audio objects placed above is limited to atmospherics and occasional panning fills. I would say that where applied it’s done to good effect, and creates a fair level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. As an enthusiast, I appreciate a well-crafted sound mix that draws me into the onscreen elements, regardless of where the sounds are emanating from. This mix is fair, and incorporates a correlated and broad soundstage where effects swirl, shift and traverse the listening area. I think that this Dolby Atmos mix would have benefitted from more active use of immersive sounds which in turn would have enhanced the source material.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Atmos core) soundtrack has good dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass and dynamic impact associated with the action based sequences. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Blu-ray
    • Arthur with Swagger – Charlie Hunnam is a gentleman, a hunk and a rebel, setting new standards as king and new rules with the ladies.
    • Sword from the Stone – Director Guy Ritchie as he breathes 21st Century life and luster into England’s most iconic legend and he creates Camelot for a new audience!
    • Parry and Bleed – Charlie Hunnam and other cast members get a crash course in swordplay. Vikings versus Saxons style!
    • Building on the Past – Londinium comes to life with a new design of Medieval Urban life, built from scratch.
    • Inside the Cut: The Action of King Arthur – Join stunt choreographer Eunice Huthart as she teams with Director Guy Ritchie to create the mind-blowing action of King Arthur
    • Camelot in 93 Days – Friendships and romances strengthen and fray as the realities of a 93 day shoot set in.
    • Legend of Excalibur – The world’s most famous sword is brought to life for a new generation.
    • Scenic Scotland – Wrapping a monumental production on location in glorious Scotland.
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a modern action spin that fails to capture the grandeur of its subject, however, depending on your ability to look past its conceptual shortcomings, it might just have a bit to offer. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring excellent Ultra HD video quality, solid lossless surround sound, including a Dolby Atmos immersive mix, and a fan friendly supplemental package. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is best left as an Ultra HD/Blu-ray rental. Just remember to keep expectations in check, and you might find it to be a fair time passer when you’re up for a little popcorn entertainment.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package