King Arthur appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A fairly early Blu-ray release, the image seemed spotty at best.
Sharpness became a definite issue. While close-ups looked acceptable, two-shots and anything wider tended to lack real definition. Though the movie didn’t appear terribly soft, it came across as a bit mushy and without the delineation I expected.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no print flaws. However, I noticed light edge haloes and the image could appear a little blocky. I also saw mild digital artifacts.
In a cinematic world full of teal-tinted films, King Arthur stands as one of the tealest. Dear God, did this image emphasize blue-green!
Skin tones could be orange, but teal led the way. The color choices became almost comic in their extremity, and the teal didn’t look very good, as the general iffiness of the transfer made the hues lackluster at best.
Blacks seemed a bit too dark, as they swallowed up detail, and shadows were also affected, so low-light shots demonstrated lackluster delineation. In truth, this wasn’t a terrible presentation, but it was below the standards I expect from Blu-ray.
At least the film’s Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack worked better. The movie’s variety of action films fared best, as they used the five channels in a satisfying manner. These put battle elements in all the speakers to combine for a lively, engrossing setting.
Quieter segments appeared good as well. General atmosphere came across as natural and consistent, with a sense of place that suited the story. Music also gave us positive stereo imaging.
Audio quality satisfied. Music sounded bold and lush, while effects came across as accurate and dynamic, with solid low-end response. Dialogue seemed concise and intelligible. This turned into a well-reproduced soundtrack.
With that we go to the set’s extras, and these launch with an audio commentary from director Antoine Fuqua. He provides a running, screen-specific look at how he came onto the project and his approach to the material, research, history and the adaptation of the legend, story/characters, sets and locations, stunts/action, editing and ratings issues, cast and performances, music and connected domains.
While inconsistent, Fuqua usually provides a pretty good chat. He touches on a nice variety of subjects and gets into the movie challenges. At times he praises those involved too much, and we hit spots of dead air, but much of the commentary satisfies.
Next comes a featurette called Blood on the Land: Forging King Arthur. It goes for 17 minutes, 10 seconds and offers notes from Fuqua, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, historical consultant John Matthews, screenwriter David Franconi, production designer Dan Weil, prop maker Graeme Byrd, supervising armourer Tommy Dunne, costume designer Penny Rose, stunt coordinator Steve Dent, military advisor Harry Humphries, dialogue coach Mel Churcher, director of photography Slawomir Idziak, visual effects supervisor Matt Johnson, lead digital matte painter David Early, digital effects supervisor Dottie Starling, VFX sequence supervisor Douglas Harsch, composer Hans Zimmer, and actors Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Ioan Gruffudd, Stellan Skarsgaard, Ray Winstone, Joel Edgerton, Mads Mikkelsen, and Ray Stevenson.
“Forging” looks at history/legends, story, characters and tone, Fuqua’s approach to the material, cast and performances, sets and locations, props and costumes, stunts and action, cinematography, effects and music. While “Forging” covers a nice array of topics, it tends to be fairly superficial. It’s still worth a look but it’s too brief to offer substance.
A Cast and Filmmaker Roundtable runs 15 minutes, one second and involves Fuqua, Bruckheimer, Franzoni, Owen, Knightley, Gruffudd, and actor Hugh Dancy. The chat covers the project’s roots, cast, characters and performances, various challenges, stunts, action and battle scenes. Like “Forging”, some information emerges, but the “Roundtable” focuses so much on praise that it lacks much depth.
Called “Badon Hill”, we see an Alternate Ending. It lasts four minutes, 13 seconds and shows a more somber/darker finale. It doesn’t improve the movie but it offers an intriguing alternative.
“Badon Hill” can be viewed with or without commentary from Fuqua. He tells us why he changed the film’s finish. Fuqua doesn’t let us know much, but it does become clear he prefers the alternate ending to the theatrical one.
Knight Vision delivers a trivia track that runs during the movie. It tells us production facts as well as some of the history behind the story. Nothing remarkable shows up here, but “Knight Vision” adds some informational value.
Finally, we find a Producer’s Photo Gallery. This presents 20 pictures that Bruckheimer shot during the production. It’s mediocre.
The disc opens with ads for Deja Vu, Apocalypto, The Guardian, Invincible and The Prestige. No trailer for King Arthur appears here.
With 2004’s King Arthur, we get a grittier version of the ancient legend. Unfortunately, this doesn’t become especially interesting, so the movie winds up as a slow, plodding affair. The Blu-ray comes with flawed visuals, good audio and a decent smattering of bonus materials. King Arthur lacks the depth and power to succeed.
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