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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Arthur the King"

It’s no secret that I am always up for any kind of movie that features heroic animals doing heroic animal things.  I remember seeing the trailer for Arthur the King a while back and being intrigued, but it felt like it got pushed back quite a bit during the strike, and that could either be a good thing or a bad thing.  Honestly, after seeing it I have a mixed bag of feelings.


Based on a true story, Mark Wahlberg plays Mikael Lindnord, a famous athlete in endurance racing who flames out after a bad decision costs his team dearly.  Out of the sport for a few years, his wife (Juliet Rylance) convinces him to give it one more shot, even against the odds on every level.  From finances to putting together a team (Simu Lu, Ali Suliman, and Nathalie Emmanuel), he barely makes it to the event.  As things get under way, they meet up with a stray dog that not only “adopts” the team but seems to understand the rugged Dominican Republic terrain in a way that helps keep them in the race but even saves them a couple of times.  As the race proceeds, their bond becomes more than any of them had anticipated.


On one hand, this is a very entertaining film.  I am leaving the word “family” out of this because although it has a great message, there is a level of adult language that is unnecessary other than to just “be there”.  For the teens and up, this might not be a bad thing, but for the younger ones perhaps not.  The third act also is a rollercoaster that those younger ones may find too intense.  By the time the credits rolled, I found myself entertained and fully on-board for the ride.


On the other hand, this script could have used a lot of work to streamline this story.  I understand the need to connect with the backstory of Arthur specifically, but director Simon Cellan Jones (who also works with Wahlberg in The Family Plan and has done A LOT of television) seems to feel the need to tell Arthur and Mikael’s stories in parallel.  I have seen films that can do this well, but here it seems to drag down the narrative itself.  Also, the race itself takes two-thirds of the film’s total run time which also seems unnecessary.  The deeper the race gets, the more the story picks up its pace but that also seems a bit too-little-too-late in how the story unfolds.  The aforementioned third act acts like rush hour traffic with a speed-up/slow-down pace that seems like it doesn’t know which details to include and not include in the story itself.


Arthur the King (take that middle word out and I dare any Gen X-er to not say it in a British accent like John Cleese) is not by any stretch a bad film.  Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the film for what it is, but it is also not a film that I can honestly say I would go out of my way to put in heavy rotation.  For parents, I would say to see it without the full family first and then make the judgement call as to whether to include everyone at that point.

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