Arthur the King Review

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Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis:

Mark Wahlberg returns with another feel good movie. This time he has a canine companion to accompany him on the adventure. He plays Michael, a competitive man who seeks to win his first race. He must endure long runs, hikes, kayaking trips, and the natural dangers of the terrain. While he and his team compete, they encounter a stray dog that saves their lives. Through difficulties along the way, the dog proves to be more than just a companion. He helps Michael and his team appreciate the community involved within the competition. 

Positives:

“Arthur the King” will likely hit all of the expected notes. It features an underdog story with a pet, which is enough to satisfy those looking for a feel good story. I enjoyed seeing that the story was largely true. Mark Wahlberg is an enjoyable screen presence as usual, even if his character isn’t the most likable. An underdog story where people have to come together always has something to enjoy. Arthur is such a lovable addition to their team. His presence in the movie makes it worth watching, even as someone who’s not a dog person like myself (I’m allergic). 

There are some wonderful shots of the natural scenery. The pretty landscapes and breathtaking terrain help us understand the kind of competition the characters are in. There are a handful of events that are really exciting too. There is a climbing sequence towards the beginning of the film that is very well shot. The fact that two of the characters were having a regular conversation while being that high up is crazy! But the most impressive scene in the film was the ziplining sequence. It was very tense and well shot. Hats off to the filmmakers for capturing this event so well.

Negatives:

It’s a bummer saying this, but “Arthur the King” is underwhelming. I wasn’t expecting this to be an awards contender, but I was hoping for an authentic feel good story. From the get go, the story was presented in a strange way. We see Michael and his team at the beginning of the film as their relationship deteriorates. Very quickly, most of them are presented as jerks. After that, three years go by and Michael is determined to get into another competition. The way he gets his team together is very awkward. It feels like the logic and time taken to do this is rushed. We get the cliffnotes version of his efforts, making the team development feel hollow. There isn’t much of a connection between Michael and his team. It gradually gets better throughout the film but never hits home. The cast gives adequate performances but none of them stand out. Just in general, the characters are nothing to write home about.

But to add to my frustrations with the characters, there is a reveal about the sponsorship of the event that Michael shares with a friend, completely ruining his character. He seems even more egotistical and selfish after this. I found it hard to root for him after he shared this information, so it undercuts his relationship with Arthur and the victories they achieve. It was hard to look past this. One of his teammates is also a narcissistic instagram icon who is just as bad as Michael. He is more interested in taking selfies at every corner and showing off rather than enjoying the journey. He was a tough character to root for as well. The rest of the cast is okay but they aren’t developed enough to care much about. Once their competition concludes, the story rapidly changes and becomes a mission about saving Arthur. This has a drastically different tone than the rest of the movie and feels quite jarring. By the end, I felt that this was a mishmash of a film with strange execution.

Conclusion:

While there is some enjoyment to be had, “Arthur the King” is a disappointment. What could have been an inspirational true story about a man connecting to a dog is mainly about a group of unlikable people who are doing this competition for all the wrong reasons. Sure, they try to redeem the characters by the end…but I don’t think their evolution is strong enough to warrant our support. I’d say hold off on this one until streaming if it is of interest, but missing it altogether won’t be a problem. There are other stories like this that are a much better watch.