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King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword by Daniel Pemberton (Review)

posted May 4, 2017, 4:34 PM by Kaya Savas

The career of Guy Ritchie is an interesting one to follow. His ascension from directing commercials, graduating to super stylistic crime-comedies and now to studio tentpoles is pretty fascinating. His style is easily identifiable and he’s definitely an auteur with visuals. And even though he’s never been a one-composer director, his movies have seemed to garner a certain flavor from the composers who have worked with him. After a successful collaboration on The Man From U.N.C.L.E with Daniel Pemberton, the duo continue onwards on King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. And if you could just close your eyes and imagine what a King Arthur movie directed by Guy Ritchie might sound like, the score should meet those expectations.

Pemberton is a real talent, he always has been and his recent string of high-profile projects is well-deserved. His score’s have always been extremely engaging and stylistically interesting. Pemberton’s favorite composer is Ennio Morricone, so you’ll never find a shortage of Morricone homages in his scores if he can fit them in. For King Arthur, we get a superbly gritty and grand score that’s filled with lots of fascinating textures. King Arthur is in many ways structured very similarly to how The Man From U.N.C.L.E was structured musically. The score, while having a grand 3-act narrative, is built more to be the backdrop to Ritchie’s kinetic style. Looking back at Zimmer’s Sherlock Holmes scores, you’ll find that the music carried the image while with Pemberton it seems like the picture and the edit dictate more of the pacing and flow. And that’s totally fine, it’s nothing negative, just an observation. Pemberton has composed melodic pieces meant to have images built to them. The score is both small and large at the same time. Small in the way that you can hear every instrument at work, but this is not really an orchestral score. Lots of acoustic strings and percussion work to create looping melodic builds. One of the highlights of the score is the use of inhaling/exhaling on a few tracks, and kudos to the performer who probably fainted multiple times to get the right sound. This crazy use of vocals is a great way to literally make the audience feel out of breath while adding a certain intensity to the scene. It’s a great motif that works damn well and is never overused.

The score has some big moments too, it’s not all acoustic textures. There is some robustness to fill in the gaps when things get grandiose, but the music never loses its gritty nature. Percussion really does carry the narrative, and it does so whether the score is being small or extremely big. It might not be too much of a shock if some of Hans’ Sherlock scores were temped into this movie, because at times the score has that Sherlock sound but blended with that Pemberton grit. It really is a Cockney King Arthur score, and it’s extremely entertaining throughout.

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword does heavy lifting with tons of amazing acoustic textures built into these extended looping structures. The score is acoustic at heart but with an electronic polish filled with metallic brass and robust distortion. Imagine a punk rocker yelling into a microphone, and you get that peaking distortion. That’s pretty much this score except with acoustic strings, lots of percussion, cool breathing textures and big orchestral pushes here and there. Pemberton really succeeded in turning Guy Ritchie’s visual style into music, and even though it’s lacking some finesse and emotion-centered character building, the score is a blast. This is pure style over substance, but in the best way possible.