Arthur the King, Movie Review

"If you’re a dog lover, these type of movies easily pull you in and then pull on your heart strings." | Brandon's review of Arthur the King is here:

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Arthur the King is Mark Wahlberg’s best movie in recent memory. But before you get too excited…that’s not really a compliment considering his last three were The Family Plan, Me Time and Father Stu. He’s honestly not even the reason his most recent outing is a decent one. Why it’s watchable (if not totally enjoyable) is because of his co-star, a dog. Based on a true story, Michael Light (Wahlberg) is a pro adventure racer who has one last chance to win the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic after his last effort ended in disaster. This grueling 10 day, 435 mile trek will challenge Light and his team’s (Simu Liu, Ali Suliman, and Nathalie Emmanuel) endurance to the absolute extreme. However, they didn’t count on gaining another teammate: A furry, scrappy, though severely injured dog they name Arthur. A name fit for a king.

If you’re a dog lover, these type of movies easily pull you in and then pull on your heart strings. We’re suckers for the pups. All they have to be is adorable and alive at the end. That’s it. This means director Simon Cellan Jones (The Family Plan) doesn’t have to do too much and, don’t worry, he doesn’t. The storytelling is dull with cardboard characters, lead by Wahlberg doing his usual and unimpressive manly man shtick audiences have been witnessing for years. There’s a bit of excitement during the race, especially when they have to go zip lining; yet, so much of what we see the team endure is monotonous.

Even so, Arthur the King’s biggest mistake is not putting more focus and adding more depth to Arthur and his bond with Light. First off, besides a few quick scenes here and there – Arthur is barely in the first hour of the movie. I was confused as to why this is named after him. Then when Arthur and Light finally unite over a meatball lunch, what follows is standard dog chow with no real emotion involved.

Jones attempts to build this newfound, indestructible friendship between man and man’s best friend throughout the race with Arthur and Light pushing through the pain and suffering together, showing off their perseverance in the process. They were meant to be together, dammit! The issue is none of that translates well on-screen. It’s neither shown nor felt in an effective way to make their journey to each other feel remotely special, resulting in Arthur the King never earning its predictably heartwarming ending. In spite of this, we will still get misty-eyed for the sole reason I mentioned earlier: We’re suckers for pups.

Brandon Vick is a member of The Music City Film Critics’ Association and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and the star of The Vick’s Flicks Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.

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