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Arthur the King

Arthur the King




Rated PG-13 - for some strong language.
Director: Simon Cellan Jones
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Simu Liu, Juliet Rylance, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ali Suliman, Ukai, Bear Grylls
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: March 15, 2024
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 28, 2024 (Amazon.com)


READER RATING:   


Plot Summary

An adventure racer adopts a stray dog named Arthur to join him in an epic endurance race. (from IMDB)


Film Review

Biopics are a tricky thing - especially inspirational ones. Arthur the King, starring Mark Wahlberg, is based on a 2016 book called "Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home." The story tells of how a stray dog tagged along with a group of adventure racers and became a part of, not only the racing team, but the team leader's family. In the movie, Wahlberg portrays Michael Light, an aging American adventure racer, who is based on the real life Mikael Lindnord, a Swedish adventure racer. This is just one of the many changes made to the story to help it come to life in dramatic fashion for the big screen.

Arthur the King
While Arthur the King looks like a dog movie, and was kind of marketed as one, it's more so about Michael and his struggles to make a name for himself as an adventure racer before he retires from racing permanently. It's not until well into their race through the Dominican Republic that they pick up their furry little shadow. The last act of the film is about getting Arthur back to the States, and while it's a big tonal shift from the rest of the film, it sticks the landing of the emotional impact of the story.

A quick Google search comparing the real life story to the cinematic dramatization reveals that a lot was changed from real life to the screen. From the ethnicity and personas of the team members, to the location of the race (which was originally Ecuador), to even the year it took place -- 2016 (real life) vs. 2018 (the movie), there are quite a few differences. While I understand that sometimes real life doesn't have all the makings of a good cinematic piece, it can still be disappointing when you realize a story based on true events deviates substantially from its source material. Granted, in this case, the real life Mikael supposedly did have a say in the way the story was translated to film, so it doesn't exactly seem like the wool was pulled over the athlete's eyes, so to speak.

Arthur the King
Historical inaccuracies aside, as a film, Arthur the King is a decent sports drama. It gets off to a bit of a bumpy start, to be honest, as it all has an air of a low budget indie film -- all the way down to Juliet Rylance's shmaltzy performance as Michael's wife, Helena. (To be fair, Rylance does improve as the story goes on, though. And it's probably more so the script's or direction's fault than her performance.) If it weren't for Wahlberg being present, it would mostly feel like a TV movie, but once the story hits the trail in the Dominican Republic, it finally finds its footing. The chemistry between Wahlberg, Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Ali Suliman as a team makes it easy to care about, and root for, them. And, of course, if you're a dog (or animal) lover, Arthur brings plenty to the table as well. And I have to say, the dog - whose name in real life is Ukai - can certainly act. While movies these days, like 2020's Call of the Wild, often rely on fully digital animals to portray a character as desired for a movie, it was refreshing to see an actual, real dog here. This significant detail helps keep the film grounded and, in a way, gritty.

Once the story is in full sprint through the Dominican Republic, there isn't a dull moment. If you like sports films or wilderness adventure flicks, Arthur the King should be right up your alley. There is plenty of danger and perseverance to interest and inspire viewers. I'm actually completely new to the concept of adventure racing - at least in this capacity, so I found this interesting in the sense that I was experiencing something new as I was watching events unfold.

Arthur the King
Arthur the King has all the makings of a family film, but the movie shies away from it with the constant, relentless use of profanity throughout. I can understand if the filmmakers were aiming for a sense of reality to the storytelling, but it still felt excessive and unnecessary - especially if it's something you'd want to watch with the family. For starters, Olivia says the "F" word under her breath during a dangerous moment, and Michael emphatically uses the profanity later in the movie. In addition, there are at least 30 uses of the "S" word, and some blasphemy, like "J-sus" and "g*dd*mn," although infrequent. Aside from seeing a gross scab on Arthur's side, we see a couple close-ups of a bleeding wound on Olivia's heel with a flap of skin hanging off that she proceeds to rip off. It's definitely gross for the more queasy viewer.

Overall, Arthur the King is a decent inspirational sports drama. Sure, it might not be the most accurate, historically speaking, but it works well as a dramatic retelling of a real life event that encourages us to fight and persevere through the life's toughest trials.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/23/24)

 

Blu-Ray Special Features Review


Arthur the King is now available on digital and releases on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 28, 2024 (It is not available on disc in 4K UHD, but you can buy it digitally in 4K). The Blu-Ray combo pack includes the Blu-Ray disc, a DVD, and a Fandango at Home (formerly VUDU) digital copy in HD. The movie includes the following extras:

  • Fandango at Home Exclusive Featurette – “Adventure Racing: On Set”
  • Blu-ray™ + DVD Special Features:
    • Audio Commentary with Director Simon Cellan Jones and Author Mikael Lindnord
    • Audio Commentary with Producers Tucker Tooley and Tessa Tooley
    • Audio Commentary with Producer Mark Canton and Executive Producer Dorothy Canton
    • “Finding Arthur” featurette
    • “A Love Letter to Arthur” featurette
    • “A Dog’s Journey: Making Arthur the Kingfeaturette
    • Mark Wahlberg and Best Friends Animal Society
    • Theatrical Trailer

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: We see Helena alone on the phone in bed wearing a top that dips low in the front and shows some cleavage.
. Vulgarity/Language: At least 2 "F" words, 30 "S" words, 1 "J-sus," 14 "h*ll," 1 "g*dd*mn," 7 "d*mn," 1 "*ssh*le," 3 "*ss," 1 "cr*p," 1 "b*tch," 4 "Oh my G-d," 4 "Oh G-d," 1 "G-d," 1 "My G-d," 1 "nuts," 1 "balls"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Lyrics in a song that plays say something like "that's what's in my joint, that's what I'm puffing"
. Blood/Gore: Arthur has some blood on his fur on his side; We see an extreme closeup of Olivia's heel wear a thick, white flap of skin is hanging off the back of her heel and we see the bloody wound as well. She then tears off the flap of skin, fully revealing the bloody wound, and then we see it a third time as she applies a cream to it; One of the characters suddenly throws up (and we see the vomit come out of their mouth when they bend over); We see the blood on the side of Arthur's fur a couple more times; We see an ugly scab on Arthur's side that is infected and "infested" underneath."
. Violence: During an arduous adventure racing trek, a man collapses; Vicious dogs chase Arthur through the streets; While ziplining from one cliff to another, one of the racers gets stuck dangling on the wire. It's an intense sequence where two racers struggle to get one another safely across a vast chasm to the other side; One of the team fall/trip on something; Arthur growls at the team viciously to warn them of impending danger; Olivia rips a flap of skin off her heel; One of the characters suddenly throws up (and we see the vomit come out of their mouth when they bend over); Arthur begins to drown when he jumps in the water to swim after the kayak. Michael rescues him in time, though; The ending deals heavily with Arthur being sick and on the verge of dying.

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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