While we patiently await the release of director David Lowery's epic looking medieval fantasy nightmare The Green Knight, several reviews are now in, praising the movie as a modern classic. Based on the Arthurian poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the movie stars Dev Patel as the questing Knight and has so far been very well-received. Based on the early reactions, The Green Knight could quite easily emerge as not only one of the best of the year, but perhaps one of the best cinematic feats of all time.
Beginning with Den of Geek, who gifted The Green Knight a stellar 4.5/5, the critic praised Lowery's vision as one of the greatest adaptations to ever come from Arthurian legend.
"The Green Knight is thus both a student of the past and a well-meaning raider of it; this is a film which will honor a story J.R.R. Tolkien singled out as one of the greatest works of English literature, as well as gracefully deconstruct it. There's a singular, faintly mad vision at play in Lowery's The Green Knight, and it's led to one of the best films ever adapted from Arthurian lore."
The Guadian meanwhile found The Green Knight to be a very worthwhile watch, comparing the grey areas on display to the often more black-and-white depiction of superhero franchise filmmaking.
"At a time when Hollywood has become obsessed with one-dimensional portrayals of superheroism, it's a balm to see a director working in a similarly epic register to expose the fault lines of our adopted mythologies. Leisurely but never lugubrious, the film gives grounds for Gawain's conflicted ambitions by placing him in a primeval realm matching his sought-after stature."
Rather than once again leaning on the sword fighting action of other Arthurian adaptations, IGN found The Green Knight to be an atmospheric trip that is all about the experience itself rather than the story.
"The Green Knight is truly astounding. Defying the standards for Arthurian legend adaptations, it heavily favors atmosphere and mood over action and monologues. Substantial performances marry with director David Lowery's sumptuous style to create a film that is sensational, less about story than the experience. If you can get on the wavelength of such an artful quest, you'll be rewarded. Once you've found that footing, The Green Knight is a heart-rattling, loins-riling, and head-spinning trip that packs a profound punch."
IndieWire also gave the movie 4.5/5, and found the old school tale to be a modern, personal story wonderfully buried underneath fantastical heavy metal and folklore.
"Hypnotic from its fiery start to its gut-punch of a finale and polished with a hint of heavy metal that makes the whole thing shimmer in the darkness like a black light poster in the basement of your friend's parents' house, "The Green Knight" might ride into theaters on 600 years' worth of unsettled history, but Lowery makes it feel brand new by re-saddling it as a personal story about someone who's just trying to become the kind of man he can live with, even if it kills him."
Critics from both RogerEbert.com and Variety felt transported by The Green Knight, with the former calling the movie "[A] mesmerizing journey guided by Lowery's incredibly poetic eye, career-best work from Dev Patel, and an artistic sensibility that transports audiences to another world." The latter meanwhile was happy to be swept along on the moving, sometimes baffling journey, with the review concluding, "I got caught up in it (to a point). I was, in the end, moved by it. I was also, at moments, slightly baffled by it. But I saw how it added up, and I was glad to go with it."
Many of the reviews and reactions so far have heaped praise on Dev Patel's career-defining central performance, with Polygon commending The Green Knight for finally giving the actor a chance to prove his leading man status.
"Lowery more than catches an attentive audience's attention with this film. His dazzling visuals, brilliant spectacle, and petrifying sequences are enrapturing. Likewise, Patel finally lays claim to the leading-man mantle so often bequeathed to him, yet so rarely earned. His career-defining performance should establish him as an actor made for big, grand epics. Lowery's The Green Knight is cinema's best Arthurian adaptation, which may matter only to literary scholars. Everyone else will have to settle for it being one of the best movies of 2021."
Likewise, The Hollywood Reporter applauded all of the performances, singling out Patel for his undeniable screen presence and director David Lowery for his unique approach to the age old tale.
"The actors across the board are strong, notably [Alicia] Vikander, [Sarita] Choudhury and [Sean] Harris, but this is Patel's film and he commands every scene. His path from the dissolute libertine of the opening, wild and sexy, to the burdened man who embraces his fate with solemn maturity is a riveting transformation. And Lowery writes a novel ending that allows us to see in a moving vision the fork in Gawain's destiny represented by his arrival at the Green Chapel."
Written, edited, produced, and directed by David Lowery, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur's reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.
Featuring an all-star cast that includes the likes of Alicia Vikander as Lady/Esel, Joel Edgerton as Lord, Sarita Choudhury as Mother/Morgan Le Fay, Sean Harris as King Arthur, Kate Dickie as Queen Guinevere and Ralph Ineson as the Green Knight alongside Dev Patel, The Green Knight is scheduled to be released in the United States on July 30, 2021, by A24. So far, it sounds like a very worthy quest indeed.