ARTHUR THE KING – A Review by Jenn Rohm

ARTHUR THE KING – A Review by Jenn Rohm

In 2014 while competing in the Adventure Racing World Championship held in Ecuador, Swedish racer Mikael Lindnord and his team were adopted by a stray dog.  In 2016 his book Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home was published. This story, with a few changes, is now a motion picture being released in U.S. theaters on March 15, 2024.  The most noticeable changes are that the lead, captain of the team, is now Michael Light from the U.S., and the race is the 2018 event in the Dominican Republic.  Neither of these details affects the impact of the story.  This film is about believing in your dreams, coming together, all being part of the team, and the unequivocal love of an animal.

The official summary of Artur the King is:

Over the course of ten days and 435 miles, an unbreakable bond is forged between pro adventure racer Michael Light (Mark Wahlberg) and a scrappy street dog companion dubbed Arthur. Based on an incredible true story, ARTHUR THE KING follows Light, desperate for one last chance to win, as he convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes (Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Ali Suliman) for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team is pushed to their outer limits of endurance in the race, Arthur redefines what victory, loyalty and friendship truly mean.

There are certain expectations I have when I hear Mark Wahlberg’s name tied to a movie.  This is of course based on his work from the late 90’s to early 2020’s.  In the last few years, he has been choosing much more family-friendly, less adult, and gritty roles.  Respect for choosing what works for him and how he wants to represent himself.  This is a “me issue” and I will be adjusting my expectations accordingly.  The film does have a few heart-pausing moments, they are from components of the race and do not involve car chases or explosions. In the role of Michael Light, I did feel the need for something more in life, the love for his wife/family, and connection with Arthur.

Arthur is played by Ukai, “a certifiable good boy.”  There are stories that Wahlberg asked about adopting Ukai.  The unnamed trainer has a strong bond with Ukai and chose not to give him up.

Nathalie Emmanuel as Olivia does what she can within the limitations of the story and parameters of the film to bring an intelligent, tough, female competitor to the role.  From previous work I know when given the freedom to do more, she can bring more.  In this film, she is not one of the two “major” roles, and having not read the book I do not know how much of the true story she influenced.

Ali Suliman is Chik, another teammate who appears to have been added to the story to fill out the team.  I was able to pick up on some of the issues the competitors face with the physical issues of aging and the respect and friendship that is built amongst competitors along the journey.

The final member of the competitive team is Simu Liu showing more of his talents in the role of Leo, than in his 2023 big movie role as one of the “Ken”.  Finding the balance as a social media influencer to the extreme while not going so far past and being overly comical to not fit the film was successful.  We are also able to feel the struggle of waiting for the next shoe to drop based on the history between Michael and Leo and moments where trust is rebuilt.  Liu was successful in adopting Chopa, who was one of the other street dogs in the film.    

Jacques Jouffret and the cinematography team brought some stunning sites to the screen.  They showed realistic views of life in the Dominican Republic and of the races.  There is one sequence while racing on bicycles that was so realistic, that I was fearful that my vertigo was going to kick in.

The film reminded me of the emotional roller coaster that movies with animal leads always take me on.  Wish I had remembered to bring some tissue or a hankey with me.  Mine were not the only wet eyes in the audience.  It is rated PG-13 for some strong language.  I encourage Parent’s to decide if their children will respond well to the film.

To wrap it up, yes, I am glad I saw this movie.  Would I go out of my way to see it again?  Most likely not.  Do I want to meet Ukai and Chopa? YES!!  Having the ability to love on a puppy dog after would have improved the experience for me. 

*Not in the movie spoiler alert, you may skip this paragraph* I am a dog lover and wish I had known that Arthur was with the family until his passing in 2020.  Photos during the credits show a happy and healthy family that includes Arthur on their adventures.

 

Director: Simon Cellan Jones

Written By: Michael Brandt, Mikael Lindnord

Cast: Nathalie Emmanuel, Mark Wahlberg, Simu Liu, Ukai

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language.

Genres: Adventure

Selig Rating: 3 stars

Runtime: 1h 30 m

Release Date: March 15, 2024

Trailer: Arthur the King official trailer

Website: Arthur the King official website

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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