Arthur the King

Arthur the King (2024)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Drama, Sports & Recreation, Nature  |   Release Date - Mar 15, 2024 (USA)  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Jocelyn DeVore

Adventure racer Mikael (Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter) hasn't raced in three years, after his enthusiasm and determination pushed his team to an unfortunate loss. One that is plastered all over the internet. But he's ready to make a comeback. He is accompanied by an Instagram influencer and fellow adventure runner Leo (Simu Liu, Barbie); Olivia, a rock climber and daughter of a famed adventure racer (Nathalie Emmanuel, The Invitation); and navigator Chik (Ali Suliman, The Kingdom) who has an injured knee. Leaving behind his wife (Juliet Rylance, Sinister) and daughter (Cece Valentina, Kung Fu Panda 4), Mikael and his team head to the Dominican Republic where they are tasked with racing through 435 miles of jungles, mountains, and rivers.

The race is an arduous one and is filled with unexpected stumbles, injuries, and terrain. But while they can prepare for some of those, what they don't prepare for is another member: a scruffy stray dog (played by Ukai), determined to make the group his new pack. The entire world watches and roots for this five-member team as they hit obstacle after obstacle. Do they have a chance at first place? And will they even be able to cross the finish line alive?

Directed by Simon Cellan Jones, Arthur the King is based on the true story of Mikael Lindnord, adapted from the book, Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home. There are some creative liberties taken, including locations. The Lindord family calls Sweden home, not Colorado. The race didn't actually take place in the Dominican Republic, but in Ecuador. However, the heart of the story is kept intact.

The script is adequately written with both an overarching obstacle (the treacherous race) and smaller more personal troubles. Each of the characters has something to fight for. Leo wants to prove that he is more than just an Instagram influencer. Chik was dumped by his old team (who is also aiming for first place) and wants to bring home a win so he can build a good life for his family. Olivia is struggling with and carrying a sad prognosis through the entire race. Mikael wants to end his career with at least one first place trophy so he can make a name for himself. Even Arthur wants to prove himself as a loyal and determined pack member. Most of these issues are dealt with in one way or another throughout the entire movie.

However, there are important moments which are either glazed over or missed entirely. While an event as arduous as this one would certainly bring a group of people together, the movie handled hurdles with Hollywood-level efficiency.

With a somewhat slow start and a few sudden transitions in plot, Arthur the King falters at its pacing at times. However, once the race starts, the audience is right there with the team as they battle through hazardous South American jungles.

Casting was well done, as apparent by the images of the actual Lindnord family shown during the credits. In addition, the entire cast does an amazing job in their roles. Wahlberg portrays Mikael as a determined, strong, and motivated athlete and family man, albeit a little stubborn. Emmanuel's Olivia looks like she has sadness behind that 1000-yard stare. Liu is both lovable and frustrating as Leo. Suliman depicts Chik's resolve and purpose wonderfully. Not to mention, Ukai (as Arthur) will certainly win hearts all over the world.

There is definite character development in the part of Mikael which is both heartbreaking and inspiring to watch. If animal lovers and moviegoers are looking for an inspirational film which will tug at heartstrings, Arthur the King will fit the bill.