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‘Arthur The King’ is Worth Every Tear for Dog Lovers

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There’s something about dogs in major motion pictures that sucker-punches me in the gut the older I get. The first film I saw that predominantly featured a canine that wasn’t a children’s comedy was Marley and Me. Those who have seen that film know how emotionally charged that film is, which left me in a puddle of tears. Since that infamously sad, but equally good film, countless others have come and gone, tugging on my heartstrings with those big puppy dog eyes, melting my heart. Arthur The King is the first such film that I’ve seen since I got my pandemic puppy almost four years ago. I knew the tears would flow freely by the end of the film, but I didn’t expect the puddle I would become by the time the credits rolled.

Directed by Simon Cellan Jones (The Family Plan), Arthur The King is written by Michael Brandt who previously wrote 2 Fast 2 Furious as well as creator of Chicago Fire, and developer of subsequent series Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med.

Based on a true story, Arthur the King stars Mark Wahlberg, Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Juliet Rylance. And of course, we can’t forget the reason we’ve all come to see this film, our furry four-legged friend, Ukai, who plays Arthur, a lost dog who finds a family. Arthur The King should be at the top of your list to see in theaters, as the story is larger than life, with so much heart, a television screen just won’t do it justice. 

[Warning: Mild spoilers from Arthur The King are below!]

Wahlberg’s Michael Light is looking for redemption in Arthur the King

Life has not been kind to Michael Light (Wahlberg), who has always tried to push himself and his boundaries. Having competed in many Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) throughout his life, he has run, cycled, and paddled his way through miles of terrain in an attempt to prove himself as one of the greats. But when one of the races doesn’t go according to plan, his life comes to a halt. He’s ostracized from racing, having lost all his sponsors and allies. Michael can’t seem to walk back the shame and anxiety that accompanied the radical change to his life.

While Michael might be down, he isn’t out. Three years after his last race, he’s back with a vengeance. He wants one more race to prove himself to his wife Helena (Juliet Rylance), his father, and the world. To do so, he’s going to need a team and a sponsor, but both will be difficult to come by.

Michael must join forces with the man who ruined his career last time, Leo (Simu Liu), a social media-absorbed promotor. He then assembles his team of old friends, Chik (Ali Suliman) the navigator with a bum knee, and new, Olivia (Nathalie Emmanuel), the daughter of a friend who is a skilled climber. Together, these four must work to survive the treacherous 435-mile race through the Dominican Republic.

What the team doesn’t count on is Arthur, a dog who stumbles upon the four of them and stays by their side through some of the hazardous conditions. Forming a new team of five, can they make it to the end without any major injuries? Or does Arthur The King end with tears of sadness that will haunt the audience forever? You’ll have to go see the film if you wish to know just how Arthur The King concludes.

A meaningful tear-jerker of a film for dog lovers

I knew what I was signing myself up for before I even signed up for my screener of Arthur The King. The trailer promised a mixture of high-octane fun, which is to be expected from a Mark Wahlberg film, along with a ton of heart because of the canine hero who refuses to give up. With the latter, I knew I would be a mess, quietly crying to myself for towards the end of the film. However, the level of emotions I felt watching this movie were incredibly more intense than I could have ever expected.

Arthur the King-Dog
Arthur. Arthur The King (Lionsgate).

I think part of the intensity is due to my relationship with my dog, Charlie. Before adopting him, I could understand the loss of a pet from a rational point of view. But now I understand the emotional component of caring about my dog more than anything in the world.

The bond that Arthur develops with Michael throughout the film is exactly how I feel about Charlie, so much so, that I could see myself represented in this film. The lengths that Michael goes to for Arthur and vice versa is something that one has to experience to understand completely.

Because of this, Arthur The King was intense for me, but in one of the best ways possible. It was raw and real, in a way I haven’t felt from a movie in such a long time. The story itself is one that everyone should aspire to and want to witness. Michael begins the film feeling lost, having lost so many things in his life that he held in such esteem. Instead of becoming trapped in the depression, he forges a new path to creating his dreams.

But the most important aspect was that throughout his journey, Michael learns that there are things that are more important than pride. The people in our lives are more important. Those things we care about take precedence. He learns those things that felt the most important at one time won’t hold the same weight forever.

While the story is slightly predictable, which is saying something as it’s based on the real adventure of Mikael Lindnord, it’s a real representation of the human experience. For that, it’s become one of my favorite films of 2024 for sure, and I’m not sure if that’s going to change as the year progresses.

Mark Wahlberg and the rest of the human cast

I’ve never been a super fan of Mark Wahlberg, who tends to do one action film after another. Sure, his films are fine, but none have blown me away until this point, except for The Other Guys. Arthur The King has definitely changed my mind about the type of actor Wahlberg is. He is terrific as Michael, forgoing action sequences and slapstick humor for a more leveled role. He’s balanced, showing gravitas that isn’t typical for his roles. This might be a career-defining film for him.

Arthur The King- Mark Wahlberg
Arthur (Ukai) Michael (Mark Wahlberg). Arthur The King (Lionsgate).

The rest of the team is also fantastic, with Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Ali Suliman all having moments and beats that allowed them to shine. I’d love to see all four of these stars in another film together, as their chemistry is excellent to watch unfold on screen.

Final thoughts on Lionsgate’s Arthur The King

This film had some intense scenes, which caused my anxiety to spike higher than I would usually like. One scene in particular that still causes my heart to race when I think about it. I’m sure will stick with others as well.

In addition, some camera techniques bothered me in the film, but I understand why they were made from an artistic perspective. Specifically, I’m not a big fan of the shaky camera technique, which many films in this genre seem to embrace. I’d rather films have a sleek and finished feel, even if the shaky camera makes you feel like you are there amidst the drama. I can also understand if due to the impossible terrain.

Overall, Arthur The King was a strong film, that everyone should see at least at once. I would revisit this movie many times, however perhaps not too close together, as the emotional response is strong. It’s a family film, but for a family with older children, and one you don’t want to miss on the big screen.

Arthur The King is in theaters on March 15. Do you plan on watching this movie? Let us know on social media @mycosmicircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 365 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson