Arthur the King (Blu-ray)

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

May 31, 2024 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Ah, man’s best friend. There have been dozens over the years and it always brings me back to Cujo. Just kidding. Seriously, though, when it comes to movies about canines we’ve got the obligatory A Dog’s Purpose, Marley & Me, Homeward Bound and more recently – Dog. Suffice it to say that there’s no shortage of fodder if you and your pup want to cuddle up for a flick. But Arthur the King is a bit different in that it’s based on a true story. Keeping that in mind makes the story pack more of a punch and makes us realize that not everything was done just for cinematic effect. Regardless of your opinion on dogs, I’ll have to admit that some are pretty cute. And seeing Mark Wahlberg in the lead role was something of a surprise as well. At any rate…

Michael Light (Mark Wahlberg) is an adventure racer. He takes part in competitions that last for days and aren’t for the feign of heart. These races include hiking, climbing, biking and so forth. He’s taken a few years off, but his ego has always been his Achilles’ heel. He forms a team with three others: Leo (Simu Liu), Olivia (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Chik (Ali Suliman) and sets out for the Dominican Republic. A few days into the race a dog joins the party. They quickly adopt him and name him Arthur, he’s the newest member of the team. We follow the team throughout the race (along with the Indiana Jones “dotted lines on the map” effect) and see plenty of bickering though there’s a pretty intense rescue sequence as well. I won’t divulge where or how Arthur factors into the film, but suffice it to say it was enough to warrant a book and then a movie.

I’d call myself an animal lover as I have a backyard full of wildlife that I feed every day. My wife has a severe allergy to pets, else we might have a pup of our own. But we live vicariously through my brother’s dog – Chloe. That’s right girl, you made it into a review! But I get that true dog-lovers will no doubt have a tissue or two handy when watching this one. It’s a good story that’s sure to please. I won’t be taking up adventure racing in the near future, though. Or going back to the Dominican Republic – good lord, what a mess.

Video: How’s it look?

We’re treated to a 2.39:1 AVC HD encode that really manages to showcase the beauty of some of the world. Broad, sweeping views of the mountains are juxtaposed by some extreme close-ups that leave nothing to the imagination. Flesh tones and, uh…animal hair, look nice and as we might imagine, detail is razor sharp. Black levels and contrast are nice as well. It’s a nice-looking transfer that’s sure to please.

Audio: How’s it sound?

I have to say that I was surprised at this Dolby Atmos soundtrack. I wouldn’t have thought a film of this nature would be heightened by a good-sounding track, but then again – what isn’t? The most obvious use of the atmospheric sound is during the adventure racing scenes where we get more “into” the action. Naturally vocals are top notch and if you’ve never heard a dog bark in Dolby Atmos, well…it sounds about the same as a dog barking in real life. Still, this was an unexpected bonus and we’re better for it.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I have no idea why they felt the need for three commentary tracks on this disc and I’ll be honest, I listened to about 20 minutes on the first one. But for those that are fans, you’ve got nearly five hours of commentary on this film should you so choose.

  • Audio Commentary – Director Simon Cellan Jones and Author Mikael Lindnord
  • Audio Commentary – Producers Tucker Tooley and Tessa Tooley
  • Audio Commentary – Producer Mark Canton and Executive Producer Dorothy Canton
  • Finding Arthur – Pretty much that. The dog used in the movie looked enough like the “real” Arthur that it brought tears to the filmmaker’s eyes. Awww.
  • A Love Letter to Arthur – Producer Tucker Tooley gives us the genesis of the project that led to the book which, of course, had to be made into a feature-length film.
  • A Dog’s Journey: Making Arthur the King – The obligatory “Making of…” feature isn’t unlike what we’ve seen before, we get some quips from the actors and producers about the story, what attracted the actors to it and so forth.
  • Mark Wahlberg and Best Friends Animal Society – Essentially a PSA from Wahlberg to get people to adopt animals.
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing terribly “wrong” with the film and with it being based on a true story, we can’t really say that it was all “for the effect.” I mean we can, but it’d be a lie. I won’t say I was to the point where I was near tears, but I can see how true animal lovers might be. It’s an unusual choice for Wahlberg, but he’s got enough notoriety (and money) that it did elevate the movie a few notches. If this sort of thing is up your alley, you could do a lot worse.

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